KRASNAYA POLYANA, Russia (AP) — If the German biathletes and cross-country skiers are going to win a medal at the Sochi Olympics, they'll owe host nation Russia a favor.
The German ski federation's own grinding machine, used to prepare skis before a race, got damaged during transport to the Olympic city in the days leading up to the Games. It left the servicemen with no chance to work properly on about 40 new pairs of skis, until Russia offered them a solution.
With the help of Sergey Kushchenko, the Russian vice president of the International Biathlon Union, the Germans got access to the Russian grinding machine and could use it for one night — enough to get the skis ready.
What sounds like a feel-good story, however, has become a touchy affair.
According to several media reports, Germany had unsuccessfully asked several other nations, including neighbor Austria, for help before getting access to the Russian machine.
That allegation, however, has now upset the Austrian Olympic Committee. "There was never such request to the Austrian ski federation," the AOC said in a statement on Sunday.
Having used its own grinding machine, Austria has already welcomed its first medal as biathlete Dominik Landertinger came second in the men's 10-kilometer sprint on Saturday.
— By Eric Willemsen — Twitter http://twitter.com/eWilmedia
Associated Press reporters will be filing dispatches about happenings in and around Sochi during the 2014 Winter Games. Follow AP journalists covering the Olympics on Twitter: http://apne.ws/1c3WMiu