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Putin comes to Sochi’s Bolshoy Ice Dome to support Russian ice hockey team

February 15, 2014, 18:05 UTC+3 SOCHI
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SOCHI, February 15. /ITAR-TASS/. President Vladimir Putin has come to Sochi’s Bolshoy Ice Dome to support Russian ice hockey team in Saturday’s Group A preliminary round game with the United States at the Sochi Olympics.

On Friday, while visiting Team USA House, Putin said he might attend the Saturday game. “Naturally, we are going to support our athletes. But we know how many of them play for the NHL. Let me assure you that we have many fans who love and know American ice-hockey players. Anyway, all of us are going to enjoy the game,” Putin said. Asked whether he could be seen at the stadium on Saturday, the president replied, “Perhaps, I will come.”

Historically, the Americans have been a difficult opponent for Russian ice-hockey players at Olympic Games. In Soviet days, the Americans won gold twice. This time, Russia and the U.S. have faced each other in a preliminary round, and although no one can predict the outcome, Putin made it clear he hoped to see Russia play against Canada in the final.

Putin, who has become quite proficient in judo and Alpine skiing, has lately turned to ice hockey and will watch Saturday’s game not only as a high-ranking but also as a knowledgeable fan.

Earlier in the day, Putin met with International Olympic Committee (IOC) President Thomas Bach, IOC Honorary President Jacques Rogge and IOC member Jean-Claude Killy on Sochi’s embankment.

After taking a stroll with Bach, the Russian president joined Rogge, Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Kozak and Krasnodar Territory Governor Alexander Tkachev in a small seaside cafe. He talked with each and all of them for a while, including in German, to discuss, among other things, the unusually warm weather in Sochi, and noted that forecasts promised colder weather in the coming days.

Meanwhile, Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev has come to Sochi’s Bolshoy Ice Dome to support the Russian ice-hockey team in the game with the Americans.

He is watching the game together with Russian ice hockey legend Vyacheslav Fetisov. Presidential chief of staff Sergei Ivanov is also attending the event.

The American team is a historically difficult opponent for Russian ice-hockey players in the Olympic Games. Twice, in Soviet time, Americans won gold. Now Russia and the U.S. met in a preliminary round game.

Bolshoy Ice Dome can seat 12,000 people. On Thursday, February 13, Russia beat Slovenia 5-2 there, and the U.S. trounced Slovakia 7-1.

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