RIA-Novosti Roundup -- U.S., Russia Reach Security Deal; KHL Shortens Season

(ATR) Obama, Putin agree on security efforts for Sochi... KHL taking a break for Olympics... Gold medal-winning duo reunite with Sochi dreams... More inside from Around the Rings' Sochi 2014 media partner RIA-Novosti... 

Russia, US to Join Efforts for Sochi-2014 Security

Security issues at large-scale sporting and public events, including the 2014 Winter Olympic Games in Sochi, will become an area of interaction between Russia and the United States, the leaders of the two states said in a joint statement on Tuesday.

Vladimir Putin and Barack Obama met late on Monday on the sidelines of the G8 summit in Northern Ireland.

"The United States and Russia intend to continue to develop their counterterrorism partnership with the business community, including in the field of protecting the tourist sector. Providing security for major sporting and public events, including the Winter Olympic Games in Sochi, is to be an important area of interaction," the two leaders said in a joint statement.

At a news conference after the meeting, Obama reiterated that the two states should enhance cooperation in counter-terrorism and other areas, including public security issues related to next year’s Sochi Olympics.

Security at Sochi will be tight, and test events have taken place with a heavy police presence. The issue came under the spotlight in April when two suspects with links to Russia’s volatile North Caucasus allegedly detonated bombs at the Boston marathon.

Next year's Winter Olympics will be held from February 7 to 23.

KHL Gets 14-Day Break Before Start of Sochi Olympics

The KHL will halt next season’s schedule a full two weeks before the start of the Sochi 2014 Olympics hockey tournament, league vice-president Vladimir Shalaev said on Monday.

The 52-game season, which opens on September 4 in Moscow, will break on January 30, 2014, and resume on February 26. The first Olympic hockey game is scheduled for February 12.

The sizeable rest starkly contrasts what the NHL and NHL Players’ Association are proposing for its schedule as part of ongoing negotiations with international hockey officials and Olympic organizers over releasing its players for the Games.

NHL officials have said the league would pause on February 9, giving Olympians only three days to fly to Europe.

On Monday, Shalaev attacked the 2013-14 schedule, saying he was "embarrassed" it offers only 52 games due to international hockey commitments. The KHL regularly breaks three weekends each year for the four-team Euro Hockey Tour.

"A league like the KHL has no right giving fans only 52 games in the regular season," he said. "It’s a mockery; it’s like making Pavarotti sing once a year."

By comparison, the NHL has scheduled 82 games each season since the mid-1990s.

The KHL’s two-week hiatus means the Russian national team could stage a lengthy training camp with KHLers before stalwarts Alexander Ovechkin, Evgeni Malkin, Pavel Datsyuk and Ilya Kovalchuk arrive from North America.

Indeed, Russian hockey federation president Vladimir Tretiak told R-Sport last month it was the league’s duty to organize its regular season schedule based on the interests of the men’s national team.

Russia is still reeling from a quarterfinals defeat at the world hockey championship in Stockholm earlier this month, when they lost 8-3 to the United States. They suffered a humiliating 2-1 preliminary-round loss to France, which is ranked 13 in the world, raising questions about the national program’s potential as Russia gets set to host its first Winter Olympics.

In 2010, the league paused on February 8, five days before the tournament opened at the Vancouver Olympics.

Olympic Ice Dance Champions Stage Shock Comeback for Sochi

Former Olympic ice dance champions Marina Anissina and Gwendal Peizerat are to reunite for a surprise comeback, hoping to qualify for next year’s winter Olympics in Sochi, Anissina has told R-Sport.

The pair won gold for France in 2002 and retired immediately afterwards, in favor of dancing at exhibition shows.

With Peizerat aged 41 and Anissina 37 they would be by far the oldest pair in elite ice dance. By comparison, Canada’s Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir were both 21 when they won gold at the last Olympics in Vancouver in 2010.

"We got an offer from the Frenchfigure skating federation and the French sports ministry about taking part in the Olympic Games in Sochi," the Moscow-born dancer said, adding that her Russian origins played a decisive role in her decision to accept.

"In my view, it’s very interesting and tempting. If the Olympics weren’t taking place in Russia, I’d have let this news pass me by, probably. But it’s like this - we have the desire and the strength."

Since the pair retired in 2002, figure skating authorities have brought in a new scoring system which aims to eliminate the allegations of corrupt judging that caused a scandal in the 2002 Olympic pairs skating competition.

Anissina was quick to dismiss suggestions the new system might require her to change.

"With this judging system you could even teach a bear to skate," she said.

Modern figure skating lacks fresh ideas, paving the way for Anissina and Peizerat to succeed, she added.

"No one wants to do anything new, unusual or creative," she said. "I’ve understood, in the end, that you can think something up, like we always thought something up."

In order for Anissina and Peizerat to compete for France at next year’s Olympics in Sochi, Russia, she will need to take one of the country’s two qualifying slots.

Double European champions Nathalie Pechalat and Fabien Bourzat are hot favorites to take the first French entry, meaning Anissina and Peizzerat would need to edge out Pernelle Carron and Lloyd Jones, who took 12th place at the world championships in March.

Anissina said she would soon head to France to iron out the details of her and Peizerat’s revived partnership. Since retirement, the two have regularly performed in shows, but Anissina conceded they had not done competition-standard training "for years."

Published by exclusive arrangement with RIA-Novosti, host news agency of Sochi 2014.

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