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Russians aim to avenge shock 1980 ice hockey defeat to U.S.

By Keith Weir

SOCHI, Russia (Reuters) - Russia will seek revenge for a shock 1980 Olympic ice hockey defeat to the United States when the two meet in a group game at the Winter Olympics on Saturday.

The heavyweight clash has evoked memories of the "Miracle on Ice" more than three decades ago when a team of American college players defied the odds to beat the Soviet Union's "Big Red Machine" 4-3.

Elsewhere in Sochi there are seven gold medals to be won, with the women's super G skiing race another highlight.

Favorites include Slovenia's Tina Maze, who took gold alongside Swiss Dominique Gisin in the dramatic tied downhill on Wednesday. German Maria Hoefl-Riesch will be looking to add to the combined title she has already won in Sochi.

Shani Davis attempts to end America's speed skating drought in the men's 1,500 meters but he faces tough opposition from Koen Verweij, who is aiming to maintain Dutch dominance on the ice in the Adler Arena.

Norway's women look certainties to retain the cross-country relay title they won in Vancouver, having stayed unbeaten in the team format since.

Russian Alexander Tretiakov is well set to win a first Russian gold in skeleton, heading into Saturday's final two heats with a useful advantage over Latvian Martins Dukurs.

Austria's ski jumping team, surprisingly shut out of the normal hill final, hoping to restore honor in the large hill event where Poland's Kamil Stoch will be the man to beat.

There are two golds up for grabs in the rough and tumble world of short track speed skating. In the 1,500 meters, China's Zhou Yang defends her 2010 title, while Canadian Charles Hamelin seeks his second Sochi gold in the 1,000 meters.

(Editing by Peter Rutherford)

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