Russian team blessed ahead of Vancouver Olympics

The Russian Olympic team has been blessed by the country's Orthodox Church before heading to Vancouver for the 2010 Winter Games.

The farewell ceremony for the 175-strong team of athletes has been held at Moscow's Christ the Savior Cathedral.

The service was conducted by Patriarch Kirill of Moscow and All Russia.

The list of athletes will be officially released before February 1.

Russia is expecting to take medals in 35 sporting disciplines in Vancouver, according to Sports Minister Vitaly Mutko.

The Vancouver Winter Games will last from February 12 to February 28.