Russia, making its debut Thursday morning in a gold-or-bust Olympic men’s hockey tournament, led Slovenia just 3-2 after two periods before pulling away in the third for a 5-2 victory. But the tiny former Yugoslav republic is stealing some headlines at Sochi, and not only for its divisive, Seattle Seahawks-esque hockey uniforms (above).
Only one member of its hockey team is currently playing in the NHL, but center Anze Kopitar of the Los Angeles Kings has impressive credentials. He won a Stanley Cup with the Kings in 2012, when he scored 20 points in 20 playoff games; has scored at least 61 points in every full NHL regular season since he broken into the league in 2006-07; and leads the Kings this season with 47 points (17 goals, 30 assists). His father, Matjaz, is the Slovenian team’s head coach.
The men’s hockey team is in the Olympics for the first time and is considered a long shot to medal, the country of slightly more than 2 million, which has been independent since 1991, has had plenty of success in other winter sports.
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Tina Maze scored the country’s first-ever
Olympic Winter Olympic gold medal on Wednesday, finishing in an unprecedented tie in the women’s downhill with Dominique Gisin of Switzerland. Maze is a superstar in her sport, having won last season’s overall World Cup Alpine skiing title with 2,414 points and 24 top-three finishes, both records for men or women. She also won two silver medals at the 2010 Vancouver Games.
Through Wednesday’s events, the country also earned a silver medal (Peter Prevc in normal-hill ski jumping) and two bronzes (Vesna Fabjan in women’s sprint cross-country skiing and Teja Gregorin in women’s pursuit biathlon). That’s one medal for every 514,385 citizens, the second-best per capita performance of any country in Sochi behind Norway (one for every 417,142 people). The United States, by comparison, had nine medals through Wednesday’s events, or one for every 34,820,222 citizens.