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