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Sochi 2014

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It's coming: in 2014, the world will gather in Sochi, Russia for the XXII Winter Olympiad.  Here, Olympia keeps you updated, bringing you all the latest on the Sochi games.  Let's go!

Headlines

Ameria Has Its Day in Vancouver

 

2/18/2010 - Heading into Wednesday’s competitions, the United States had fallen behind Germany in the medal standings for the first time in Vancouver.  That all ended after a series of thrilling performances by American athletes put the US back on top.

 

It began Wednesday morning, with the much-anticipated Vancouver debut of skier Lindsey Vonn.  Vonn, who was considered a heavy favorite heading into the games, had been suffering from a shin injury sustained in practice.  But it was difficult to tell on Whistler, where she skied to a gold medal in the ladies’ downhill.  American Julia Mancuso, who won gold in Torino, also had a good day, taking silver to Vonn.

 

Next, it was Shani Davis.  The American skating star is the current record holder in 1000m, and last night he was looking to defend his gold medal in the race.  He didn’t disappoint: in a remarkable show of athletic power, he skated to an easy gold medal.  As in ladies’ downhill, another American managed to reach the podium, with Chad Hedrick taking bronze.

 

Finally, it was Shaun White.  The worldwide snowboard sensation had been preparing for these Olympic Games for some time, even devising a new move to bring home gold for the United States.  Ultimately, he didn’t need it: his performance was daring, high-flying and, as always, dominant.  White successfully defended his gold medal, with teammate Scotty Lago taking bronze.

 

The games of the XXI Winter Olympiad have only just begun, but already it has been one of the most successful winter games of all time for the US.  And with hopes riding high on further medals in skiing and speed skating, and the prospect of taking medals in figure skating and hockey as well, that’s unlikely to change.  Though the home nation has enjoyed success as well, thus far these have truly been America’s games.

 

Conditions on Whistler Continue to Hamper Alpine Events

 

2/16/2010 - First there wasn't enough snow.  Now, there's too much.  Volatile weather conditions on Whistler continue to interfere with the alpine skiing competition at the Vancouver games.

 

The conditions on Whistler have forced yet another postponement: the men's super combined scheduled for today will now take place on Sunday.

 

Weather conditions on Whistler have been fierce and unpredictable since the start of the Vancouver games.  Though this had made for amazing biathlon and cross-country competition, alpine skiing, which requires more precise conditions, has been negatively impacted.  Thus far, only one alpine event has taken place: the men's downhill, won by Swiss skier Didier Defago.

 

New Alpine Skiing Schedule Released

 

2/13/2010 - In light of weather concerns, VANOC has released a revised Alpine Skiing programme.  In this new programme, the Men’s Downhill event scheduled for Saturday has instead been rescheduled for Monday, while the ladies’ Super-Combined event will now take place on Thursday.

 

The revisions to the schedule are sure to benefit American skiing star Lindsey Vonn, who got a late start on training for the Vancouver games due to an injury suffered on a practice slalom run.

 

Sliding Course Modified

 

2/13/2010 - Amid growing concerns over the speed and safety of the Whistler sliding course, VANOC has modified the course slightly in the hopes of keeping athletes safe during competition. 

 

Among other things, the modifications include the addition of a new safety wall, and a change in starting position, with the men’s runs now beginning at the ladies’ starting point.

 

VANOC has been working to alleviate concerns over safety on the course at the Whistler sliding facility following the death of Georgian athlete Nodar Kumaritashvili during training on Friday.  The Georgian Olympic team has blamed the speed of the Whistler course for the accident.

 

Concerns Raised Over Sliding Course

 

2/13/2010 - A day after the death of Georgian luger Nodar Kumaritashvili, concerns have been raised over the state of the Whistler sliding course in Vancouver.  Amidst these concerns, many are now asking whether or not the course is safe enough for competition.

 

Concerns stem primarily from the speed of the course.  Observers have noted the average speed of athletes on the course is 90 mph, up 10 mph from Torino and Salt Lake.  Such speeds make for more challenging and entertaining competition, but may keep less experienced athletes from maintaining proper control, leading to further accidents.

 

The Georgian Olympic team and VANOC disagree on the cause of Friday’s crash.  While the Georgians believe the speed of the course makes it too dangerous for competition, VANOC disagrees, contributing the accident to athlete error.

 

Opening Ceremonies Begin with Glowing Hearts
 
2/13/2010 - Four years in the making, the opening ceremonies of the XXI Olympic Winter Games did not disappoint.  In a remarkable feat of technology, entertainment, and passion, Canada did indeed show the world what their great nation is truly capable of.
 
A day that began with tragedy, amidst the death of Georgian luger Nodar Kumaritashvili, ended in trumph, with an engrossing cultural programme intended to showcase the beauty of Canada, and the pride its citizens take in their country.  The star-studded performance featured musical acts from Canadians Nelly Furtado, Bryan Adams, and Sarah McLachlan, and narration from Canadian actor Donald Sutherland.
 
Speculation was ended when, at the final leg of the torch relay, the flame was indeed passed to Canadian hockey legend Wayne Gretsky.  Gretsky and the three other final torch bearers then took places at the four corners of an Olympic Cauldron, where they lit the flame together (this followed an uneasy pause when one of the pylons for the cauldron failed to deploy.  Nonetheless, the spectacle did not disappoint).
 
Following this lighting, Gretsky was taken by motorcade to the official Olympic Cauldron, surrounded by cheering Canadians in what will likely live on as one of the great moments in Olympic spirit.
 
On behalf of Olympia, we thank you, Vancouver, and all of Canada, for welcoming us and all the world with glowing hearts.  Let the games begin!
 
The XXI Winter Olympiad Opens Tonight
 
2/12/2010 - After four years of waiting, tonight we witness the opening ceremonies of the 2010 Olympic Winter Games in Vancouver, Canada.
 
With the big moment fast approaching, speculation in Canada is swirling around the question of who will light the Olympic cauldron.  Many expect hockey legend Wayne Gretsky to do the honors, however several other names have been mentioned.  Among others, Betty Fox, the mother of Terry Fox, is considered a candidate, and some have even suggested that a hologram of Terry Fox himself may carry the torch to the cauldron. 
 
Terry Fox, a Canadian national hero, gained notoriety in 1980 when he set out to run across Canada to rally support for cancer research.  Fox himself was suffering from cancer, but managed to run for 143 days before the spread of the disease forced him to stop. 
 
Canada hopes to make a strong impression on the world during the 17 days of the Olympic Winter Games, and that impression begins tonight.  Canadian singers Bryan Adams and Sarah McLachlan will be among those performing at the opening ceremonies, which will also feature such stunts as a ski jumper soaring through the olympic rings.
 
Cyprus Mountain Ready for 2010 Games
 
1/30/2010 - As of today, Cyprus Mountain in British Columbia is prepared for the 2010 Olympic Winter Games.
 
Cyprus will be the sight of all snowboarding and freestyle skiing events during the Vancouver Games, but concerns had been raised over unseasonably warm temperatures.  However, VANOC's contingency plans have paid off, and the moving of snow from higher elevations to the snowboard and freestyle courses was compleded on Friday.
 
The monumental undertaking has had 45 people working round the clock, using eight snowcats and two large dump trucks to move 300 truckloads of snow from the top of Mount Strachan to neighboring Mount Black, where the events will be taking place.

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The Games of the XXII Winter Olympiad: Sochi 2014

FastFacts

Host City: Sochi, Russia
 
Opening: 7 February 2010
 
Closing: 23 February 2010
 
Athletes: 5000
 
Sports: 7 (Bobsled, Luge, skating, skiing, curling, ice hockey, biathlon)
 
Slogan: "Let's Go!"

Villages and Venues
 
Sochi promises the most compact Olympic Winter Games in history, with two Olympic villages set only 48km from one another, on either end of a planned high-speed railway.  This railway will allow travel between villages in about half an hour.
 
One thing Sochi organizers have insisted on is that all venues be capable of accomodating both Olympic and Paralympic events.  Thus, great care will be taken to ensure accessability for those with disabilities.
 
The villages and venues themselves are separated into two "clusters".

Coastal Cluster
 
Situated south of Sochi in the seaside town of Adler, the Coastal Cluster will be centered on the Olympic Park.  The Olympic Park promises to be revolutionary in that all ice venues will be within short walking distance from one another, arrayed around a central plaza.  The Coastal Cluster will be capable of accomodating roughly 70,000 visitors. 

Central Stadium

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Central Stadium - Sochi

The Central Stadium will house the opening and closing ceremonies, medals ceremonies, and various entertainment and cultural events during the games.  The ambitious structure will be topped with a transluscent polycarbonate roof, giving the 40,000 occupants the feeling of being exposed with the Caucasus mountains soaring before them.
 
After the games, the Central Stadium will become the home of the Russian national soccer team, and will also be used as a venue for entertainment events.
 
Bolshoi Ice Palace

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Bolshoi Ice Palace - Sochi

Ice Hockey
 
The Bolshoi Ice Palace will serve as one of the two ice hockey venues of the 2014 games.  Built to evoke the image of a frozen drop of water, the structure will be topped with a polished silver dome.
 
Scheduled to open in 2012, the Bolshoi will seat 12,000, and will be located conveniently close to the Maly Palace, also used for ice hockey.
 
Maly Ice Palace

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Maly Ice Palace - Sochi

Ice Hockey
 
The Maly Ice Palace will serve as one of the two ice hockey venues at the 2014 games.  Smaller than the glistening Bolshoi, the Maly will house the majority of the women's ice hockey tournament.
 
Though the venue will boast a capacity of 7,000, it will be completely modular, and can be dismantled after the games and moved to other cities, becoming a mobile hockey arena.  The Maly is scheduled to open a year prior to the Bolshoi, in 2011. 
 
Sochi Olympic Skating Centre

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Sochi Olympic Skating Centre - Sochi

Figure Skating, Short Track Speed Skating

The Sochi Olympic Skating Centre will be located at the heart of the Coastal Cluster, as it is seen as the focal point of the ice venues.  Seating 12,000 spectators, the skating centre, like the Maly, will be a mobile venue; after the games, it can be dismantled and moved to other cities.  The skating centre will open in 2011.

Olympic Oval

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Olympic Oval - Sochi

Speed Skating

An Olympic Oval is an oblong-shaped facility built to host speed skating competitions.  The oval in Sochi will boast two competition tracks, a training track, and seating for 8,000 spectators.  While an Olympic Oval is typically a purpose-built structure useful for little beyond speed skating, Sochi organizers hope to use the oval both for competitions and as a venue for trade exhibitions after the games.  The Olympic Oval is set to open in 2012.

Olympic Curling Centre

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Olympic Curling Centre - Sochi

Curling
 
The Olympic Curling Centre in Sochi will be simplistic in its design, which symbolizes democracy and sets it apart from the other structures nearby.  Capable of seating 3,000 spectators, like many Sochi venues the curling centre will be a mobile venue, capable of being dismantled and transported to other cities.  It is scheduled to open in 2012.

Mountain Cluster
 
Nestled high in Krasnaya Polyana, the Mountain Cluster will host the skiing and sliding events.  Its venues will include biathlon and ski complexes, the alpine course, a sliding track, a freestyle skiing center, a ski jump complex, and a snowboard park.  It will also host its own Olympic Village, to house athletes competing in skiing and sliding sports. 
 
Rosa Khutor Alpine Resort

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Rosa Khutor Alpine Resort - Sochi

Alpine Skiing
 
The Rosa Khutor ski resort is located on Aibga Ridge, and will host the alpine events during the 2014 games.  Rosa Khutor's 9km slope will feature a course designed by Bernard Russi, a renowned ski architect from the FIS.  As such, athletes can expect world-class slopes for competition.  Rosa Khutor's alpine course will open in 2011.
 
Freestyle Skiing Centre and Snowboard Park

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Freestyle Skiing Centre and Snowboard Park - Sochi

Freestyle Skiing and Snowboard
 
Snowboard and freestyle skiing events will be held to the west of the Rosa Khutor plateau.  Organizers promise that unique snow conditions and specialized tracks for all events will make for excellent competition.  After the games, the facilities will be used for winter sports training.  The Freestyle Skiing Centre and Snowboard Park will open in 2011. 
 
Biathlon and Ski Complex
 

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Biathlon and Ski Complex - Sochi

Cross Country, Biathlon, and Nordic Combined
 
Located within 10km of Krasnaya Polyana, the Biathlon and Ski Complex will host all cross country and biathlon events.  The complex will include two stadia, each with their own start and finish zones, shooting areas, and warm-up zones, as well as combined capacity for 16,000 spectators.  The Biathlon and Ski Complex is scheduled to open in 2011.
 
Russian National Ski Jumping Centre
 

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Russian National Ski Jumping Centre - Sochi

Ski Jumping and Nordic Combined
 
The Russian National Ski Jumping Centre will be a complete ski jumping competition and training centre.  Located in the village of Esto-Sadok on the northern slope of Aibga Ridge, the facility's location was carefully chosen by international experts, on the basis of harmony with its surroundings and protection fom side winds.
 
In addition to both normal hill and large hill competition jumps, the facility will also feature three smaller training jumps, a sports hotel with accomodations for 200, a ski trail, and a training facility for young athletes.  The centre is scheduled to open in 2011.
 
Russian National Sliding Centre

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Russian National Sliding Centre - Sochi

Bobsled and Luge
 
Set to open in 2012, the Russian National Sliding Centre will feature state-of-the-art temperature control systems, ensuring optimum temperature for competition across the entire length of the track.

Athletes

Figure Skating: US Looks to End Men's Figure Skating Drought

2/16/2010
 

Despite big names and world championship success, no US man has won gold in Olympic figure skating since Brian Boitano in 1988.  Since then, the competition has been dominated by the Russians.  However, the 2010 Olympic team offers the best chance yet to recapture the gold in men’s figure skating.

 

Chief among the US medal contenders is Evan Lysacek, currently ranked second in the overall ISU world standings.  Jeremy Abbott, ranked fifth, is also expected to factor into the competition, as is Olympic veteran Johnny Wier.  Wier, a veteran of the Torino games, has enjoyed success in the world championships, though Olympic victory has eluded him.

 

However, the US men will face stiff competition.  French skater Brian Joubert, currently ranked sixth, is expected to perform well.  In Vancouver, all eyes will be on native son Patrick Chan, who hopes to bring success back to Canadian figure skating at home.  However, the toughest challenge may come from Yvgeni Plushenko, the reigning Olympic gold medalist, who is coming off of a three-and-a-half year hiatus to defend his medal.

Freestyle Skiing: For Canada, Drought is Finally Over

2/15/2010
 

It’s been a long time coming, but on Sunday, Canada finally broke what had come to feel like an Olympic curse.  With Alexandre Bilodeau’s victory in the men’s moguls, Canada finally won gold at home. 

 

Vancouver is not the first city in Canada to host the Olympic Games.  Canada hosted the 1976 summer games in Montreal and the winter games in Calgary in 1988.  Despite the great success of both games, Canada came up short, failing to win a single gold medal on home soil.  This Olympic drought prompted Canadian officials to introduce the “Own the Podium” initiative, to encourage Canadians to be more competitive in international sports competition.

 

The first major hope for Canadian gold in Vancouver was Jennifer Heil.  In the women’s moguls on Saturday, Heil was the heavy favorite, coming in on top of this season’s FIS standings.  However, it was American Hannah Kearney, seeking to redeem herself after a dismal showing in Torino, who took home the gold.

 

But Sunday night belonged to Canada.  Canadian Bilodeau had the run of his life, besting former Canadian Dale Begg-Smith, the heavy favorite now skiing for Australia.  Now, with the long drought finally over, Canadians set their sights, and hopes, on the other Canadian athletes at the games, hoping lightning will at last strike twice.

Short Track: Ohno, US Short Track Program Look Strong as Ever

2/14/2010
 

Though Apolo Ohno came into the Vancouver Games amid concerns over his age, now there can be no question: Ohno is as strong as he’s ever been.

 

In the first men’s short track event on Saturday, Ohno appeared to be in excellent shape, winning his first heat by a wide margin after hanging back for nearly the entire race.  After a hard-fought race in his second heat, Ohno managed to claim silver in the final following a collision between Korean skaters Sung and Suk. 

 

His was not the only American story in short track Saturday.  American J.R. Celski turned in an impressive performance as well, taking bronze in the final.  With Ohno unlikely to return to the track in Sochi, Celski is now viewed as his successor for the 2014 games.  However, after his impressive showing in the event he failed to finish in Torino, Ohno’s career may not be over after all.

Alpine Skiing: Vonn Will Compete in Vancouver

2/11/2010
 
American skiier Lindsey Vonn reports that she feels more optimistic about her recent shin injury after her first ski run in a week.
 
Vonn, a strong US medal contender, first stated Wednesday that she had sustained a deep-muscle bruise on her shin during a recent slalom run in Austria.  Initially, she stated that the injury would not dissuade her from participating in Vancouver.  However, at a press conference later in the day, she reported that the injury may indeed keep her out of Olympic competition.
 
That changed today, when a course survey in Vancouver indicated the injury was "making progress" and that painkillers were effective.
 
Vonn is a heavy favorite in Vancouver, and could take as many as three or four gold medals in alpine skiing, typically a weak sport for the United States.

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