Vonn takes Twitter troll to the cleaners

PYEONGCHANG - US ski queen Lindsey Vonn had some fun at the expense of a Twitter troll and showed she is in jovial form in the build-up to the Winter Games. She had the last laugh, along with her many fans, when an anonymous critic on Twitter took aim at her, writing: "Loved the way you were unable to take criticism on Dancing With The Stars! I know it must have been a real learning experience." There was only one problem with the dig at Vonn, as she pointed out in firing back: "I'm sorry this made me laugh. I was never on Dancing with the Stars, but thanks for the criticism none the less, high fives buddy." Vonn's supporters on Twitter took great glee in weighing in on her behalf, coming up with a variety of other ills that didn't involve her, using the hashtag #thingslindseydidntdo. –AFP



Bach defends Russia doping response

PYEONGCHANG - Olympics chief Thomas Bach defended his handling of the Russian doping scandal on Wednesday as legal bids by 47 Russians to join the Winter Games looked set to go down to the wire. Bach refused to be drawn on the cases before the Court of Arbitration for Sport, which has already lifted life bans imposed on 28 Russians by the IOC. Fifteen of the Russians are appealing against the IOC's decision to refuse them invitations for the Pyeongchang Winter Olympics. Another 32, including Korean-born speed skater Victor An, launched a similar appeal on Tuesday. The cases have been adjourned until Thursday. Bach, asked whether he had presided over a "fiasco", said this week's IOC session had overwhelmingly backed a vote of confidence in the handling of the crisis.–AFP



He who must not be named – Kim Jong-Un

PYEONGCHANG - When North Korea's chef de mission at the Winter Olympics in the South visited an athletes' village fitness centre he made a point of cheerily greeting each volunteer by name, reading them off their badges. But Won Gil-U came to a screeching halt when he met a young woman called Ko Jong-Un. Her forename matches that of North Korean leader Kim Jong-Un, and Won was stunned into silence. After some moments he found his voice. "When he turned to me, he stared at my name tag and froze for a few seconds without a word," Ko was quoted as saying. Then, he said: 'I wouldn't dare to pronounce your name'. We all broke into hearty laughter." The ruling Kim dynasty are revered within North Korea, where Kim Jong-Un is normally referred to as "Supreme Leader" or "Respected Marshal".–AFP



Smartphone ban for N Korea, Iran athletes

SEOUL - North Korean and Iranian athletes at the Winter Olympics will not receive high-end smartphones being handed out to their fellow competitors because of UN sanctions, organisers said Wednesday. Games sponsor Samsung Electronics has donated 4,000 "Olympic edition" handsets of its flagship Galaxy Note 8 device to be distributed among athletes and IOC officials free of charge. But a Pyeongchang organising committee spokeswoman told AFP: "North Korean and Iranian athletes will be excluded because of existing UN sanctions" against the two countries. The devices retail for around 1,000,000 South Korean won ($920) and so could fall foul of measures banning supplies of luxury goods. North Korea has sent 22 athletes to the Olympics. Only 10 of them will compete for their country at the Games.–AFP


Wrap up - opening ceremony to feel like -10

PYEONGCHANG  - Fans and Athletes at Friday's Winter Olympics opening ceremony need to wrap up warm and be prepared for punishing conditions that will feel like minus 10 degrees Celsius, forecasters warned on Wednesday. Pyeongchang's biting chill has been a major talking point ahead of the Games' official start, with even athletes from cold countries saying they were suffering as temperatures plunged to minus 21C (minus 6F) this week. Forecasters said on Wednesday that temperatures late on Friday at the stadium -- which has no roof -- will be between minus five and minus two celsius for the opening gala. However, the wind chill will make it feel like minus 10, the weather experts said. Snow is forecast for Saturday, but organisers and forecasters say they are well prepared.–AFP