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Avalanche at Russia's Sochi ski resort kills two

MOSCOW (Reuters) - Two people were killed on Sunday when an avalanche swept down a slope at the Sochi ski resort where the 2014 Winter Olympics alpine events were held, Russian officials said. Rescuers found the bodies of two women beneath the snow after the midday avalanche on a slope called Labyrinth at Rosa Khutor, the resort said on its website. "Despite all efforts to revive them, they could not be saved," it said. The Russian Emergency Situations Ministry confirmed two people were killed.

Putin hopes Paralympics will 'cool' Ukraine tensions

President Vladimir Putin said Friday he hoped that the Winter Paralympic Games in Sochi will "cool the tensions" between Ukraine and Russia over the Crimea crisis. "I hope the Paralympics can cool a little the tensions surrounding Ukraine," Putin told the President of the International Paralympic Committee Philip Craven while giving him a tour of the Black Sea host city.

Ukraine Paralympic chief says will quit Games if Russia invades

By Alexei Anishchuk SOCHI, Russia (Reuters) - Ukraine's Paralympic chief, Valeriy Sushkevich, said on Friday his team would quit the Winter Paralympic Games if Russia invaded his home country, and that he hoped the competition would be able to spread peace instead. Russia is holding the Games in the Black Sea resort of Sochi at a time when it is being criticized for its actions in Ukraine's southern region of Crimea, where the West accuses Russia of seizing military and government institutions.

French ministers to boycott Sochi Paralympics over Ukraine

France will not send any ministers to the Sochi Paralympics to protest Russia's position in the Ukraine crisis, Paris said Friday hours before the opening of the Winter Games. "They won't be there. It would have been very inappropriate for French ministers to be there," France's Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius told French radio, adding that French athletes will participate. cr/yad/pdh

Japan to send senior vice minister to Sochi for Paralympics ceremony

The Japanese government decided Thursday to send a senior vice minister of sports to Sochi, Russia, to attend the opening ceremony of the Winter Paralympics on Friday, officials said. "I will depart on Thursday afternoon," Yoshitaka Sakurada, a senior vice minister of education, culture, sports, science and technology, told reporters after a meeting of senior vice ministers in the government.

Ukraine: US says Russia's seat at G8 summit at risk

US Treasury Secretary Jacob Lew warned Russia on Wednesday that its actions in Ukraine have put its role in the elite Group of Eight club of leading nations at risk. With Russia to host a summit of G8 leaders in Sochi in June, Lew linked its incursion into Ukraine's Crimea and interventions in the country's politics to Moscow's continuing position in the G8. "We are on a path where I think it's clear Russia cannot sit in Sochi at G8 meetings while it's pursuing the policies that it's now pursuing," Lew told a Senate committee.

Bjoerndalen delays retirement for 2016 worlds bid

OSLO (Reuters) - Norwegian biathlete Ole Einar Bjoerndalen, who won a record 13th Winter Olympics medal in Sochi last month just weeks after his 40th birthday, has delayed plans to retire and will compete for another two years, he told tabloid VG on Tuesday. Bjoerndalen, who won two golds in Russia, including the individual 10 kilometer sprint, said it would be a mistake to quit when he was in top form and wanted a shot at another world title on home snow when the 2016 event takes place in Oslo.

Olympics: Kim Yu-Na says 'absurd' Sochi result behind her

South Korea's Kim Yu-Na Tuesday described the judging of the women's figure skating at the Sochi Winter Olympics as "absurd", but said the controversy was behind her following her retirement. The 2010 Vancouver Olympics champion won silver in Sochi behind Russian skater Adelina Sotnikova despite turning in a characteristically error-free performance. The result sparked heated debate over whether Kim was robbed of a repeat Olympic gold medal.

US pulls presidential delegation to Sochi paralympics

The United States said Monday it would not send a presidential delegation to the Winter paralympics in Sochi as part of measures drawn up to protest Russia's incursion into Ukraine. "President Obama continues to strongly support all of the US athletes who will participate in the Paralympics and wishes them great success in the Olympic competition," said National Security Council spokeswoman Caitlin Hayden. col/jm

Canada's Paralympic committee monitors Ukraine as athletes arrive in Sochi

MONTREAL - Canada's Paralympic athletes continue to arrive in Sochi even as a crisis unfolds in nearby Ukraine. A spokesman for the Canadian Paralympic Committee says the organization continues to monitor the situation but has no plans to back out now. Martin Richard says the goal remains to place among the top three nations in the gold medal count. The Paralympic Games are set for March 7 to 16. Russia's troops have moved into Ukraine and the military has seized the Crimean peninsula, west of Sochi on the Black Sea.
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