I'm Bob Doughty.
I'm Faith Lapidus with EXPLORATIONS in VOA Special English. Today we tell about
the Winter Olympic Games that open February twelfth in Vancouver, Canada.
About five thousand men and women from more than eighty
countries will compete for seventeen days at the Vancouver Olympics. They will
compete in more than eighty separate medal events in fifteen sports. The games are about sportsmanship, hard work,
and national pride. The athletes share a common goal -- to do their best and win
a gold medal.
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will be the twenty-first Winter Olympic Games. The last Winter Games were held
in two thousand six in Turin, Italy. The next Winter Olympics will be in Sochi,
Russia, in four years. But this month,
millions of people around the world will turn their attention to the games taking
place in Vancouver, British Columbia.
The city is on the western coast of Canada. It is known for its many
bike and hiking paths, forests, lakes and beautiful mountain views. Vancouver is also a busy city with interesting
cultural events, shops, restaurants and galleries. Many people spend their vacations visiting
the city. For years, Vancouver has been
rated one of the most livable places in the world. And, it has been rated one
of the most environmentally friendly cities in the world.
The Olympics events will be held at
several places in and around Vancouver. Event organizers have worked hard to
ensure that the games will not pollute the environment. For example, people are
urged to ride bicycles to the Olympic events. There are no places to park cars near the events. But all areas will have spaces to lock up
In addition, many Olympic buildings were made from
reused materials. Organizers made
efforts to avoid cutting down old-growth trees. They also made careful decisions about how
each building will be used after the Olympic Games. The event Web site describes
every Olympic building and competition area and the environmental decisions that
were made about its design.
organizers have had seven years and several billion dollars to plan for these
Winter Games. But one thing outside of their control has been the weather. Warmer than average temperatures and lack of
snow have been major concerns in the weeks leading up to the games.
The lack of snow will not be a problem for events being
held at the ski area in the city of Whistler. However, the area called Cypress
Mountain has been a problem.
have had to make huge efforts to guarantee the area is ready for six skiing and
snowboarding events. For months, machines there have been producing and storing
snow. Huge truckloads of snow have also been brought down from higher areas of
snow has been placed onto large forms made out of straw. These straw
foundations have helped reduce the amount of snow needed. Organizers in
Vancouver say the athletes will notice very little difference between a natural
ski slope and the one that has been built for the games.
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Speaking of warm weather, some of the countries sending
athletes to the Winter Games might surprise you. A few of these athletes live in countries that
rarely if ever see snow. For example, the popular bobsleigh team from the island
of Jamaica did not qualify for the Olympics four years ago. But a team will be back to compete this year.
Boit of Kenya began his athletic career as a runner. He decided to try a new
sport in the nineteen nineties. The Nike athletic shoe company gave financial
support to turn Kenyan runners into skiers. In nineteen ninety-eight, he became
the first athlete from Kenya to compete in the Winter Games. He will return
this year to compete in his fourth and final Olympics.
will be sending its largest Winter Olympics team ever to the games. It will
include ninety-one athletes, compared to seventy-six athletes four years ago.
An official from the Chinese Olympic team says the country is much weaker in
winter sports. But it still expects to match
its results from the last Winter Games. He says China is working to narrow the difference between its strength during
the Olympic Summer and Winter Games.
Olympic sports include different forms of skiing, such as cross-country,
Alpine, Nordic combined, free-style, and ski jumping. Snowboarding became an
Olympic sport in nineteen ninety-eight. The athlete's feet are attached to a
board that moves quickly on the snow. The sport combines the skills of surfing,
skateboarding and skiing.
are also three different sledding sports. These are bobsleigh, skeleton and
luge. A bobsleigh is like a little car with a rounded nose made of fiberglass.
But instead of wheels, it sits on steel runners that race along the ice.
Runners push the bobsleigh for a distance of about fifty meters.
Then they jump onto the bobsleigh and continue racing
down the track. Men compete in teams of two and four, while women only compete
in teams of two.
A skeleton is a flat kind of
sled. An athlete lies on top of it with his or her face down. Luge comes from
the French word for sled. In luge racing, the athlete lies on top of the sled
Improvements in technology have
greatly changed the equipment for these and other Winter Olympic sports. With
specially cooled tracks and racing equipment, it is not unusual for luge
athletes to reach speeds of one hundred forty kilometers an hour or more.
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of the winter sports played at the Olympics are internationally known, such as
ice hockey. Others, like curling, are less widely known. Curling is a team
sport played on ice. Two teams take turns pushing stones weighing almost twenty
kilograms towards a circular target drawn on the ice.
biathlon is another Olympic sport that is not as well known. This event
combines cross-country skiing and rifle shooting. It began as a survival
method. Northern Europeans skied to hunt for food, then later to defend their
The biathlon requires great skill to combine the
physical demands of skiing and the calm, focused attention needed for shooting
at a target.
of the most popular events at the winter Olympics is figure skating. This sport
combines the athleticism of skating with the gracefulness and creativity of
dance. There are four categories of figure skating: men's singles, women's
singles, pairs, and ice dancing.
In women's skating, several of the Olympic
favorites are the South Korean skater Kim Yu-Na, and Mao Asada and
Miki Ando of Japan. Two athletes representing the United States are Rachel
Flatt and Mirai Nagasu . In men's skating, Russia has won the
gold medal in the last four Olympics. This year's favorites include Russian Evgeni
Plushenko, Brian Joubert of France and Evan Lysacek of the United States.
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dancing is another popular event. It is
judged on a couple's skill performing steps and turns to music. Unlike the other figure skating events, there
are no overhead lifts and big jumps.
Charlie White and Meryl Davis are competing for the
United States at the Olympics for the first time. They became very popular on
the Internet for their ice dance performance set to traditional Indian music.
skating is also a popular Olympic event. Americans will be watching short track speed skater Apolo Anton Ohno. He
won five Olympic medals for the United States at the past two Winter
competition nearest to the hearts of many Canadians is ice hockey. For
generations of Canadians, ice hockey has been an important part of their
culture. Some say that for Canadians hockey is closer to a religion than a
Twelve of the best national teams in the world
will compete over twelve days. The first
men's hockey game will be between the United States and Switzerland on February
sixteenth. The National Hockey League in
the United States is again permitting its players to represent their native
countries in the Olympics. This has only been permitted for three other Olympic
For many hockey fans, the most important game
of the Olympics will be decided on the final day, February twenty-eighth. This is
when the final game of the men's hockey competition takes place. Experts say the men's hockey event will be one
of the most competitive ever. One
American hockey official said he thinks it will be the greatest hockey
competition in the history of the world.
This program was written and produced by Dana Demange.
I'm Faith Lapidus.
I'm Bob Doughty. For a link to the Vancouver Olympics Web site, go to voaspecialenglish.com. You can also comment on our programs. Join us again next week for EXPLORATIONS in
VOA Special English.