Olympics Notebook: Vancouver 2010

from Left field:

Russia expects as Plushenko prepares for glory

OLYMPICS-FIGURE SKATING/Millions of Russians will be setting their alarm clocks a little earlier than usual on Friday morning.

The patriotic inhabitants of the world's largest country are desperate to see Yevgeny Plushenko bring home the cherished gold medal in the men's free skate at the Winter Olympics later today.

The flamboyant blond-haired veteran holds a narrow lead over his rivals at the competition's half way stage, and all of Russia is willing him to victory.

Plushenko's story has all the makings of a great Olympic drama. The 34-year-old retired from the sport following his landmark Olympic win in the same competition in Turin in 2006, but upset by a perceived decline in a proud Russian figure skating tradition he announced his intention to defend his title and with it Russian honour this year.

Winter Games — picture of the day

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Picture of the Day has to feature Alexandre Bilodeau, the man who wrote himself into the record books by becoming the first Canadian to win a gold medal at a home Olympics.

This picture, taken by Mark Blinch, captures him just as he launches his arms into the air in celebration at that gold medal win in the moguls freestyle.

Breaking news: Canada wins first gold

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Alexandre Bilodeau’s nerveless performance in the men’s freestyle moguls has ensured his position as a national hero, while lighting up an Olympic Games that had been in danger of falling flat.

The 22-year-old from Montreal became the first Canadian to win a gold medal at an Olympics hosted by the country — and this is their third — when he clinched victory at 1819 local time on Feb. 14, Valentine’s Day, at Cypress Mountain.

Canada can’t wait for that golden moment

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ALPINE-SKIINGCanada has a reputation as a slow starter at the Olympics, but the country may be poised to end a two-Games gold-medal drought on home soil … and it could even come on the first full day of competition.

There is so much excitement for that elusive gold medal that Canadian lugers have been offered a $1 million bonus from their title sponsor if they can earn a spot atop the podium.

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