Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Bobsled Key Athletes

According to the NBC Olympics website, the top five countries with the most gold medals in bobsled are: Switzerland, Germany, US, Italy, and Canada. Here’s a list of each country’s main contenders for the gold this year:

Sabina Hafner
Beat Hefti
Ivo Rueegg

Karl Angerer
Thomas Florschuetz
Sandra Kiriasis
Andre Lange
Cathleen Martini
Claudia Schramm

Steve Holcomb
John Napier
Shauna Rohbock
Erin Pac
Bree Schaaf
Helen Upperton


Simone Bertazzo

Kailli Humphries
Pierre Lueders
Lyndon Rush
Helen Upperton

Some athletes in particular catch the eye of the NBC Olympics website in their “What To Expect” article on bobsledding:

Andre Lange- Germany's Andre Lange, who has won two straight Olympic gold medals in four-man, is also the defending champion in two-man. In Torino, he became just the fifth driver ever to win two-man and four-man gold at the same Games and the third athlete (second driver) to win three career bobsled gold medals. In 2008, he won the overall World Cup crown for the fourth time and claimed both the two- and four-man world titles. Last season was more challenging -- Lange struggled with injuries to his crew and equipment problems -- but he still managed a silver medal showing in four-man at the 2009 World Championships. Lange now has 17 career world and Olympic medals, one more than Italian bobsled legend Eugenio Monti.

Steve Holcomb
- The U.S. men were shut out of the medals in Torino, but Steve Holcomb has since solidly established his place among the world's top drivers. He claimed the overall World Cup title in 2006-07 and at the 2009 World Championships, the Park City native drove his four-man "Night Train" sled to the first world title for the American men in half a century, beating Andre Lange by nearly a second. That win came one year after a degenerative eye condition left Holcomb legally blind and on the brink of retiring from the sport. He had collamer lenses inserted behind each iris, an experimental procedure that improved his vision from 20-500 to 20-20 in about 10 minutes, and his career was back on track.

Nicola Minichiello- Looking to expand the British bobsled program, Nicola Minichiello turned to modern means: Facebook. The two-time Olympian and former heptathlete sent friend requests to athlete acquaintances in track and field and rugby. Gillian Cooke, who had been a pole vaulter and long jumper, accepted and a few weeks later, received a message asking if she wanted a shot at being Minichiello's brakeman. By August 2008, she was testing out her abilities on a push track. And six months later, the duo was celebrating Great Britain's first world title in 44 years. Minichiello will look capitalize on her world championship momentum in Vancouver, something she was unable to accomplish last time around. Minichiello had a strong showing at the previous pre-Olympic World Championships, finishing second in 2005, but ended up ninth in Torino.

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Biathlon Key Athletes

According to the NBC Olympics website, the top five countries with the most gold medals in alpine skiing are: Germany, Soviet Union, Norway, Russia, and East Germany. By today’s political standards, some of these countries are now the same. Here’s a list of each country’s main contenders for the gold this year:


Michael Greis
Andrea Henkel
Magdalena Neuner
Kati Wilhelm


Olga Medvedtseva
Svetlana Sleptsova
Ivan Tcherezov
Olga Zaitseva


Halvard Hanevold
Emil Hegle Svendsen


Vincent Defrasna
Simon Fourcade


Carl Johan Bergman
Helena Jonsson
Anna Carin Olofsson-Zidek

Some athletes in particular catch the eye of the NBC Olympics website in their “What To Expect” article on the biathlon:

Michael Greis: Germany's Michael Greis is expected to do well again. Greis won three gold medals in Torino (15km mass start, 20km individual, 4x7.5km relay). He was a member of the bronze medal-winning relay team at the 2009 World Championships and could again win multiple individual medals in 2010.

Ole Einar Bjoerndalen: Nine-time Olympic medalist Ole Einar Bjoerndalen will look to add to his collection at age 36. Having won three individual gold medals (20km individual, 10km sprint, 12.5km pursuit) at the 2009 Worlds, he has demonstrated that he is still among the men to beat.

Kati Wilhelm: Veteran Kati Wilhelm the way for the Germans. She won two gold and two silver medals at the 2009 World Championships.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

2010 Vancouver Olympic Medal Designs Revealed

(Info taken from and

Last Thursday the gold, silver and bronze medals were displayed by British Columbia Premier Godron Campbell. The circular medals will weigh 1.1 to 1.3 pounds - the heaviest in Olympic and Paralympic history. The medals are based on two large artworks of an orca whale and raven by Canadian designer Corrine Hunt.

The medal designs took lots of collaboration, including work from Hunt, industrial designer Omer Arbel, the Royal Canadian Mint, Teck Resources Limited, and VANOC’s in-house design team.

The Paralympic medal is a squared circle shape with the raven as the motif. The black wings and profile appear in a three-part composition in the style of a totem pole. The raven was used as a symbol of transformation and healing abilities. The raven also serves as a representation of determination, creativity and wisdom.
Each medal is struck nine times to achieve the distinctive look as part of the 30-step medal fabrication process.

The Royal Canadian Mint will produce 615 Olympic and 399 Paralympic medals for the 2010 Winter Games at their headquarters in Ottawa, Ontario.
Ore for the metals came from mines in Canada, Alaska and Chile. The medals' undulating surfaces represent the sea and mountains of Canada's west coast. had even more information on these unique medals:

“They also contain a few surprises that aren't immediately apparent -- namely, they're all made at least partly from recycled circuit boards. Of course, the circuit boards have also been recycled beyond recognition, but each of the medals do apparently sport a one of a kind design. Sure, it's not enough to make a dent in the e-waste problem, but it's a heckuva way to kick start a trend.”

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Alpine Skiing Key Athletes

Want to know more about the 2010 Olympic sports and the athletes to watch out for? Well so do we! Since there are 15 sports, this will be the first of 15 blogs talking about one sport in particular and the key athletes to take note of in the games. This week we talk about alpine skiing. The top five countries with the most gold medals in alpine skiing are: Austria, Switzerland, France, United States, and Italy. Here’s a list of each country’s main contenders for the gold this year:

Benjamin Raich
Marlies Schild
Rainer Schoenfelder
Kathrin Zettel

Daniel Albrecht
Didier Cuche
Lara Gut
Carlo Janka


Jean-Baptiste Grange
Julien Lizeroux
Marie Marchand


Julia Mancuso
Ted Ligety
Lindsey Vonn
Stacey Cook
Hailey Duke
Bode Miller
Marco Sullivan
Steven Nyman
Scott Macartney
Andrew Weibrecht


Nadia Franchini

Some athletes in particular catch the eye of the NBC Olympics website in their “What To Expect”article on alpine skiing: Lindsey Vonn, Aksel Lund Scindal and Anja Paerson.

Lindsey Vonn: Four years after she suffered a frightening crash during a training run at the 2006 Torino Games, Lindsey Vonn is poised to become one of the top stories in 2010...In the years since [the accident], Vonn has become the most successful female skier in US history, winning both the World Cup overall and downhill titles for the second consecutive year following the 2008-09 season. The versatile two-time champion could contend for a medal in each of the five Olympic events she enters, though downhill and super-G are her strongest. Vonn will face a competitive international field that includes Sweden’s Anja Paerson, Austria’s Kathrin Zettel, and Germany’s Maria Riesch, one of Vonn’s best friends.

Aksel Lund Scindal: If Lindsey Vonn is to be considered the newest queen of the sport, then Norwegian should be appointed its Viking king. The two-time overall World Cup winner will be 27 years old in Vancouver, arguably the prime of a skier's career, and could leave with multiple medals. In recent years, men's skiing has lacked a global icon in the mode of Austria's Hermann Maier or Italy's Alberto Tomba. Svindal has the skill (five world medals), physical presence (6-foot-5, 210 pounds), panache (regular English Tweeter) and requisite crash account (facial fractures, missing teeth), to carry Alpine's mainstream mantle into the future. Svindal could find his first Olympic medal on the very first day of competition in the men's downhill, an event he attended as an 11-year-old at the 1994 Lillehammer Games.

Anja Paerson: As it stands now, Sweden's Anja Paerson has five career Olympic medals, more than any other active Alpine skier. Of the women, only Croatia's Janica Kostelic has more (six) in Olympic history. In her two Olympic appearances, the reigning slalom champion captured medals in four of the five disciplines (save super-G), a testament to her dynamic ability. Paerson, who's also a seven-time world champion, will be 28 in Vancouver and has stated that she plans to retire following the Games. If she manages to win two medals, a not unlikely scenario, the Swede will leave skiing as the sport's most decorated female ever.

Monday, December 7, 2009

2010 Vancouver Olympics emblem- The Inunnguaq

One exciting aspect of the unveiling of the location of the next Olmypics, is also the unveiling of that year’s emblem. For the 2010 Vancouver Winter Olympics, the Vancouver Olympic Committee (VANOC) has chosen the native American icon, inukshuk, or more specifically, the inunnguac. Here’s what Wikipedia had to say about this human-like stone formation:

An inuksuk (plural inuksuit) is a stone landmark or cairn built by humans, used by the Inuit, Inupiat, Kalaallit, Yupik, and other peoples of the Arctic region of North America. These structures are found from Alaska to Greenland.

The inuksuk may have been used for navigation, as a point of reference, a marker for hunting grounds, or as a food cache.[4] The Inupiat in northern Alaska used inuksuit to assist in the herding of caribou into contained areas for slaughter.[5]

Historically the most common type of inuksuit is a single stone positioned in an upright manner.[6] An inuksuk is often confused with an inunnguaq, a cairn representing a human figure.

The word inuksuk means "something which acts for or performs the function of a person." The word comes from the morphemes inuk ("person") and -suk ("ersatz" or "substitute").

The largest inukshuk is located in Schomberg, Ontario.

The 2010 Vancouver website goes into greater detail about the specific inunnguac used as the emblem for the 2010 games:

The Vancouver 2010 emblem is named ILANAAQ - the Inuit word for friend.

"Ilanaaq above all is a team player," said John Furlong, chief executive officer of the Vancouver 2010 Organizing Committee for the 2010 Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games (VANOC). "As VANOC relies on partnerships and a shared vision to deliver the Games, so does our emblem. Each stone relies on the other to support the whole. Together, the result is a symbol of strength, vision and teamwork that points us all in the direction of excellence and it will welcome the world to Canada in 2010." 

The emblem was chosen by an international judging panel from more than 1,600 entries from every region of Canada submitted through the Vancouver 2010 Olympic Emblem Design Competition. Rivera Design Group of Vancouver submitted the design, created by a team including company principal and creative director Elena Rivera MacGregor and designer Gonzalo Alatorre.

Unveiled during a live nation-wide television broadcast, the Vancouver 2010 emblem shows the deep connection between Canadians and their breathtaking environment. The emblem features five stone-like formations depicted in vibrant colours found in both the natural features of the Vancouver-Whistler Games host region and across Canada. Green and blues represent coastal forests, mountain ranges and spectacular islands. The red is for Canada's signature maple leaf and the gold evokes images of the brilliant sunrises that paint the Vancouver skyline and snow-capped mountain peaks.

Here’s a picture of a bid for the 2010 Vancouver Olympics. You be the judge about which one looks best!

Monday, November 30, 2009

Olympic sports that are forgotten in time

(Information taken from

Ever been curious about the origins of your hometown, or the town you currently live in? How about the city in which you will see the Olympics? As someone who knows less about the city he lives in, I think it’s fascinating to look into a town or city’s history, just to get a better perspective on it in general.

The following is a brief history of Whistler, and its rise to Olympic fame:

Whistler's history began in the early 1900s, when the only residents in the valley were a few trappers who had settled into the area via the Pemberton trail (compare that to Whistler’s current population of 10,000; 40,000 during peak months). This trail was completed in 1877 and was intended to be used for cattle-driving, however the terrain was inhospitable and most cattle were lost.

Alta Lake is the original name of Whistler. The name "Whistler" was used by settlers, because of the shrill whistle sound made by the western hoary marmots who lived among the rocks.

Word got around about the beauty of Whistler, and Alex and Myrtle Phillip were the first couple to purchase land in the glorious valley.

It was not until 50 years later that this resort was discovered as a skiing destination. Four Vancouver businessmen began the development of Whistler Mountain and it officially opened for skiers in 1966. A town site was developed in 1975 and construction began 3 years later on what was previously the area's garbage dump. Shortly after, Blackcomb Mountain opened and expanded Whistler's horizons being recognized as the top ski resort in North America. Whistler has continued to blossom since then, and has won many similar honors and awards and is still one of the world's best four-season holiday destinations.

After the two unsuccessful bids for the Winter Olympics, Whistler teamed up with Vancouver and bid again in 1998. With much success, the International Olympic Committee awarded the 2010 Winter Olympic Games to the cities of Vancouver and Whistler. The lifelong dream for the community has finally been reached.

Consistently ranked the number one mountain resort in North America, Whistler features two majestic mountains, epic skiing and snowboarding conditions, four championship golf courses, more than 200 shops, 90 restaurants and bars, accommodations galore, hiking trails, spas and arguably the best mountain bike park in the world.

Chronological Order of Whistler’s History

1877 - The Pemberton Trail is completed linking the Pemberton valley to the Pacific coast, north of Vancouver.
1900 - Trappers and prospectors settle in the area. Alta Lake is the original name of Whistler.
1910 - Myrtle and Alex Philip arrive in Vancouver from Maine . They hear about Whistler's spectacular beauty.
1911 - Myrtle and Alex take the three day journey to Whistler: a steamer ship from Vancouver to Squamish, overnight in Brackendale, and a two-day horse trek to Whistler.
1914 - Myrtle and Alex buy ten acres of land and build the Rainbow Lodge on the shores of Alta Lake .
1914 - The Great Pacific Eastern Railway (now BC Rail) is built to Alta Lake and links the valley to the outside world. Whistler becomes a base for logging and mining. Myrtle and Alex's Rainbow Lodge is the most popular resort destination west of Banff and Jasper. Way to go, Myrtle!
1950's - Other lodges open throughout the valley. The abundant fish stocks make Whistler a summer resort destination long before it is considered a winter one.
1962 -Four Vancouver businessmen envision Whistler as the site to host a future Winter Olympic Games. The bid is unsuccessful; however, the Garibaldi Lift Company is formed with Franz Wilhelmsen as president. The goal is to create a ski hill.
1964 -Whistler still has no road, electricity, or sewer systems.
1965 - Whistler Mountain finally gets the name "Garibaldi Whistler Mountain". A four person gondola, a double chairlift, two T-bars, and a day lodge are constructed.
1966 - Whistler officially opens for skiing.
1975 -Whistler becomes the first "Resort Municipality" in Canada .
1977 -The new municipality is given 53 acres of Crown land to develop a town centre.
1978 -Construction begins on the new town centre that will eventually become Whistler Village.
1980 -Blackcomb Mountain opens creating one of the largest ski complexes in North America.
1985 -Blackcomb Mountain expands its terrain and becomes North America's only "Mile High Mountain".
1992 -Snow Country Magazine votes Whistler the "Number One Ski Resort in North America" and the trend continues for almost a decade.
1998 -Whistler and Blackcomb Mountains merge under Intrawest Corporation.
2003 - The International Olympic Committee (IOC) announces Vancouver/Whistler as the Host City for the 2010 Olympic Winter and Paralympic Winter Games.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Colbert to sponsor US Speedskating Team

2nd Blog post: Colbert Speedskating

On Monday, November 2nd on Stephen Colbert announced on his show, The Colbert Report, that he will officially be sponsoring the 2009 US Speedskating team. This bold move was a financial lifeline for the speedskating team, because their largest commercial sponsor, the Dutch Bank DSB, went bankrupt and left a $300,000 hole in the team’s budget. FYI- speedskating is very popular in the Netherlands.

One might ask why other sponsors didn’t line up to support this highly medal-bearing sport for the US. One reason is that speedskating isn’t exactly an American past time, and so doesn’t attract as much supporters. And of course the slump in the economy doesn’t help this unpopular winter sport’s chances as well.

But fans of the sport shouldn’t jump for joy just yet, as Colbert won’t be handing the team a check for any set amount. Over the next few weeks, the Comedy Central show will ask viewers to donate money to the patriotic cause- something the show has pulled off successfully in the past with the Yellow Ribbon Fund. Colbert viewers raised $240,000 for the cause, which assists injured service members and their families. With the Olympics less than 100 days away and a down economy, it will definitely be interesting to see how much the Colbert Nation can help raise.

One philosophical or ethical question that some have pondered is the involvement of a comedy show with a serious, athletic event. US Speedskating executive director Bob Crowley stressed to the Colbert staff that they have “exquisite athletes who have trained their entire lives for that Olympic platform…They can’t minimize that. They get it, and they recognize that.” Short track skater Katherine Reutter reminds skeptics, “We’re Olympic athletes, and that in itself deserves respect. But we race around in little circles in full-body spandex. There’s plenty of stuff to make fun of.”

Right now the long-track team is preparing for a competition in Berlin, while the short-trackers are in Montral for a meet.