Today is the opening ceremonies for the 2010 Olympics and there are a number of things I will be watching for during this Olympics. Here they are:
1) Canada Winning Gold: Canada has never won gold on Canadian soil. I think that it will happen in Vancouver and I do think that there is a strong chance it will happen this weekend. The men's downhill could yield a surprise gold. Robbie Dixon was 2nd in training and Manuel Osborne-Paradis was 6th.
2) Weather: I think that the media is blowing issue of snow out of proportion. It's an easy story to report on when the hills look green but if you think about it, VANOC was prepared for this and there was no reason for them to begin moving snow onto Cypress until only a few days before the training for the events to be held there (freestyle events, snowboarding) started. What I am watching for is visibility. Rain and fog and potentially even too much snow. I have skied at Whistler many times over the last 15 years and I can only remember a few times where we didn't have problems with visibility.
3) Shaun White: Perhaps one of the most electrifying athletes in the entire winter games. This U.S. snowboard halfpipe competitor has been perfecting tricks at a top secret halfpipe in Colorado only accessible using a helicopter. His event at 4pmEST on February 17th.
4) Protest Activity: Having recently moved back East from Vancouver, I can say that there was a growing anti-Olympic movement in Vancouver. Vancouver is a city with fairly extreme poverty on the lower east side. Housing is largely unaffordable in the city (it was recently found to be the most unaffordable city in Canada and 15th of the world) and so there are issues people feel need to be addressed over having the Olympics. I also know that Vancouver is a city with bad traffic and only a few key access routes... if those were to be shut down, it could be extremely difficult for people to get around the city. I have all the faith in the security team and if these games come off without a hitch, it will be a testament to their huge efforts.
5) Hockey: Both the men's and women's teams will have to play perfectly to get to the gold medal games and I have every faith they can. However I should mention that the U.S. teams will be challenging and on the men's side, watch out for the Russians, Swedes and Finns. I heard last night that six different teams have been in the men's gold medal game in the last 3 Olympics... so it's up for grabs!
Anyways, I hope everyone takes some time to enjoy the events. I will be watching the opening tonight and the downhill tomorrow for sure.
Best of luck to Ottawa's Ryan Semple who competes in the men's super-combined on the 16th!