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Gloves off as IOC claim US helmets break rules

United States ice hockey goalkeepers Ryan Miller and Jonathan Quick have to cover or remove some words from their helmets that are in violation of International Olympic Committee rules.

Miller had 'Miller Time' on the back of his helmet on Monday during practice and Jonathan Quick's helmet has 'Support Our Troops' adorned on his mask.

International Ice Hockey Federation (IIHF) spokesman Szymon Szemberg confirmed both players will be told to take those messages off their equipment because it's the governing bodies' task to enforce IOC rule No51 that bars advertising, demonstrations and propaganda.

"We're going to meet with USA Hockey tonight to see what their thoughts are," US Olympic Committee (USOC) spokesman Bob Condron said. "We don't know if it's a federation or a USOC situation."

The Americans were due to play their first game of the Olympics yesterday against Switzerland.

Earlier, Miller acknowledged knowing about the rules that prohibit corporate sponsorships at the Olympics, but went ahead and had 'Miller Time' painted on the mask he designed for the Vancouver Games. Miller said he had been informed to get rid of the tag line because it's a slogan for a beer maker.

"Just having fun," Miller said with a wink.

But he's upset officials are also taking issue with the words 'Matt Man' on his helmet because that pays tribute to a cousin, Matt Schoals, who died of cancer.

"I'm going to stand up for that," Miller said.

Event frozen by ice misery

The ultra-green sheen to speed skating at the Olympic Oval was dealt a blow on Monday when Games officials said they were bringing in a propane-powered Zamboni to replace a bulky battery-operated ice resurfacer.

A mechanical problem with the Olympia Ice Resurfacer delayed action for the second day in a row, causing more than an hour-long interruption in Monday's men's 500m race.

One of the two machines originally used also broke down while preparing the ice midway through the women's 3,000m race at the oval, a striking new facility built on environmentally friendly lines.

Magnus Enfeldt, venue operations manager, told reporters after the conclusion of the 500m race that they were turning to a standard Zamboni given the problems at the oval.

Japan's Yasuda too heavy

Aya Yasuda of Japan was disqualified from the women's luge on Monday for being overweight, not that she needs to go on a diet.

Yasuda, who tips the scales at a slender 60kg (132lbs) miscalculated the additional weight lugers are allowed to carry as ballast and failed the compulsory weigh-in after her first run at the Whistler Sliding Centre.

"During a weight check at the finish of the run one the athlete's additional weight exceeded the maximum allowed, which was 13.1 kilos," race organisers said. "Her actual weight was 13.3 kilos."

Madoka Harada, Japan's other luger, was 23rd after two runs.

Near miss was 'no big deal'

The International Ski Federation has dismissed as "no big deal" an incident when a racer in the men's Olympic Alpine downhill nearly hit a course worker who fell near the finish line.

Race director Guenter Hujara conceded on Monday the incident involving Australian skier Craig Branch "looked a little scary".

But he called it "no big deal" after an investigation showed official procedures to flag down racers for safety reasons were followed.

The volunteer had finished grooming the icy snow between runners and slipped as Branch approached the final jump.

Branch, who was No 39 of 64 starters, skied directly ahead as the volunteer scrambled off the course. He placed 34th. Hujara said the next racer was stopped until the track was cleared.