State Department issues travel alert for Americans attending Olympics

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WASHINGTON — Americans planning to attend the Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia, should be vigilant about their security due to potential terrorist threats, crime and uncertain medical care, the State Department advised Friday.

In a travel alert, the department said it was not aware of specific threats to U.S. interests related to the Games that begin in February. But it said large events like the Olympics are “an attractive target for terrorists” and Americans should be aware of their surroundings and take common-sense precautions to stay safe, notably on public transport.

Public transport in the general vicinity of Sochi has been targeted by terrorists as recently as late December, although the department stressed that those attacks took place in the city of Volgograd, some 600 miles from the Games venue.

A group designated by the State Department as a foreign terrorist organization, the Caucasus Emirate, has called for attacks on the Olympics, it said.

Although the group’s ability to strike the Games is not clear, the alert noted that the group has in the past been responsible for large-scale attacks on targets including a ski resort, a metro system, a high-speed rail, an airport and a theater.

The alert pointed out that Russia has vowed to take appropriate security measures to protect athletes, spectators and infrastructure.

FIGURE SKATING: In Boston, Meryl Davis and Charlie White didn’t have to think about their footwork and spins. Those elements of their short dance were near-flawless, as is frequently the case with the world champions.

They could plunge into telling the story of the selections from My Fair Lady at the U.S. Figure Skating Championships on Friday. Davis and White broke their own record with 80.69 points to open a big lead, well on their way to a sixth national title in a row.

Davis and White are more than seven points ahead of Madison Chock and Evan Bates, last year’s runners-up.

On the final lift, they spun across the ice in a dizzying blur with the tails of White’s tuxedo flying behind, and she could look up to the crowd with eyes glowing.

Coach Marina Zoueva had wanted them to skate to this music for several years.

“As we have grown with the program, we fell in love with the program and what it means … that exuberant joy,” Davis said.

CANADIAN CHAMPIONSHIPS: In Ottawa, Ontario, Kaetlyn Osmond won the women’s singles short program.

Coming off an ankle injury and a torn hamstring, the 18-year-old Osmond landed a triple flip-triple toe loop combination, then a triple Lutz to score 70.3 points for her ’60s-inspired performance to Big Spender and Rich Man’s Frug.

“I have this little jump at the end of my program and I think I put more energy into that little half jump than I did into my entire program because I was so excited,” Osmond said. “And when I went to do my curtsy, I couldn’t help but be relieved.”

Amelie Lacoste was second at 61.27, followed by 15-year-old Gabrielle Daleman at 58.38.

Canada has two berths in women’s singles for the Sochi Olympics.

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