16 Feb 2002: Mathieu Turcott #319 of Canada, Apolo Anton Ohno #369 of the USA and Hyun-Soo Ahn #348 of Korea all crash into the boards on the last lap of the men's 1000m speed skating final during the Salt Lake City Winter Olympic Games at the Salt Lake Ice Center in Salt Lake City, Utah. Steven Bradbury of Australia (not pictured) crossed the finish line first to win the gold medal. DIGITAL IMAGE. Mandatory Credit: Mike Hewitt/Getty Images
The Winter Olympics will kick-off tonight in snow-deprived Vancouver. While often seen as a less glamorous and important competition compared with the Summer Games, there are still good reasons to watch.
Here are a few, some silly, some serious:
Sherman L. McClesky, of the Bleacher Report, confesses to being a "trainwrecker" while listing his favorite events at the Winter Games. "I guess when it comes down to it, sports is only as entertaining as its elements of either danger or lunacy," he writes. "So enjoy the Winter Olympics. Just remember one thing: When a huge crash happens, or when something embarrassing goes down and you're afraid to laugh out of fear of your friends, fear not! For somewhere out there lies me, laughing on your behalf. Trust me, I have your back! "
Rachel Bachman of The Oregonian nominates American alpine skier Lindsey Vonn as the number one reason to tune in. Vonn was supposed to compete in five events, a prospect threatened by "Wednesday's shocking revelation that a right shin injury might keep her from skiing – the equivalent of swimmer Michael Phelps dropping out of the Summer Games," she writes. "The suspense could end Sunday at Vonn's first scheduled race."
Foreign Policy's Annie Lowrey looks at the "the racial and global socioeconomic implications of the oh-so-white winter games," highlighting the participation of athletes from warm weather countries. "Surely globalization, the world getting flatter, has meant that more countries have started competing in winter games, as their athletes can train abroad. I think this calls for a chart."
Newsweek's Sarah Kliff, a Canadian citizen, rails against the shutdown of Parliament in her home country where the Games are being used as justification for a two-month hiatus. "Prime Minster Steven Harper, who leads the Conservative Party, was facing a lot of difficult issues: an inquiry over maltreatment of Afghan detainees, economic woes hosting the Olympics," she writes. "So he announced in December that he was basically shutting down, or proroguing, Parliament until March 3, 2010, the day after the Olympics ends." The decision has lead to rare protests in Canada. "I’ll definitely root for Team Canada come this Friday. But in terms of ridiculous government deadlock and partisanship, unfortunately, we have already claimed the gold medal," Kliff said.