Let the Games Begin!

This year's Winter Olympics are sure to be fast-paced and exciting. How much do you know about the quest for the gold in Salt Lake City?

By FamilyTime


For most of the month of February, the world's best Alpine athletes and skaters will compete for the gold at the Olympic Winter Games. Hosted by the United States for the first time since 1980, when they were held in Lake Placid, New York, this year's games in Salt Lake City, Utah.

The Utah Rockies boast some of the best powder in the world. This makes ski vacationers happy and thrills world-class athletes.

Salt Lake City has built state-of-the art ice rinks, bobsled, skeleton, and luge runs, as well as other facilities to insure that these are the most exhilarating games yet!

Olympic Facts and Feats
FamilyTime has put together a group of eclectic fun facts about this year's games. Did you know…?

Jonny Mosely, a U.S. freestyle skier, won a gold medal in the sport in Nagano, Japan, four years ago. This year, he has included a daring new move called the Dinner Roll in his routine.

Sting will participate in the opening ceremony for the games on February 8. He will share the stage with other performers including the Dixie Chicks, Rita Coolidge, LeAnn Rimes, cellist Yo-Yo Ma, and the Mormon Tabernacle Choir.

Jacques Rogge, a surgeon from Belgium, is the president of the International Olympic Committee. He has attended the games 14 times, either as a competitor (he's a sailor) or administrator.

Finland's ice hockey team named Niklas Hagman to its roster. Hagman's father, Matti, was also an Olympic hockey player. When he's not competing for his homeland, Niklas plays for the Florida Panthers professional ice hockey team.

Most experts agree: Yelena Berezhnaya and Anton Sikharulidze are Russia's best hope for Olympic gold in pairs figure skating.

The sport of skeleton, last included at the Olympics in 1948, is making a comeback in 2002. Similar to luge, in this sport, the athlete steers a sled headfirst down an icy, curved course. Both men and women will compete.

Bobsledding was an original Olympic Winter Games sport in 1924. This is the first year women will compete with their own teams.

Daredevil aerialist Jacqui Cooper is one of Austria's most prized athletes. She won World Cup aerials in 1999, 2000, and 2001. She is going for gold this year - despite her disappointing 23rd place finish in Nagano four years ago.

Snowboarding was introduced to the Games in 1998. This year, the U.S. team has 14 members, six of whom competed in Nagano. The oldest member of the team is 37-year old Sondra Van Ert, a member of the 1998 team, and a parallel giant slalom rider. The youngest is 19-year old Danny Kass, who participates in the halfpipe.

The men's downhill course at Snowbasin has one of the steepest starting pitches in the world. The 70 percent pitch will help competitors reach speeds of 85 mph. The course has been dubbed Grizzly.

American Michele Kwan is hoping to win gold this year in women's figure skating, after taking home silver in 1998. Other American women to watch are Sarah Hughes and Sasha Cohen; other top women skaters include Irina Slutskava and Maria Butvrskava, both from Russia.

Let the games begin!