Austrian Olympic Committee gets kidnap threat against athletes Schild, Flock at Sochi Games

The Associated Press

Marlies Schild of Austria competes during the first run of a alpine women's World Cup Slalom in Kranjska Gora, Slovenia, Sunday, Feb. 2, 2014. (AP Photo/Giovanni Auletta)

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By ERIC WILLEMSEN, Associated Press

VIENNA (AP) — The Austrian Olympic Committee has received an anonymous letter containing a kidnap threat against Alpine skier Marlies Schild and skeleton pilot Janine Flock during the Sochi Games.

The letter, written in German, was delivered Monday into the mailbox of its Vienna office, AOC general secretary Peter Mennel said Tuesday.

"We have immediately alerted the Federal Criminal Agency, which is investigating the case," Mennel said.

Interior Ministry spokesman Karl-Heinz Grundboeck confirmed the ongoing investigation, adding that Russian authorities had been informed and that no information would be made public if or when additional security measures were established for Schild and Flock.

The AOC said in a statement that it was "not regarding it as an acute threat at the moment."

Mennel discussed the matter with Flock on Tuesday during a flight from Vienna to Sochi.

"She is not worried, she trusts in our security measures," Mennel said, adding that Austrian athletes will be accompanied by members of a police special taskforce when they leave the Olympic Village. "We have two security people here and if the threat is confirmed as actual we will give additional security to the athletes."

Schild is scheduled to travel to Russia next week as she will only compete in the women's slalom on Feb. 21.

"I can't judge the situation right now," Schild told the Austria Presse Agency. "I am not someone who easily panics but this obviously gives me an unpleasant feeling."

Schild said she learned of the kidnap threats through news reports, adding "It's a bit weird to hear it from the media."

"I hope the issue will be solved immediately," she said. "Only experts can tell how to judge this."

Schild, who won silver in slalom in Vancouver four years ago, is set to compete in her fourth Olympics. She also won silver in the combined event and bronze in slalom at the 2006 Turin Games.

In December, Schild set the record for most World Cup slalom wins by a female skier with her 35th victory.

Flock, who is set to make her first Olympic appearance, won the European skeleton title last month at a World Cup event in Koenigssee, Germany.

The kidnap threat comes less than two weeks after a string of European Olympic committees, including Austria's, received emails containing terrorist threats against its athletes in Sochi.

Those messages were later deemed a hoax by security experts, who said such threats were common ahead of big events. Sochi organizers described them as "not real."

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