Ukranian Olympian who quit says she's more citizen than athlete

An aerial view shows Kyiv's Independence (Maidan) Square following some of the worst clashes between anti-government protesters and riot police on Wednesday. (Olga Yakimovich / Reuters)

An aerial view shows Kyiv's Independence (Maidan) Square following some of the worst clashes between anti-government protesters and riot police on Wednesday. (Olga Yakimovich / Reuters)

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Ukrainian alpine skier Bogdana Matsotska explains why she dropped out of her last event as an escalating crisis -- triggered by a controversial pact with Russia -- rages on in her home country. Tensions reached a fever pitch this week as authorities opened fire on protesters.

Several observers -- including the U.S., Russia and the European Union -- are deeply concerned about the future of Ukraine, a nation of 46 million that has divided loyalties between Russia and the West. The present conflict traces back to November, when Ukraine cancelled a pact with the European Union in favour of closer ties with Russia, and has since broadened to include a wider range of issues.

Roughly 77 people died Thursday in the deadliest day in Ukraine's post-Soviet history.

Difficult to watch

Matsotska, who was slated to compete in the slalom competition Friday, has so far been unable to find a flight back to Ukraine. She tells Kevin she may be stuck in Sochi until the 24th.

"It's really hard to sit here. To watch and know that lots of people died," she says, adding that she's thinking about joining the protests.

"I don't think of my safety. I cannot think about it."

It was not easy for her to put aside years of training to withdraw in protest.

"It's really hard to sit and watch the race in which I decided not to compete," says Matsotska, who pulled out when she was forbidden from wearing a black armband in solidarity with the protests.

"I want to go home, not to stay here."



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