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Injury to keep U.S. hockey team's GM away from Sochi Olympics

Winter OlympicsSportsOlympicsBobsleddingDomestic TravelLolo JonesTwitter, Inc.

SOCHI, Russia — Team USA General Manager David Poile will not travel to Russia for the Olympic men's hockey tournament because of injuries he suffered last week when he was hit in the face by an errant puck.

Poile underwent surgery for facial injuries shortly after the incident in St. Paul, Minn. Team USA officials said Monday that he has since returned to Nashville, where he is general manager of the Predators, and has been advised not to make the long trip to Sochi.

Ray Shero, general manager of the Pittsburgh Penguins, will be Team USA's acting general manager in Russia though Poile will be available by phone.

FRAMEWORK: Best images from the Sochi Olympics

Jim Johannson, assistant executive director of hockey operations for USA Hockey, made the announcement after the American team practiced at the Bolshoy Ice Dome.

"We're in very good and constant communication with David the past three days and certainly today," Johannson said. "He's our general manager. It's just unfortunate that he can't join us in Sochi."

"One of the things USA Hockey is proud of is how we've built this management group to assist our national teams at all levels and this just shows the strength we have as a group. We're going to miss David as a friend, probably more than anything. But we're going to miss a guy that's been so dedicated to our programs. ... We'll be carrying a big part of him with us all week."

—Helene Elliott

Bobsledder Lolo Jones overcomes illness

U.S. bobsledder Lolo Jones appears to have been under the weather.

The track star-turned-Winter Olympian apparently had been suffering from cold and flu symptoms over the weekend, prompting her to be briefly kept away from the rest of the team.

Jones and teammate Lauryn Williams are set to become the ninth and 10th Americans to compete in the Winter and Summer Games.

Jones was back with the team Monday, according her Twitter account.

"Just released ... been in quarantine room in Olympic. Single room was nice just wish I had one of those stray dogs to keep me company," Jones tweeted, referring to the dogs that have made headlines first for their prevalence in Sochi and then for their rapidly dwindling ranks.

Jones, a former indoor hurdles world champion, competed at two Olympics but did not win a medal. She is slated to ride with pilot Jazmine Fenlator in USA-3 when the women's bobsled competition begins next week.

—Stacy St. Clair

Alexander Ovechkin joins Russia's hockey team

Alexander Ovechkin's face has been all over Sochi on advertisements to promote the Winter Olympics. Finally, the Washington Capitals' stellar winger arrived in person and practiced with Team Russia, skating on the wing with Evgeni Malkin and Alexander Semin.

Competing in the Olympics in his homeland means a lot to Ovechkin, so much, in fact, that he long ago said he would come here on his own if the NHL, the players' association and International Ice Hockey Federation hadn't reached an agreement on terms for allowing players to play for their respective countries.

There will be a huge burden on Ovechkin to help bring host Russia its first gold medal since it competed as part of the Unified team at Albertville, France, in 1992. And Russia might have to start, at least, without center Pavel Datsyuk, who has a lower-body injury and didn't participate in Monday's practice.

But on Monday, mere hours off a flight from the United States and after a get-your-legs-moving practice, Ovechkin wasn't ready to contemplate all of that.

"The pressure is going to come 100% but right now we just have jet lag. We have a different time right now. I'm pretty sure you guys had the same thing for a couple days," he told reporters.

"Right now we just don't realize what's going on but I'm pretty sure [Tuesday] is going to be better."

Asked whether this would be the best hockey tournament ever, he said, "I hope so. We'll try our best."

—Helene Elliott

Head games

Twitter has spoken and it appears Katie Uhlaender intends to listen.

Uhlaender announced that she will wear an eagle-themed helmet when she competes in the women's skeleton this week. The three-time Olympian let the public choose between two helmet designs via a vote on Twitter over the weekend and was stunned by the response.

"I didn't realize it was going to go that crazy," she said.

The interactive idea came to Uhlaender when she was in the village and joking around with snowboarders, including gold medalist Jamie Anderson, about which helmet to wear.

"I just decided to tweet a photo of both helmets and see what the public thought. Because I wasn't sure about changing helmets just before the Olympics was a good idea and it blew up," Uhlaender said. "There were like 1,000 tweets about it. I decided to tally it up and let them pick my helmet."

The social media-endorsed helmet was done by the same person who designed Olympic champion skier Picabo Street's helmets. Street has served as a mentor to Uhlaender, helping her regain her competitive focus after her father's death.

"She is an inspiration for me," Uhlaender said. "She offered to hook me up with her guy that painted her 2002 helmet, and this is what he came up with."

Uhlaender, the daughter of former Minnesota Twins outfielder Ted Uhlaender, will compete Friday. She is ranked 13th in the world after battling injury during the season. She finished third in the test event held in Sochi last year, making her an early favorite to win a medal at the Sliding Center Sanki.

"It's coming along and I feel really good on the track," she said. "It's tricky. There are three uphill sections here. If you make a mistake, it's over."

—Stacy St. Clair

Copyright © 2014, Los Angeles Times
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