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Time for fame, footnotes

Norwegian biathlete Ole Einar Bjoerndalen is one medal shy of tying countryman Bjorn Daehlie’s record of 12 career Winter Olympic medals.

Associated Press

Norwegian biathlete Ole Einar Bjoerndalen is one medal shy of tying countryman Bjorn Daehlie’s record of 12 career Winter Olympic medals.

The headlines leading up to the start of the Olympics in Sochi, Russia, have been dominated by terrorism, security, gay rights, Russian oppression, the extermination of stray dogs, dangerous water and unusual toilet setups, among many other things.

With today's opening ceremony, the hope is the focus shifts more to the athletes and what they have at stake on the ice, slopes and slides in the 22nd Winter Games. Here are some competitors, milestones and trivia to keep an eye on:

• Three athletes have the chance to become the greatest Winter Olympian in terms of medals won. The record is 12, collected by Norwegian cross-country skiing legend Bjorn Daehlie from 1992-98. Norwegian biathlete Ole Einar Bjoerndalen is one behind Daehlie. German speed skater Claudia Pechstein has nine medals. Norwegian cross-country skier Marit Bjoergen has seven, and if she repeats her 2010 performance of five medals, she will match Daehlie.

• The United States has 230 athletes in Sochi, the largest delegation for any nation in Winter Games history. Americans are competing in all 15 disciplines in seven sports.

• Alpine skier Bode Miller, with five career medals, needs three to match retired short-track speed skater Apolo Anton Ohno as the most decorated U.S. Winter Olympian.

• Long-track speed skater Shani Davis (1,000 meters) and snowboarder Shaun White (halfpipe) can become the first American men to win three gold medals in the same event at consecutive Winter Games.

• The youngest member of the U.S. team is 15-year-old freestyle skier Maggie Voisin. The oldest is 45-year-old curler Ann Swishelm.

• Three Americans listed Florida hometowns with the U.S. Olympic Committee: long-track speed skater Eddie Alvarez (Miami) and short-track speed skaters Brittany Bowe and Joe Mantia (both Ocala).

• South Korea's Kim Yu-Na has a good chance to join Norway's Sonja Henie (1928-36) and East Germany's Katarina Witt (1984-88) as the only women to win consecutive figure skating gold medals.

• There are 12 new events: biathlon mixed relay, freestyle skiing halfpipe and slopestyle for men and women (four events), figure skating team, luge mixed relay, women's ski jumping normal hill, and snowboarding slopestyle and parallel special slalom for men and women (four). This makes 98 events in Sochi, compared with 86 in 2010 in Vancouver.

• 88 nations are competing, the most at a Winter Games. The International Olympic Committee is calling the number 87 and not counting India, whose national committee has been suspended for corruption. Indian athletes will compete under the Olympic flag as independent athletes. "It is a sad and embarrassing situation that Indian sport has been put in," luger Shiva Keshavan said.

• Seven nations are competing in the Winter Olympics for the first time: Dominica, Malta, Paraguay, Timor-Leste, Togo, Tonga and Zimbabwe.

• Renowned British violinist Vanessa-Mae is competing in Alpine skiing for Thailand, where she was born.

• Dutch speed skater Sven Kramer is determined to put one of the biggest blunders of the 2010 Games behind him. Kramer missed out on a third gold medal when his coach directed him to the wrong lane during a changeover in the 10,000 meters. "I want to make it into something beautiful," Kramer said. "I am not just (here) for the Olympic spirit. I already have had that."

• The IOC, as part of a $10 million fund to monitor competition integrity, has asked the Nevada Gaming Control Board to be on alert. Dramatic changes in odds can often be a sign of match-fixing. Olympic wagering isn't permitted in Vegas, but the sports books do keep an eye on illegal and offshore activity.

• NBA Brooklyn Nets owner Mikhail Prokhorov also is the president of the Russian Biathlon Union.

Information from olympicstats.com and nbcsports.com was used in this report.

Time for fame, footnotes 02/06/14 [Last modified: Thursday, February 6, 2014 10:33pm]
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