Todd Lodwick skis to a first-place finish in the 10-kilometer cross-country… (Harry How / Getty Images )
SOCHI, Russia — Now that he has been chosen as the U.S. team's flag bearer for the 2014 Sochi Olympics opening ceremony, Todd Lodwick faces a potentially painful challenge.
Holding the flag.
Less than a month ago, the Nordic combined athlete fell hard in the ski jump portion of a competition in France. He fractured his left shoulder, tearing the labrum and ligaments.
"It was a devastating crash," he said.
Lodwick, who competed in his first Olympics in 1994, kept the arm immobilized for three weeks, taking it out of a sling only for physical therapy.
This regimen got him healthy enough for his sixth Winter Games. He estimated the shoulder is now at 90%.
"I'm ready," he said of the opening ceremony and the competition. "And I'm going to kick a lot of butt."
— David Wharton
Things are once again running cool for the Jamaican bobsled team, which had spent two days here scrambling to find their luggage and equipment lost en route to the Games.
The missing gear — which included their all-important sled blades, clothes and shoes — arrived in Sochi around midnight Thursday. It all seemed to be in working order, if a little dusty.
"We got our clothes, but it was full of protein powder," sled pilot Winston Watts said. "[Security] opened the protein powder containers, and never closed the tins. The containers were sealed. And they left them open. In my helmet today, I had protein powder going into my eyes."
The mishap prevented the team from taking practice runs with their sled Wednesday, the first day of training. The Canadians had offered to lend the team their blades if the luggage could not be located.
— Stacy St. Clair
No political talk
Bode Miller and Julia Mancuso have strong personalities and opinions, but this might not be the time or the place.
Miller and Mancuso are the stars of the U.S. Alpine team and winners of a combined eight Olympic medals.
At a Thursday news conference neither seemed interested in delving into the political controversies surrounding the Sochi Games.
"I don't feel like the Olympics is the place for that kind of politics," Miller said. "It's a place for sports."
Miller, owner of five Olympic medals and the winner of Thursday's first downhill training run at Rosa Khutor, did say that the Games have that "not quite finished" look.
The Alpine team is staying in the mountains, outside the Olympic village.
Miller, though, added that most of the five Olympics he's competed in have a rushed-into-production feel.
"I won't pass any judgment until after opening ceremonies," Miller joked of Sochi. "So they have a few hours to finish things up."
Mancuso, winner of three medals and competing in her fourth Olympics, dodged a question about Russia's policy on gay and lesbian rights.
"We're here to compete," she said. "We're here to do our job, which is to go fast."
— Chris Dufresne
More law debate
The debate over Russia's anti-gay law continued at the 2014 Sochi Olympics with American and Russian officials facing questions on the issue.
The discussion followed news that three sponsors of the U.S. Olympic Committee — AT&T, DeVry University and yogurt maker Chobani — had taken public stands against the law.
A USOC official insisted the controversy had not hurt her organization.
"We have not lost any revenue," Lisa Baird, USOC chief marketing officer, said. "Companies are drawn to Team USA because it is an incredibly diverse team."
Russian Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Kozak repeated two common government themes. One holds that, despite the law that criminalizes discussion of gay rights in the presence of minors, his country does not discriminate. The other focuses on protecting children.
"Every adult has their own right to understand their sexual activity," Kozak said. "Please do not touch the kids; that is the only thing."
— David Wharton