Follow real-time updates from the team from Hearst Television and ABC News as they cover the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia.
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There truly is no place like home when it comes to the Winter Olympics and Russia.
The host country took advantage of familiar ice, snow and everything in between at the 2014 Games in Sochi by finishing atop the medal count race with an impressive 33 medals. Among those 33 podium finishes were 13 golds, which was also the most of any nation.
Among the sports that Russia dominated was figure skating, with the gold medal in the team competition behind the brilliance of JuliaLipnitskaia and the gold in the ladies’ individual event from AdelinaSotnikova.
The real question from a Russian perspective is whether winning the overall medal tally and taking home the most gold medals is enough to compensate for the sting of losing in the quarterfinals in the men’s hockey tournament.
From an American perspective, it was an Olympics filled with ups and downs.
On the one hand, the 28 medals were the most for the Red, White and Blue at a Winter Olympics held outside of North America, but it’s hard not to compare this year’s effort to the 37 medals brought home at the 2010 Games in Vancouver. That was the most-ever podium appearances by any nation in one Winter Olympics.
Many of the marquee names heading into these Games failed to medal, including Shaun White, Shani Davis and the men’s hockey team. Gracie Gold took home a bronze in the figure skating team competition, but she was one spot off the podium in the ladies’ individual event.
However, there was complete dominance from Meryl Davis and Charlie White in the ice dancing and two podium appearances from Steven Holcomb and Steve Langton in bobsledding. Tim Reynolds, an Associated Press sports writer, pointed out that they were the multiple-medal winners in Sochi:
Leaders on the iceThere was also the birth of a new superstar on the ski slopes, as Mikaela Shiffrin became the youngest woman ever to win the gold in the slalom.
If her comments to reporters that were passed along by PaulMyerberg of the USA Today are any indication, there is plenty of success to come at the 2018 Games:
I’m still young and I still have a lot of strength to gain over the next few summers of conditioning and the next few winters of skiing. I don’t want to push myself too far too fast and definitely don’t get greedy, but at the same time, I’m a dreamer.
So right now I’m dreaming of the next Olympics, winning five gold medals. Which sounds really crazy. Sorry I just admitted that to you all.
Another marquee story from the 2014 Olympics was the performance of the Netherlands in the speedskating events. Yes, head coach JillertAnema made some headlines with his comments on the United States, but the real story was the 23 medals, eight of which were gold, that the Dutch won in the various competitions.
Netherlands finished in fifth place in the overall medal count, and 23 of its 24 podium appearances came in speedskating.
Elsewhere, Canada was strong as usual in the Winter Games.
Its hockey team was filled with elite NHL talent and it showed throughout the tournament. The Canadians defended their gold medal from Vancouver, knocking off the Americans in the semifinals and the Sweden team in the championship match.
Safe to say, those on the Canadian team won’t mind the additional fatigue once the grueling NHL schedule starts back up again. A gold medal around your neck has a funny way of making the extra games worth it.
Looking forward, two questions remain now that the Olympics are officially in the rearview mirror.
As with any Olympics, what will happen next with the additional sporting venues and the extra hotel rooms in Sochi?
Mark Kramer of Harvard University’s Davis Center for Russian and Eurasian Studies did not sound optimistic, via Barry Svrluga of The Washington Post:
I doubt Putin is going to want to channel large amounts of scarce funding to bolstering all these facilities once the Olympics are over and begin to fade from memory…Putin has channeled ample funds to his native city, St. Petersburg/Leningrad, and he is fond of Sochi, but in the list of priorities, it’s not going to rank high. Hence, I expect that Sochiwill end up with a lot of facilities and hotels that are going to be pretty useless five years from now.
At least the Fisht Olympic Stadium, which was solely used for the Opening and Closing Ceremonies in the Games, will be a featured site for the 2018 World Cup.
The other post-Olympic question is how the 2018 Games in South Korea will unfold.
Will Russia be able to defend its medal count title? How will the traditional powerhouses of Canada and the United States fare? Finally, will South Korea receive a boost from its home fans?
For now, Russia has Winter Olympic bragging rights for the next four years.
WASHINGTON — The Homeland Security Department has warned airlines that terrorists could try to hide explosives in shoes.
It’s the second time in less than three weeks that the government has issued a warning about possible attempts to smuggle explosives on a commercial jetliner.
Homeland Security said Wednesday it regularly shares relevant information with domestic and international partners, but it declined to discuss specifics of a warning sent to airlines.
“Our security apparatus includes a number of measures, both seen and unseen, informed by the latest intelligence and as always DHS continues to adjust security measures to fit an ever evolving threat environment,” the department said in a statement.
A U.S. intelligence official told The Associated Press that DHS released a notice to airlines reiterating that liquids, shoes and certain cosmetics were of concern, all of which are covered under existing Transportation Security Administration security policies.
The latest warning was focused on flights headed to the United States from abroad.
The official said “something caused DHS concern, but it’s a very low threshold to trigger a warning like this.” The official spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to discuss the issue publicly.
Earlier this month Homeland Security warned airlines with flights to Russia to be on the lookout for explosive devices possibly hidden inside toothpaste. The Transportation Security Administration then banned passengers from bringing any liquids in their carry-on luggage on nonstop flights from the U.S. to Russia.
That warning became public just days before the opening ceremonies of the Winter Olympics in Sochi.
It is unclear if the latest warning, first reported Wednesday by NBC News, is related to the earlier threats to Russia-bound flights.
Air passengers in the United States have had to take off their shoes at airport security checkpoints since shortly after Richard Reid tried to ignite explosives hidden in his shoes on a Miami-bound flight in late 2001. Reid pleaded guilty to terrorism charges and is serving a life sentence.
The traveling public has grown increasingly impatient with expanding security checks at airports.
TSA in recent years has changed some security procedures to allow young children and passengers 75 and older to keep their shoes on. The security agency has also launched a fee-based program that allows willing flyers to submit to background checks and avoid having to remove their shoes, jackets and small amounts of liquids packed in carry-on luggage.
BY RICHARD ENGEL, JAMES NOVOGROD AND ALEXANDER SMITH
KIEV, Ukraine — A fragile truce between pro-West demonstrators and Ukraine’s security forces was shattered early Thursday as deadly battles erupted once again on the streets of Kiev.
Facing sanctions from the United States and the European Union, President Viktor Yanukovych reached a truce with opposition leaders on Wednesday nightafter two days of violence that saw at least 28 people killed.
But the pact was short lived. Independence Square –- where the protest movement has camped out since November –- descended into urban warfare by 10 a.m. local time (3 a.m. ET). At least two dead bodies were seen by NBC News on Thursday.
“What truce? There is no truce!” protester Petro Maksimchuk, 23, told Reuters. “It is simply war ahead of us!”
Watch Video: U.S. Slaps Sanctions on 20 Ukraine Officials
Those accounts could not immediately be confirmed by NBC News.
A protester just was dragged by on a blanket by his comrades; the injured collected every few minutes here.
Now inside the lobby of a hotel off the square; it’s become a field hospital.
Man with head wounds being comforted by nurse; he lies in her lap and motions for water.
A small tabletop near the lobby bar now piled with medical kit, alongside the napkins and toothpicks.
However, Ukraine’s Ministry of Internal Affairs said Thursday that the new violence was trigge
red when opposition snipers opened fire on police officers, killing one and injuring 29 others.
Television footage showed several captured police officers were seen being led away by men wearing combat fatigues.
More than 50 captured police led inside the energy bldg next door to city hall
The crisis in the sprawling country of 46 million has mounted since Yanukovich pulled out of a planned far-reaching trade agreement with the European Union in November under fierce pressure from Moscow and agreed to take a $15-billion Russian bailout instead.
Protests began peacefully last year but have been increasingly characterized by smaller, more extreme elements — many aligned with the far right — who have clashed with riot police.
While the demonstrations started as a rejection of the Russia-leaning government policies, protesters said they now seek to “oust a corrupt and brutal regime,” according to a post by the opposition-run “Euromaidan” Facebook group on Wednesday morning.
Watch Video: Ukraine Protesters Gain Momentum in Bloody Uprising
Tuesday’s violence shattered weeks of relative calm in the capital and was sparked by Russia’s announcement that it was ready to resume its loan package to the Ukraine. Some in the opposition saw this as an indication that the two countries had struck a deal and that the government was intent on standing firm against the protesters.
Ukraine’s interim prime minister and Russia’s Foreign Ministry have described the violence as an attempted coup.
Vitali Klitschko, the world champion boxer turned opposition leader, had backed the cease-fire with Yanukovych in a statement on his party’s website Wednesday night.
But other anti-government factions, such as Dmitro Yarosh, the leader of Ukraine’s far-right Pravy Sector party, rejected the agreement and vowed to continue to fight.
Maria Stromova of NBC News, The Associated Press and Reuters contributed to this report. Alexander Smith reported from London.
First published February 20th 2014, 2:59 am
By Victoria Butenko. Ben Brumfield and Phil Black, CNN
Kiev, Ukraine (CNN) — They’ve given up their ground before — voluntarily, as a political concession. But that seems to be over.
After the deaths of 25 people in clashes a day earlier, Ukrainian protesters are prepared to stand and fight again Wednesday.
Police want to clear them out of central Kiev. Some of them died trying to stay put Tuesday — using projectiles and burning barricades to keep security forces at bay at Kiev’s Maidan, or Independence Square.
It was the deadliest day in the months-long standoff between the government and opposition leaders.
Thousands of demonstrators have packed Independence Square since November, when President Viktor Yanukovych reversed a decision to sign a trade deal with the European Union and instead turned toward Russia.
The unrest intensified after an anti-protest law went into effect. Throngs of demonstrators took to the streets to protest the law.
Police and protesters were among Tuesday’s dead. A journalist and a government employee died, too.
More than 240 others were hospitalized, Ukraine’s health ministry said.
Overnight, demonstrators stocked up, passing stones hand to hand, filling Molotov cocktails and stoking flaming barricades with wood and tires.
They prepared a makeshift compressed-air cannon to catapult the projectiles into police ranks.
Hundreds of others came out to give moral support to those holding the square and to add their numbers to the throng wanting to keep the opposition movement alive.
Corporate lawyer Volodymyr Solohub was one of them. Whenever police threaten to clear the Maidan he goes there.
Tuesday, he watched as protesters rushed injured people from the front lines to medics.
“Some of them had broken hands, and blood was flowing down their faces,” he said Wednesday.
Barrages of stun grenades shattered the air around him through the night.
“When it goes off, the whole area vibrates,” he said. But the barricades held, and it made him happy.
When the sun rose Wednesday, smoke was still rising from them into the sky.
Even as the European Union scheduled a meeting on Ukraine for Thursday and the leaders of France and Poland called for sanctions over the violence, Yanukovych fired fresh vitriol at his opposition.
He pinned blame for the violence exclusively on protesters, but he would have none of it himself.
“This is my life principle — no power is worth a drop of blood spilled for it,” he said in a statement.
Yet he issued a veiled threat to protesters.
Opposition forces should “disassociate themselves from the radical forces that provoke bloodshed and clashes with law enforcement,” he said.
Otherwise, admit to supporting them and be treated accordingly, Yanukovych demanded.
Opposition leaders pointed the finger back, painting their supporters as the victims, not the aggressors.
Neither side seems to have a monopoly on the use of violence, and in the mayhem, it is sometimes hard to tell who is carrying it out.
The journalist who died Wednesday was shot the night before, after a group of masked people stopped a taxi he was riding in, according to a statement by his newspaper Ukrainian Vesti.
They wore camouflage clothes and were throwing Molotov cocktails. They beat other passengers in the car, the paper reported.
Hopes dashed hard
Tuesday’s violence followed what seemed like a rare breakthrough.
The government had said it would drop charges against those arrested in the political unrest.
After holding Kiev’s City Hall for three months, protesters pulled back Sunday and unblocked streets in the city center.
But hope died Tuesday, when the speaker of parliament refused to allow amendments that would limit the president’s powers.
Opposition anger reignited and poured into the streets.
The government’s prosecutor general accused the opposition of breaking “the truce,” thus setting the stage for the security crackdown that ensued.
Riot police plowed into the crowd with water cannons, stun grenades and night sticks. Some demonstrators fought back, swinging what looked like baseball bats.
Protesters set fire to the headquarters of the ruling Party of Regions. But the opposition’s headquarters, the Trade Unions House, was also smoldering at daybreak Wednesday.
Authorities accused protesters of firing guns at security forces. An armored personnel carrier charged barricades but was quickly inundated and set alight.
Kiev was the center of the action, as in the past.
But police said the unrest has spread to western Ukraine, with protesters attacking police and local government offices in a number of regions.
Political fuel, spark
Flaming barricades have been a constant for three months all around Kiev’s Independence Square.
But Tuesday’s bloodshed marked a decided escalation.
Though the strife started over a trade pact, protesters’ anger was fueled by underlying sentiments in favor of the West and against Russia.
Their initial call for Yanukovych to reverse his decision on the EU trade deal avalanched over time into an attack on the President’s power base.
Yanukovych and his allies responded with some concessions, offering places in government to opposition leaders.
But on-again, off-again talks have gone nowhere.
Both sides have demanded that the other back down first, and neither is budging.
Yanukovych and opposition leader and famed boxer Vitali Klitschko played another round of the you-first game in an overnight face-to-face meeting.
Speaking to reporters afterward, Klitschko said there effectively was “no discussion.”
The President demanded the protesters back off first. Klitschko threw the demand back at him. “I told Yanukovych this,” he said. “How can we negotiate when there is blood being spilled?”
West vs. Moscow
EU leaders condemned the violence and waved the possibility of sanctions at Kiev’s government, placing most of the responsibility on its shoulders.
EU Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso threatened “targeted measures against those responsible” in a statement.
“Europe will certainly reconsider the restraint it has shown in deciding whether to impose sanctions on individuals,” said German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier.
But Russia is also waving money, standing by with billions in economic aid for Ukraine’s economy.
Since political tensions began, Washington and Moscow have weighed in on opposite ends and kept doing so Tuesday.
U.S. Vice President Joe Biden called Yanukovych to press him to stop the violence, placing the responsibility to de-escalate mainly with government.
Secretary of State John Kerry later backed up the Vice President’s words. He called for the Ukrainian government to halt violence immediately, and reopen dialogue with the opposition.
Russia accused Washington of meddling in Ukrainian affairs.
Washington is trying to tell “the authorities of a sovereign state what they should do next and how they should do it,” an article in Russia’s state-run RIA Novosti’s read.
U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon condemned the clashes in a statement late Tuesday and called for them to stop.
“He reiterates to all sides that the use of violence is unacceptable,” it read.
Ban said preventing more bloodshed is a “paramount priority.”
But in Kiev, the call may be falling on the deaf ears of embittered rivals.
CNN’s Phil Black and Victoria Butenko reported from Kiev, while CNN’s Ben Brumfield reported and wrote from Atlanta. CNN’s Greg Botelho, Michael Martinez, Neda Farshbaf, Larry Register and Radina Gigova contributed to this report.
Cam Fowler and Joe Pavelski scored in regulation for the Americans in the marquee game of the preliminary round. Jonathan Quick made 29 saves and stopped five attempts in the shootout.
International rules allow the same player to take multiple shots after the first three rounds of a shootout, and U.S. coach Dan Bylsma leaned on Oshie, one of the NHL’s shootout specialists.
The St. Louis forward went 4 for 6 against Sergei Bobrovsky, ending the game with one last slow-developing move past the Columbus goalie. The Americans improved to 2-0 in preliminary-round play, all but wrapping up an automatic berth in the quarterfinals next week.
Although the game had little impact on the medal race in Sochi, the finish woke up the echoes of a U.S.-Russia rivalry best known for the “Miracle on Ice” at Lake Placid in 1980, when a team of American college students stunned the Soviet Olympic team.
Mike Eruzione was 25 then and captain of the team the whole country was watching.
“There was a telegram from a lady in Texas,” Eruzione told CBS News correspondent Tracy Smith in an interview broadcast this week on CBS’ “Sunday Morning,” “and all the telegram said was, ‘Beat those commie bastards.’ And it had nothing to do with the hockey game. But that was the mindset, and I think that’s what kind of made the moment so special for so many people.”
And “special” doesn’t even begin to describe it.
The U.S. team defeated the Soviets with a score of 4-3. The victory, then and forever known as the “Miracle on Ice,” triggered an outburst of national pride.
“For everybody it had a different meaning,” said Eruzione. “For us as a hockey team, we won. But for a nation, we won.”
The sociopolitical impact of that game is long gone, and the nations have already met three previous times in the Olympics since NHL players joined the games in 1998. Several players on both teams are teammates in the NHL, and this result only helped determine positioning for next week’s elimination games.
But the Sochi Games are extraordinarily important to the Russian players, and the arena was packed to overflowing with fans of both nations jovially posing for photos and comparing their colorful sweaters. The Russians waved hundreds of flags, blew horns and banged drums from the first moments of warm-ups.
On Saturday, captain Pavel Datsyuk scored two goals in regulation and another in the shootout for the Russians, who rallied from a third-period deficit. In a fast-paced game played in front of Russian President Vladimir Putin and an energized home crowd, the Russians also had an apparent goal waved off with 4:40 left because Quick’s net came off its moorings.
The gimmicky shootout finish was entertaining, but the entire game at the Bolshoy Ice Dome was international hockey at its most compelling – and the third period was a thriller.
Pavelski scored the tiebreaking goal for the Americans on a power play with 10:33 to play, but Datsyuk tied it with 7:16 left during a Russian power play, spurring Putin out of his seat to cheer.
After review, the officials waved off Fedor Tyutin’s apparent go-ahead goal because the net was loose, incensing the Russian crowd.
Both teams had quality scoring chances in overtime, but Bobrovsky denied Patrick Kane on a breakaway in the most hair-raising moment.
Oshie started off the shootout with a low shot between Bobrovsky’s legs, and the next four shooters missed before Ilya Kovalchuk scored in the third round. Datsyuk and Kovalchuk scored in the fifth and sixth rounds, respectively, but Oshie tied it twice in dramatic fashion.
Datsyuk and Oshie both missed in the seventh, and Quick denied Kovalchuk again before Oshie ended it.
Oshie was among the final selections for the U.S. roster, and the 27-year-old from Warroad, Minn., was chosen for exactly this type of situation. Although Oshie has never had a 20-goal NHL season, the hard-nosed forward has one of the highest rates of shootout success among the American-born players.