Crosby and Ovechkin bring star power to Sochi

Mon Feb 10, 2014 1:56pm EST
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By Steve Keating

SOCHI, Russia (Reuters) - Alex Ovechkin and Sidney Crosby, ice hockey's two biggest names, arrived at the Sochi Winter Games on Monday, adding their considerable star power to the Olympic buzz.

With the men's ice hockey tournament starting on Wednesday, Crosby and Ovechkin joined their respective team mates to shake off the jet lag after their flights from North America.

"We figured if we got some exercise this time of night we would have a better chance of staying up until midnight, have opportunity to see how big the ice was and go through some things," said Team Canada coach Mike Babcock.

"We had some fun, we competed a little bit, tried some combinations but we'll really get started for all intents and purposes tomorrow.

"We understand what it takes, how hard the Olympic Games is to win a medal. Our preparation has to be equal to the opportunity and the opportunity is great."

The men's tournament starts four days later than the women's because the top players were still involved in the National Hockey League, which is now on a two week break for the Olympics.

The competition kicks off with Czech Republic taking on Sweden and Latvia going against Switzerland but the marquee matchup of the preliminary round will come on Saturday when Russia plays the United States in a clash that will harken back to the 1980 Lake Placid Olympic 'Miracle on Ice'.

At those Winter Games, it was a group of American college players going up against Russia's imposing Big Red Machine, but Sochi will feature the world's highest-paid professionals going toe-to-toe for gold.   Continued...

Canada's men's ice hockey player Sidney Crosby attends the team's first practice at the 2014 Sochi Winter Olympics, February 10, 2014. REUTERS/Brian Snyder