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SOCHI, February 11. /ITAR-TASS/. Weather at the Winter Olympic Games in the host city of Sochi is not surprising to meteorologists and fully corresponds to earlier forecasts, Roman Vilfand, the head of Russia’s Hydrometeorological Centre, told Itar-Tass on Monday.
“We can say the weather has been loyal to forecasts until now, being entirely consistent with them,” he said. “All the processes occurring [in Sochi] are quite clear, and our expectations are highly favorable.”
Vilfand added “there have been absolutely no problems” with forecasting the weather correctly in these first days of the Olympics, considering excellent technical equipment and staff assistance of a new meteorological system established in the region before the Games.
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More than 59,000 tickets were sold to competitions, which took place on Sunday at the Sochi Games, Irina Gladkikh, the sports director of the Sochi-2014 Organizing Committee, told a news conference on Monday.
“We had sold 59,395 tickets to the events, which took place on Sunday,” she said. “At most events, the spectator stands were practically full packed, while tickets for figure skating and luge were sold out.”
“Great interest was shown for women’s [snowboard] slopestyle,” Gladkikh said. “We were surprised at the interest to women’s ice hockey. We thought Russian fans would be interested only in the match against Germany, but they also chose to attend the competition, where the Swedish team played.”
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Russian President Vladimir Putin visited the China House in Sochi - a cultural project of the Chinese Olympic Committee - on Monday night.
The project aims to step up China’s cultural exchanges with other countries and serves as a venue for news conferences and interviews with athletes, coaches and Chinese officials.
The Russian head of state toured the stands telling the visitors about the Russian-Chinese Youth Sports Games as well as sports contacts between Russia and China. After that, Russian and Chinese wushu wrestlers, including the world wushu champion Darya Tarasova, demonstrated their skills to Putin, who thanked them for their performance.
Putin said Chinese President Xi Jinping had asked him to pay special attention to the Chinese team given that winter sports were just gaining momentum in China.
“I am sure that China will show brilliant performance at the Sochi Olympics,” Putin said, adding that Chinese athletes would enjoy their stay in Sochi anyway.
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United States snowboarder Sage Kotsenburg, who captured the first gold medal for his country at the 2014 Olympic Winter Games on Saturday, said the slopestyle course in Sochi was in a fair condition, and those complaining about it were just far from snowboard.
A few days before the start of the Olympic slopestyle competition, a number of athletes raised concerns about the safety of Sochi’s slopestyle course at the Rosa Khutor Extreme Park, arguing it was too dangerous because of the size of the jumps. After several snowboarders appealed for changes, the course was modified, with the tops and bottoms of some of the jumps smoothed out.
“I can assure you that athletes riding high slopes and participating in the Winter X Games (an international extreme sports competition - Itar-Tass) have made no complaints,” Kotsenburg said. “Those who have clamoured about it have not the slightest idea of our kind of sport.”
(C) ITAR-TASS/EPA/JENS BUETTNER
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Russia’s forward Valeri Nichushkin has not managed to arrive to a daily training in time over some problems with delivery of his uniform.
“This day is a kind of historic for me. It is my first training with the adult team,” Nichushkin said after the end of the training. “I am the only player who has flown from Atlanta. My uniform has been taken away. And I have been a little delayed because of it. The ammunition came at the moment when all the boys were already on the ice and made a team photo.”
“What about my first impressions? Everything is alright,” he said. “Besides, I am familiar with this arena and this ice (Nichushkin took part in the IIHF Ice Hockey U18 World Championship held in Sochi in April 2013 - Itar-Tass). My dream - to play at the Olympics - is near to fulfilment now. But the main thing is that our team plays well.”
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Togolese athletes may surprise sports professionals and fans at the Sochi Winter Olympics, Bayor Kelani, a member of the International Boxing Federation, who leads Togo’s delegation to Sochi, said on Monday.
Togo is represented by two athletes - Italian-born alpine skier Alessia Afi Dipol and Nigerien-born skier Mathilde-Amivi Petitjean.
“We are happy to participate in a world-class sports forum,” Kelani said. “The Olympic movement unites the world, and it is, certainly, not winning, but participation that matters for us. We want to show ourselves to the whole world and probably to make a surprise.”
Kelani said his trip to Russia was an unforgettable adventure and thanked the Russian government for organising and holding the Olympic Games.
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One of the three mascots of the 2014 Winter Olympic Games - the White Hare - is extremely popular with guests at the Olympic Park. A large queue of fans wishes to talk to and to take photos with the plush Hare every minute.
Talking is, however, hardly possible despite the friendliness of the mascot.
“The Hare doesn’t talk. It is an animal, and animals don’t talk,” a volunteer accompanying the mascot explained in fear that some of the most emotional visitors might make the Hare greased.
(C) ITAR-TASS/EPA/BARBARA WALTON
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The first playground for disabled children has been opened in Sochi, which prepares to host the XI Paralympic Games.
Its opening has been attended by President of the International Olympic Committee Thomas Bach, who said this was a good sign there was a special place built in the Olympic capital for children to play together.
Construction work was funded by Ronald McDonald House Charities. The playground is located on the area of more than 800 square metres and it is equipped with necessary runways for wheelchairs. Most playing machines are accessible for disabled children.