Correction: Putin On Tour story

Published on NewsOK Modified: February 16, 2014 at 8:54 am •  Published: February 16, 2014
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SOCHI, Russia (AP) — In a story Feb. 15 about Russian President Vladimir Putin's visit to USA House at the Sochi Olympics, The Associated Press reported erroneously the U.S. men's hockey team beat the Soviets to win the gold medal at the 1980 Games in Lake Placid. Team USA beat the Soviets in the first game of the medal round, winning the goal in a second medal-round game against Finland.

A corrected version of the story is below:

Guess who dropped by USA House? Vladimir Putin

Olympic Detente: Putin makes surprise visit to USA House to talk to American Olympic leaders

By STEPHEN WILSON and ANGELA CHARLTON

Associated Press

SOCHI, Russia (AP) — In a powerful symbol of international sports detente, Russian President Vladimir Putin dropped in on U.S. Olympic headquarters Friday to chat about the Winter Games and the upcoming Russia-U.S. hockey showdown.

He even wore a red "Happy Valentine's Day from Team USA" pin on his lapel.

Putin spent about half an hour at USA House in Sochi's Olympic Park, sitting on a couch talking with U.S. Olympic Committee chairman Larry Probst and CEO Scott Blackmun. From there, he made a stop at Canada House next door.

"Putin was very gracious," Blackmun told The Associated Press. "What I would remember is it sends a strong message about the importance of sport to Russia."

The Russian leader looked relaxed, wearing a dark jacket with an open-collar light blue shirt. He had a glass of red wine as he asked the Americans about their experience in Sochi so far.

"We talked about mostly our impression of the games," Blackmun said. "He was very interested in knowing what we thought about the level of infrastructure, the level of services. ... We complimented him on the great operations so far."

Putin's visit offered a sharp contrast with the chilly state of political relations between Washington and Moscow over issues that include Ukraine, Syria, Edward Snowden, gay rights and human rights.

President Barack Obama is not the attending the games. In what is seen as a snub, the U.S. delegation to the Olympics does not include a president, former president, vice president or first lady for the first time since 2000.

But global politics took a back seat Friday as Putin turned up the charm during a visit that appeared calculated to defuse tensions and soften his image, but remind everyone he is the central force behind Russia's games.

He sat with the U.S. team officials on cream-colored sofas in an open-air terrace in the center of the USA House, as American athletes, families, sponsors and fans looked on.

"He was genuinely interested in whether we were having a quality experience at the games," Blackmun said.

The conversation touched on Saturday's preliminary round men's hockey game between the Americans and Russians. The game has revived memories of the "Miracle on Ice," when the U.S. beat the heavily favored Soviets at the 1980 Games in Lake Placid.



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