KRASNAYA POLYANA, Russia – Ukraine's last remaining Alpine skier at the Sochi Olympics is competing with the blessing of his more famous and controversial teammate.
Dmytro Mytsak told The Associated Press that Bogdana Matsotska wished him well Saturday, and he hoped she would come to watch his second run in the men's slalom. Matsotska refused to race in Friday's women's slalom while her friends were risking their lives to protest in Kiev against Ukraine's pro-Russia government.
"It is her solution," the 18-year-old Mytsak said. "Some friends they die in Ukraine and she was really mad about this. That is why she just could not start.
"I will not say something like, 'You should not do it,' because it is her opinion. Everybody has their own opinion."
Mytsak said Matsotska, who has remained in the athletes village in the mountains, is "OK right now."
"She will stay until the end and cheer for us," he said.
Mytsak wore bib No. 102 of 117 starters under the floodlights Saturday. He was 72nd-fastest, 14.87 seconds behind leader Mario Matt of Austria. His race-time concentration was affected more by the soft, rutted snow than thoughts of events in Kiev, where his family lives.
"Yeah, I'm OK. I feel good," he said. "I never ski like this. It was not alpine skiing now."
He looks forward to competing in more Olympic Games, maybe even at home in 2022. Lviv, in western Ukraine, is bidding for hosting rights.
"You know, like they say, that at home you are skiing much more better because it is your ground, and your country, and your people," Mytsak said.
— By Graham Dunbar — Twitter http://twitter.com/gdunbarap
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