The 2014 Winter Olympics are scheduled to begin on February 7th 2014 in Sochi, Russia. There are currently 88 countries participating in a total of 15 sports. Sochi, an interesting mix of palm trees and snow-capped mountains, is located along the Black Sea. The coastal area, once known as a subtropical resort, has been converted into a massive Olympic park in preparation for the upcoming games.
Schedule of Activities
The opening ceremonies will begin on Friday, February 7th. The schedule of the first day, Saturday the 8th, will include the biathlon, cross country skiing, freestyle skiing, snowboarding, and speed skating. The rest of events of this year’s Winter Olympics, which will be held through Sunday, February 23, include alpine skiing, ski jumping, the luge, ice hockey, bobsleigh, curling, figure skating, short track, skeleton, and Nordic combined. The games will be divided between two primary locations. The opening ceremony and the ice events will be held in Sochi while other events, such as skiing, will take place in the Krasnaya Mountains. There is only about a 30-minutes’ drive between both locations.
There are several new events to watch that will debut this year in Sochi. In total there are 12 new winter events, one of which is the team figure skating. This involves skaters competing individually with the scores being added together. The top three teams will win medals, similar to the way gymnastics competition works during the summer Olympics. Slopestyle is an event where snowboarders and skiers do jumps, flips and other tricks while going downhill. A few other new events include, what is s called a biathlon of mixed relay and a luge team relay. Women’s ski jumping will also be debuting at the Sochi Olympics.
Athletes to Watch
There are several prominent athletes participating at the Sochi games who are hoping to bring home a medal. The following are a few that fans may want to watch.
American Ted Ligety is an alpine skier with an Olympic gold, World Cup, and World Championship wins. Ligety is going strong into the Olympics, with several wins in the recent year.
Veteran snowboarder Shaun White earned the nickname “the flying tomato” because of his long red hair. He’ll be competing for the U.S., minus the long hair this time.
Shani Davis is a veteran speed skater with gold medals in two Olympics already. He’s also won gold in the World Allround Championships, World Sprint Championships, and World Single Distance Championships.
Although Merl Davis and Charlie White have already won two World Championships in ice dancing, they will be attempting to bring home their first gold medal. It would also be the first gold ever for the United States in ice dance.
Sarah Hendrickson will be participating in ski jumping, hoping to be the first woman to win the event.
Canadian Kaillie Humphries is a major contender in the bobsled competition and has already won gold in the 2010 Olympics. While Humphries is a favorite for gold in the bobsled at Sochi, fellow Canadian Mark McMorris hopes to bring home gold in snowboarding.
Kim Yuna, a figure skater from South Korea, is a favorite to win gold at Sochi. The veteran skater has reached celebrity status in her home country where she is called the “Ice Queen”. Gracie Gold, just 18 and from the United States, is hoping to keep Yuna from capturing the top spot.
Russia hopes to garner several medals with top athletes such as Nikita Kryukov who is a champion cross country skier. Ivan Skobrev is a top contender for a Russian medal in speed skating. The Russian Skobrev is one of the most winning skaters in recent history. Albert Demchenko will be participating in his 7th Olympics while competing in the luge. Alex Ovechkin will be the prime hockey player to watch at the games. This Russian player is hoping to lead his team to its first victory since 1992.
Sara Takanashi, a seventeen-year-old from Japan, is one of the favorites to win gold in ski jumping. She has won six of the seven World Cup competitions this season.