After a week of uninterrupted sunshine, conditions have changed
radically among the peaks of the Caucasus.
The men's biathlon mass start race, already carried over from Sunday
evening, was postponed again and will be held on Tuesday, while the
men's snowboard cross competition would not be held on Monday as
Organizers are sensitive to safety concerns after a series of
injuries at the Rosa Khutor Extreme Park over the weekend.
The worst was to Russian ski cross athlete Maria Komissarova, who
underwent surgery for more than six hours on Saturday to attach a
metal implant to her spine.
The 23-year-old was flown to a specialist clinic in Germany on
Sunday where she will have a second operation, according to Russian
Sports Minister Vitaly Mutko.
The injury was a rare piece of bad news at Russia's first Winter
Olympics, where thrilling sporting action and state-of-the art
venues have impressed visitors and dispelled doubts and criticism
that marked the buildup to the Games.
President Vladimir Putin has been in the crowds at the Olympic Park
on the Black Sea coast and up in the mountains, engaged in cozy
chats with teams and Olympic officials and even turned up at
Komissarova's bedside to offer support.
This is the "new" Putin on show. The pictures of him in action — riding horses bare-chested or shooting a tiger with a tranquilizer
dart — have at least for now been carefully put to one side.
The Russia that Putin wants to portray at the Games is a caring
country that has come a long way since the austere days of the
Soviet Union. The leader he wants to portray is a man with whom the
West can do business.
There has been little sign of protest, despite widespread criticism
of Russian legislation banning homosexual propaganda among minors,
and as yet Islamist militants opposed to Putin and the Games have
yet to carry out their threats to attack Sochi.
In a rare display of dissent, however, a transgender former member
of the Italian parliament, Vladimir Luxuria, held up a sign saying
"Gay is OK" in Russian in the Olympic Park on Sunday.
She said she was detained by Russian police for about three hours
and was told she could not display pro-gay slogans in public. Police
declined immediate comment.
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International Olympic Committee spokesman Mark Adams said: "We hope
that the Games will not be used as a platform for demonstrations."
Critics of the law say it discriminates against gays and has fuelled
violence against homosexuals.
As for the 10th full day of sporting contest, several mountain
events faced severe delays and postponement to a later day as fog
and drizzle set in.
But down in Sochi, excitement was building ahead of the free dance
section of the ice dance competition at the Iceberg Skating Palace.
Davis and White raised the bar with Sunday's spectacular short dance
display to a medley of songs from 'My Fair Lady', putting them in
sight of Olympic history in one of the most popular events of any
The twice world champions are now one routine away from becoming
only the fourth non-Russian couple to win the Olympic ice dance
"It felt awesome. When we were going out, we said, 'Let's do it for
each other'," said White. "We're letting it flow."
Host Russia goes for gold in the first bobsleigh medal of the Games
at the Sanki Sliding Center, where Alexander Zubkov set the pace at
the halfway stage in the two-man event.
After China's women failed to turn their dominance of freestyle
aerials into Olympic gold, it's the turn of the men with Liu
Zhongqing and Qi Guangpu expected to fight it out with Belarussian
defending champion Alexei Grishin for the title.
Unlike the last two Olympics, where Austria easily won the team ski
jumping event, the competition looks like a tightly contested
affair. Germany, Japan, Norway and Slovenia all pose a serious
challenge and could leave the Austrians empty-handed.
(Reporting by Reuters Olympic team in Sochi and Rosa Khutor; editing
by Keith Weir)
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