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Russian president: Quit on own, or with our help

MOSCOW — President Dmitry Medvedev said Monday that the officials responsible for preparing Russia's Olympic team for the Vancouver Games should quit after the country's worst showing since it began competing in 1956.

Russia, a traditional winter sports powerhouse, had one of its worst performances with 15 medals (three golds). The target was 30 medals and a top-three finish in the medal standings.

Russia placed 11th for golds and sixth in overall medals.

"I think that the individuals responsible, or several of them, who answer for these preparations, should take the courageous decision to hand in their notice," Medvedev said, without mentioning names. "If we don't see such decisiveness, we will help them."

Sports minister Vitaly Mutko blamed several factors. New sports such as freestyle skiing that "no one takes seriously" in Russia have allowed other countries to race ahead, he said. He also said Russia lacked "a shot here, a second or a point there," singling out Evgeni Plushenko, who took silver behind Evan Lysacek in men's figure skating.

Quiet day after: A Vancouver coffee shop manager reported "a lot of triple-shot" orders from recovering revelers Monday morning, but there were only minor problems after Sunday's closing ceremony. Garbage was in, or at least nearby, the numerous temporary trash cans, with one shoe left on the sidewalk.

"We expected a lot worse," said Jody Weatherby, an electrician who was repairing street-crossing signals damaged after people jumped to swing from them.

Other than that, Weatherby said the biggest damage Monday was to the city's mood.

"The feeling is such a cascade leading up and everybody got caught up in it, and now that it is over, they are deflated, he said. "They want it to go on."

With a price tag of $2 billion to $7 billion, depending on whether you are a critic or proponent, there are Olympian-sized bills to be paid. The city is on the hook for the $1 billion athletes' village and can only hope the competitors' rave reviews, combined with TV footage of the waterfront it sits on, will help sell the units to cover the costs and still keep promises of 250 units of social housing, which seems unlikely.

NOTABLE: A Zamboni driver who helped dismantle the hockey arena gave the Olympic-logo faceoff dot nearest Sidney Crosby's clinching shot to a Royal Canadian Mounted Police officer in exchange for his hat.

Russian president: Quit on own, or with our help 03/01/10 [Last modified: Monday, March 1, 2010 10:20pm]
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