U.S. hockey team seeks its own historic achievement 

click to enlarge Winter Olympics
  • AP Photo/Julie Jacobson
  • USA defenseman Ryan McDonagh, right, and forward Ryan Callahan run through a drill during a training session at the 2014 Winter Olympics, Monday, Feb. 10, 2014, in Sochi, Russia.
SOCHI, Russia — David Backes realizes every U.S. Olympic hockey team inevitably ends up in the vast shadow of the 1980 Miracle on Ice squad, which stunned the Soviet Union and eventually won gold in Lake Placid.

Although the American players who held their first practice in Sochi on Monday know all about the greatest achievement in U.S. hockey history, they think it’s time for some fresh heroics.

After all, this is the first U.S. Olympic hockey team featuring no player born when the Miracle occurred.

“I think the Miracle obviously is a great accomplishment for the U.S., but it was 34 years ago, and we’re still living on something that happened 34 years ago,” said Backes, a two-time Olympian. “As great as it was, and as awesome an accomplishment, I think the guys here would like to write our own chapter, and then we can talk about ‘80 and 2014.”

The U.S. team lost the final to Canada in Salt Lake City in 2002 and again in Vancouver. The Americans are aiming for more when they begin play Thursday against Slovakia.

Halfpipe problems mounting: Rider after rider took a crash course Monday night on an Olympic halfpipe that looked only half ready with less than 24 hours until men’s competition is set to start. There were dozens of falls, very few big tricks and a lot of complaining during a practice session that was pushed from morning to night while workers tried to make fixes. The men’s event is today.

Sochi drone used for TV: That drone you might have spotted hovering and zipping around the Sochi Olympic slopes isn’t searching for terrorists or protesters hiding behind the fir trees. It’s being used to transmit live video of snowboard and ski jump competitions to a screen near you. Unlike military drones, which often look like a remote-controlled airplane, the creature floating around Sochi resembles a huge flying spider.

Heating up: Temperatures at the Winter Olympics soared to 61 degrees F along the Black Sea coast, while it was well above freezing in the nearby mountains, where skiers were putting snow in their racing suits to cool down and ski jumpers were landing in puddles. The weather could get even warmer by the end of the week.

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