SOCHI SCENE: 'I hope so'

SOCHI, Russia (AP) Russian president Vladimir Putin spent the moments before his country's highly anticipated hockey showdown with the United States in a relaxed seaside cafe, sipping coffee and chatting with Olympic executives.

Asked afterward whether he thought Russia would beat the U.S., Putin replied: ''I hope so.''

Though short, Putin's teatime visit to the small outdoor cafe on Saturday attracted a small crowd before he walked up the promenade with IOC President Thomas Bach.

Putin and Bach sat next to each other at a table with former IOC President Jacques Rogge; Jean-Claude Killy, chairman of the IOC coordinating group for the Sochi Games; Russian politicians Dmitry Kozak and Alexander Zhukov and an interpreter.

The unannounced visit was relatively low key, with macaroons and dessert bread left at the table uneaten and part of the conversation about the weather and snow.

- By Oskar Garcia - Twitter http://twitter.com/oskargarcia

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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

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