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Scenes from the Olympics

Finland goalie Noora Raty says women’s hockey needs a North American pro league to really grow.

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Finland goalie Noora Raty says women’s hockey needs a North American pro league to really grow.

Quote of the day

"Awesome. Everything has been top-notch. Best organized Olympics so far, for me. Everything is easy for athletes. Everything is close. Everything is brand new. $50 billion works."

Ducks and Finland forward Teemu Selanne, 43, at his sixth Games

Finland's goalie makes a plea for her sport

After defending bronze medalist Finland's bitter loss to Sweden in the women's hockey quarterfinals, star goalie Noora Raty — who played at the University of Minnesota and won two national championships, including last year in a 41-0-0 season — said she would retire from the Finnish national team after the Games and she would quit hockey for good if she couldn't play professionally in a "competitive league" next season.

Russia has a women's league, but Raty, 24, said in a statement she posted on Twitter (@Nooraty41) that from what she has heard about it, it wouldn't challenge her. That would leave men's leagues, which brings back memories of goalie Manon Rheaume's time with the Lightning in 1992.

But the lengthy statement wasn't as much about Raty as it was a plea to hockey's power brokers — or any power broker, for that matter — to start investing more in the women's game:

"In fact, I don't feel that women's hockey can grow or get any better in the future if the USA or Canada don't get a professional league started soon," she said. "That is the next critical step that our sport needs to take or our sport will never be respected like it should. Asking players to work full time and then training like a pro athlete at the same time is just too much and unfair."

If it's 2 p.m., it's Smucker's time

For anyone who still needs a caveat about following celebrities on social media: Some Olympians are turning over their accounts to sponsors, agreeing to quotas of postings on Twitter and Facebook and letting other people send commercial messages in their name. The agents for U.S. figure skaters Ashley Wagner and Gracie Gold (right) say sponsors draft some of the athletes' Twitter posts to plug their brands. "This is the first Olympics where I actually have a social media calendar, where an athlete has to tweet or mention something on a given day," Gold's agent, Yuki Saegusa, tells the Associated Press. Among the sponsors of Gold — who could be skating's next breakout American star in the women's event this week — are CoverGirl, Visa, United Airlines, Procter & Gamble Family, Smucker's, Pandora Jewelry and Airweave mattresses.

Number of the day

24

Tons of large-grain salt Sochi organizers scrambled to buy last week to treat slushy snow at the venues for Alpine skiing, cross-country skiing, snowboarding and Nordic combined skiing. The salt, used to melt soft snow so it can refreeze into a hard surface, isn't available and had to be imported from Schweizer Rheinsalinen, a 160-year-old company near Basel, Switzerland.

Old Pink Eyes is back!

Bob Costas will return tonight as host of NBC's prime-time telecast after Matt Lauer was back to fill in Sunday, NBC said. If Costas actually does make it in front of the cameras tonight, that means he will have missed six nights because of an eye infection that left him sensitive to light. Lauer also filled in Tuesday through Thursday last week, and Meredith Vieira was in the seat Friday and Saturday.

Meanwhile, NBC's ratings are fading after a healthy start. Saturday night's prime-time telecast was seen by 17.1 million viewers, the smallest audience to date and smaller than any night of the Vancouver Olympics in 2010. The telecast opened with the compelling story of the U.S.-Russia men's hockey game, but after that, there were few notable performances by Americans to keep home-team fans interested. The comparable Saturday in Vancouver had 26.7 million viewers, and the 2006 Games in Turin, Italy, had 19.7 million.

The live broadcast of the U.S.-Russia game Saturday morning on the NBC Sports Network — it started at 7 a.m. — drew an average of 4.1 million people, making it the most-watched hockey game ever on the network. Viewership peaked at 6.4 million during the overtime and shootout, NBC said.

Compiled from Times staff, wires.

Scenes from the Olympics 02/16/14 [Last modified: Sunday, February 16, 2014 11:22pm]

    

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