2010 Olympic Countdown

by Tim Lone/Staff Writer

On Feb. 12 the 2010 Winter Olympics will officially begin with the opening ceremonies in Vancouver, British Columbia. Athletes from all over the world will try to ski, sled or skate their way to Olympic gold.

Speed skating events will be among the first competitions in the games, and will start the day after the opening ceremony. The first speed skating event will be the 5,000-meter event on the men’s side.

Among the favorites for men’s speed skating events this year are Sven Kramer from Holland and Shani Davis from the United States. Both are decorated in their respective events. Kramer is a three-time reigning world champion in the 5,000 and 10,000-meter events. Kramer also won the silver medal in the 2006 Olympic Winter Games in Turin, Italy.

Davis won the gold in the 1,000 and the silver in the 1,500 in 2006, but his accomplishments don’t stop there. Davis is a three-time world champion in the 1,500 and is also a two-time world champion in the 1,000. Davis also owns the world record for both events. 

On the women’s side Christine Nesbitt of Canada is a favorite in the 1,000 and is ranked second in the 1,500 to fellow Canadian Kristina Groves.

Clara Hughes will also be a threat to win gold for the Canadians, as she has five Olympic medals on her resume. Hughes won gold in the 5,000 in 2006, but Martina Sablikova of Czechoslovakia is the favorite.

Switching to ice hockey, Canada and Russia will be in the spotlight on the men’s side. Canada will have a number of National Hockey League stars playing for them this year, one of them being superstar Sidney Crosby, who helped lead the Pittsburgh Penguins to a Stanley Cup title just eight months ago. Also playing for the Canadians will be goalie Marc-Andre Fleury, who also plays for the Penguins with Crosby.

Leading the way for Russia will be Alex Ovechkin, who plays in the NHL for the Washington Capitols. Ovechkin was awarded the MVP award in the NHL the past two seasons, and is on pace to score 60 goals in NHL competition this year. Also competing for team Russia will be Ilya Kovalchuk, who plays for the Atlanta Thrashers in the NHL. Kovalchuk was the number one draft pick for the Thrashers in the 2001 draft, and competed in the 2002 and 2006 Olympics for the Russians.

For the bobsled events, the Americans will be among the favorites for gold. The United States will be sending three men’s teams to competition, and sports the world’s two top-ranked four-man bobsled drivers in Steven Holcomb and John Napier.

On the women’s side for bobsled, team USA will also have a strong shot at a medal. Shauna Rohbock will help lead the way with Michelle Rzepka. Rohbock helped team USA win a silver medal in the 2006 games in the two-women sled, and also has silver and bronze medals at the World Championships in 2005 and 2007 to her credit.