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Nice to have a reason to root against the Russians again

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Patrick Kane #88 of the United States attempts a shot on goal against Sergei Bobrovski #72 of Russia on day 8 of the Sochi 2014 Winter Olympics

Patrick Kane #88 of the United States attempts a shot on goal against Sergei Bobrovski #72 of Russia on day 8 of the Sochi 2014 Winter Olympics

Patrick Kane #88 of the United States attempts a shot on goal against Sergei Bobrovski #72 of Russia on day 8 of the Sochi 2014 Winter Olympics

I hadn't realised how much I missed the Cold War until the Sochi Olympics came around.

As an American, I am comfortable admitting that our empire is in decline. Yet these Winter Olympics were being pitched as a grand procession for the burgeoning Putin empire and its endless supply of petrochemicals – only things haven't gone exactly to plan.

On Saturday afternoon, the Russians suffered the indignity of losing to the Yanks in ice hockey in a nail-biting penalty shoot-out. Putin was in attendance beside two apparatchiks and looked particularly enraged when referees ruled out a Russian goal late in the third period.

While the hosts and pre-tournament favourites are far from eliminated, one wonders if they can recover from the trauma of watching TJ Oshie's incredible performance in the penalties (one of the lamer quirks of Olympics ice hockey is that teams can use the same penalty-taker once a certain amount of penalties have been taken. Oshie took six and made four)

Before the shocking defeat, the Russian media has been consumed with the fall from grace of ice skater Evgeni Plushenko, who entered the Olympics with an injury, crashed out of the individual event after falling in a warm-up, and then subsequently retired. Plushenko said the Russian Olympic federation forced him to skate.

Yesterday, the state began a formal crackdown when two members of Pussy Riot were arrested while walking through Sochi. Putin is everywhere in Sochi, and he hopes he'll get the last laugh with a potential rematch with the USA in the gold medal hockey game on Sunday.

Whatever happens, there's something to be said for 'the old enemy'; it's nice to have a reason to root against Russia again.

Irish Independent