Left field

The Reuters global sports blog

from Olympics Notebook: Vancouver 2010:

Rogge gives Vancouver preps seal of approval

It's Superbowl Sunday but believe it or not, not everyone is thinking Saints v Colts. With just five days to go before the start of the Winter Games in Vancouver, IOC head honcho Jacques Rogge chaired a meeting of the Executive Board this morning and we caught up with him -- briefly -- for his view of how things are shaping up.

Click the video above to hear the IOC chief's view. As you might expect, he sounds pretty happy...

Economic model sees Winter Olympics gold for Canada

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Canada will take home the gold at the Winter Games in Vancouver next month if one economist is to be believed.
    
Colorado College economic professor Daniel K.N. Johnson has the host country topping the medal charts with 27, including 5 golds, beating the United States and Norway’s overall totals by one.
    
Far from weighing which athletes are the favorite, Johnson’s model considers a country’s per-capita income, population, climate, political structure and the home field advantage. The last factor works heavily in Canada’s favor this year, warming the Canadian-born economist’s heart.
    
“We all subconsciously know that small, poor, warm nations are at a disadvantage when it comes to the Winter Games,” Johnson said in a statement. “Our model quantifies those effects, so that each nation can celebrate victory if they exceed the model’s predictions. 
    
“For a small nation, winning three medals is an amazing accomplishment,” he added. “For the U.S. or Germany or Russia, it’s appropriate to expect a lot more.”
    
So what’s the track record for his model? Johnson and a colleague first constructed it before the 2000 Summer Games in Sydney, Australia. Since then, he said the model has an average correlation of 94 percent with overall medal counts and 87 percent for gold medals specifically.
    
For instance, the model suggested the United States would win 103 medals, including 33 golds, in the 2008 Summer Games in Beijing. The U.S. finished with 110 and 36. For the 2006 Winter Games in Torino, the model forecast Germany would top the medal count at 28 and it indeed finished first with 29 medals.
    
Canada won’t win all the glory this year, however, as Johnson, who teaches the economics of technological change, has Russia winning the most gold medals with 8, one ahead of Germany.

PHOTO: The Olympic rings are framed by a Canadian flag in Vancouver, Jan 14, 2010. REUTERS/Andy Clark

Sportswrap fashion special

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It’s a fashion special this week, and no, we’re not talking about Owen’s Gene Hunt, Life on Mars, 1970s suit selection.

Click the headline, press play and join us for an intimate sale of Italian jewellry, a rustle through the racks at Germany’s most exclusive clothes shop and a little spice out on the ice.

Third time lucky for Pyeongchang?

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pyeongchangWith the race for the 2018 winter Games now officially underway, and with the surprise choice of Rio de Janeiro for 2016 fresh in the mind, bid cities will be asking themselves whether paying your Olympic dues is the key factor in getting the Games.

If so, Pyeongchang will have the advantage in the race with Munich and France’s Annecy, with a decision set for 2011.

Who will be the new Captain Canada?

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hockeyIt’s hard to predict who will become Captain Canada, when Canada hasn’t even picked a team.But who will lead Canada’s men’s hockey team into battle at the 2010 Vancouver Olympics will spark more debate than who will be the hockey mad country’s next Prime Minister.

With 46 of Canada’s best taking part in last week’s national team orientation camp you could not swing a hockey stick without hitting a worthy candidate.

Snow leopards and the art of Olympic environmental diplomacy

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There is an art in dealing with environmental issues when preparing to host Olympic Games.

Athens for example, while preparing to host the 2004 Olympics, decided to construct the rowing venue inside a protected nature reserve and just a few hundred metres from the historic site of the ancient battle of Marathon. Environmental groups were up in arms for years before organisers said while they would build the venue there they would also save a rare fish (which looked more like a frog) living in the tiny creeks of the nature reserve. The rowing centre was built and after the Games it was never used again because of environmental restrictions.

When fame just melts away…

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Every morning Enrico Fabris leaves his house in the mountains for an 80-km bike ride. As a double Olympic champion in speedskating, he would rather be training on the ice for the Vancouver Games but Italy can offer him no indoor facilities.

Three years after Italy held the Winter Games in Turin, where the policeman became the host country’s most successful athlete at one Olympics with two golds and a bronze, Fabris is disappointed that nothing has improved for speedskating.

Ice cold in Heilongjiang

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Last week I went up to Harbin to check out the Winter University Games, which the city is hoping will act as a springboard to a bid for the 2018 Winter Olympics.

It was pretty chilly at the wonderfully kitsch Ice and Snow Festival, highlights of which you can see above, but up in the mountains the Alpine skiiers were taping up their faces to protect themselves from a wind chill factor of minus 30 degrees Celcius. 

Alpine skiing takes on those pesky newcomers

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skiingArguably the most popular winter sport, alpine skiing has been threatened in recent years by hipper, younger disciplines like snowboarding, moguls, half-pipe or ski-cross, which have all made it into the Olympic programme.

With that in mind, the world championships in Val d’Isere may have given new ideas to the alpine ski chiefs to boost and rejuvenate their sport.

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