February 7

Some athletes will skip opening ceremony

The Associated Press

SOCHI, Russia  — Many athletes at the Sochi Olympics have decided to stay off their feet for the opening ceremony because they'll be on their skates or skis the next day.

click image to enlarge

Fans make their way to Fisht Stadium for the opening ceremony of the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia, Friday, Feb. 7, 2014. (AP Photo/Darron Cummings)

AP

Several figure skaters said Friday they're skipping the ceremony's often spectacular but occasionally tedious parade of athletes to rest up for their competition the next day. The U.S. women's hockey team had a meeting after practice Friday and decided not to march in the opening ceremony to rest up for Saturday's game against Finland, a noon start local time.

"We're here to compete for a gold medal," U.S. forward Julie Chu, who already has two silvers and a bronze, said before the meeting. "The opening ceremony is a very special part of the Olympics, but isn't it more (important) to win a medal?"

The opening ceremony is expected to showcase the country's post-Soviet identity to the world, but the parade of 3,000 athletes at past Olympics has been known to drag on like a classic Russian novel. Athletes often have to line up an hour or more before the opening ceremony starts, and they could still be on their feet five hours later.

That's why three-time Olympic figure skating medalist Evgeni Plushenko, who might otherwise have been a candidate to be the host country's flag-bearer, said he will not attend to rest for the team events on Saturday night. American skater Ashley Wagner said ice dancers Meryl Davis and Charlie White told her their legs felt heavy for a few days after marching in Vancouver four years ago.

"Of course I have a fear of missing out, but I'm here to compete," Wagner said. "So we're having a viewing party, and I get to go hang out in Charlie White's room."

Finnish women's goalie Noora Raty, a three-time Olympian, said she will also stay home.

"There's no point of going, just standing eight hours," she said. "I've been there twice."

The U.S. and Canadian men's hockey teams have a different problem: Their NHL players are still committed to their pro teams and haven't even left for Russia yet.

"It's a personal choice, and a lot of athletes choose to walk, even if they're competing the next day," said Jane Almeida, a spokeswoman for the Canadian Olympic Committee. "It's really up to them and their coaches."

 

Were you interviewed for this story? If so, please fill out our accuracy form

Send question/comment to the editors




Further Discussion

Here at OnlineSentinel.com we value our readers and are committed to growing our community by encouraging you to add to the discussion. To ensure conscientious dialogue we have implemented a strict no-bullying policy. To participate, you must follow our Terms of Use.

Questions about the article? Add them below and we’ll try to answer them or do a follow-up post as soon as we can. Technical problems? Email them to us with an exact description of the problem. Make sure to include:
  • Type of computer or mobile device your are using
  • Exact operating system and browser you are viewing the site on (TIP: You can easily determine your operating system here.)