by Quinny McKean
The upcoming 2010 Winter Olympics will be hosted in Vancouver, Canada. Held in February from the 12th to the 28th, it will be the 21st winter Olympic Games. There are 86 different athletic events, all of which fall under three categories: ice sports, alpine, and nordic. The most anticipated and popular events are ice hockey, snowboarding, and speed skating. These events capture excitement and frequent outstanding performances.
Ice hockey has been part of the winter Olympics tradition for decades. However a major change was put into effect in 1998. This was the first year NHL players were allowed to participate in the games, which enhanced the game’s overall performance by opening it to the best players in the world. In 2010, twelve countries will be represented in the ice hockey event: Canada, the United States, Switzerland, Norway, Sweden, Russia, Slovokia, Latvia, Czech Republic, Belarus, Finland and Germany. Sweden took the gold medal in the previous 2006 games, and is definitely in the running to repeat. Swedish goaltender, Henrik Lundqvist, is currently on the New York Rangers, and is one of the top goalies in the NHL.
The United States experienced its “Miracle on Ice” in 1980 and has an equally strong chance to medal this Olympic Games. Canada has the most NHL participants, including Martin Brodeur and Dany Heatley, who could lead the team to victory. Considered by many the most exciting event to follow, the tournament of competition will continue throughout the games.
Snowboarding is another highly anticipated event, popularized by young riders such Shaun White of the United States and Gian Simmen of Switzerland. The parallel giant slalom, halfpipe, and snowboard cross comprise the three snowboarding events of the Games. White won the gold for the halfpipe competition in 2006. Simmen was the halfpipe winner in 1998 in Nagano, but hasn’t returned to the podium in the last two games. Snowboarding is a grueling event because it consists of three categories, all with different objectives. The halfpipe challenge revolves around style and skill, parallel giant slalom is geared toward speed, and cross requires strength and endurance. These events will take place at Cypress Mountain.
Speed skating is an extremely exciting event that always draws a great deal of attention. The United States’ Apolo Anton Ohno is a five-time medal winner. He has won the gold medal twice, both in 2006 at Torino. The speed skating competitions consists of a 500, 1,000, 1,500, 5,000, and 10,000 meter races. Ohno took the gold in the 500 and 1,000 meter events in the 2006 winter games. Both men and women compete in this event, and in Torino, most medals have been won by the Netherlands.
Last Winter Olympics, the US placed 2nd in total medals overall with 25, four behind Germany. It will be an exciting and unforgettable experience to see these athletes compete, and hopefully they will perform better than in previous games. However,the Olympic Games is not just about competition; it gives the world an opportunity to unite as athletes, teams, countries, families, and spectators to demonstrate their pride in their countries, as well as to acknowledge the accomplishments of others. Let us hope that this year is no different.
Don’t miss the opening ceremony on February 12th! Go to: http://www.vancouver2010.com for more information.