SOCHI, Russia – Now that Alex Ovechkin and Russian men's hockey team are in action at the Sochi Games, the party has officially started.
Officials say 106,000 fans packed the Olympic Park on Thursday, a record number for these games that also just happened to coincide with the Russian hockey team's first game of the tournament.
Park attendance had typically ranged from 70-75,000 fans for the first five days of competition after the opening ceremony, numbers that encouraged organizers but made for a rather relaxed atmosphere on the enormous coastal campus.
There was much more buzz Thursday, with long lines at concession stands and at the Olympic store and fans flooding into the park to watch the Russians beat Slovenia 5-2. The influx of fans helped push attendance numbers for the park to over 500,000 people.
Dmitry Chernyshenko, chief executive of the Sochi 2014 organizing committee, puts it this way: "We're all dreaming about the finals, especially in ice hockey, the most dramatic (moment) for us Russians of the games."
— By Jon Krawczynski — Twitter http://twitter.com/APKrawczynski
Associated Press reporters are filing dispatches about happenings in and around Sochi during the 2014 Winter Games. Follow AP journalists covering the Olympics on Twitter: http://apne.ws/1c3WMiu