On February 12, the 21st Annual Olympic Winter Games are scheduled to open in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada. This will be the third time Canada has hosted the Olympic games, having been home to the 1976 Summer Olympics and the 1988 Winter Olympics. Over 80 nations are projected to take part in the Winter Olympics, with Japan taking part in the many of the events.
Japan has a great women's team put together for the Olympic Curling event. Curling is a game similar to shuffleboard, and takes place on an iced floor. Teams of four people take turns shoving a large stone across the ice towards targets on the floor (called the “house”). Japan's team consists of famed curlers Moe Meguro, Mari Motohashi, Mayo Yamaura, Kotomi Ishizaki, and Anna Ohmiya.
The one sport considered by many to be the main attraction of the Winter Olympics is figure skating, and Japan is well represented in that event as well. Japan has three entrants each in the men’s and women’s singles figure skating events, one in ice dancing, and another in a related event. Japan’s figure skaters are Nobunari Oda, Daisuke Takahashi, Miki Ando, Mao Asada, Akiko Suzuki, and siblings Cathy and Chris Reed. Cathy and Chris Reed are American-Japanese. Born in Kalamazoo, Michigan, to a Japanese mother and an American father, the Reeds have made a name for themselves in the Japanese figure skating scene, and look to take their success to the next level with the Winter Olympics.
Another popular event is freestyle skiing, in which Japan will be represented by Nobuyuki Nishi and Aiko Uemura.
In Nordic combined (a sport that combines cross-country skiing and ski jumping), Japan's sole representative is Norihito Kobayashi. The same goes for ski jumping, where Japan's only competitor is Noriaki Kasai.
Snowboarding, another hugely popular sporting event at the games, will see two Japanese competitors vie for the Gold-snowboarders Ryoh Aono and Tomoka Takeuchi.
Finally, in the speed skating event, Japan will be represented by Masako Hozumi, Joji Kato, Keiichiro Nagashima, Sayuri Osuga, Maki Tabata, and Sayuri Yoshii.
The Winter Olympics events will take advantage of many popular and beautiful venues in the Vancouver area, such as Cypress Mountain (home to the freestyle skiing and snowboarding events), Pacific Coliseum (home to the figure skating and short track speed skating events), Richmond Olympic Oval (home to the speed skating event), Whistler Olympic Park (home to the biathlon, cross-country skiing, Nordic combined, and ski jumping events), and many others.
At the last Winter Olympics in Turin, Italy, Japan's 110 competitors were unfortunately only able to bring home one Gold medal out of 14 events. While many of us will cheer for our home country, let us also hope that our friendly host country fares better this time around!
Vancouver is a beautiful coastal city in the lower mainland of British Columbia, Canada. It was named after Captain George Vancouver, who explored the area in 1790's.
The large metropolitan area in Western Canada is truly unique because its residents are ethnically diverse, with about 50 percent having a first language other than English. The port metro Vancouver is now the busiest and largest in Canada, as well as the fourth largest port in North America. While forestry remains its largest industry, Vancouver is well known as urban center surrounded by magnificent nature, making tourism its second largest industry. Additionally, a number of films are produced in the area, its popularity following closely behind Los Angeles and New York City to the point that it was nicknamed Hollywood North. The 2010 Winter Olympics and 2010 Winter Paralympics are scheduled to be held in Vancouver and nearby Whistler, a resort community 78 miles north of the city.
The mild climate of the city and close proximity to the Pacific ocean, various mountains, rivers, and lakes have made the area a popular destination for outdoor recreation. Vancouver has over 3,200 acres of parks, of which, Stanley Park, at 1,000 acres, is the largest. The city has several large beaches, many adjacent to one another, extending from the shoreline of Stanley Park around False Creek to the south side of English Bay, from Kitsilano to the University Endowment Lands. The 11 miles of beaches include the second and third beaches in Stanley Park, English Bay (the first beach), Sunset, Kitsilano Beach, Jericho, Locarno, Spanish Banks, Spanish Banks Extension and Spanish Banks West. There is also a freshwater beach at Trout Lake. The coastline provides for many types of water sport, and the city is a popular destination for boating enthusiasts. Within a 20 to 30-minute drive from downtown Vancouver are the north shore mountains, with three ski areas: Cypress Mountain, Grouse Mountain, and Mount Seymour. Mountain bikers have created world-renowned trails across the north shore. The Capilano River, Lynn Creek and Seymour River, also on the North Shore, provide opportunities to whitewater lovers during periods of rain and spring melt, though the canyons of those rivers are more utilized for hiking and swimming than whitewater. In 2011, Vancouver will be hosting the Grey Cup, the Canadian Football League (CFL) championship game that is awarded every year to a different city, which has a CFL team. The Vancouver Titans of the International Basketball League played their inaugural season in 2009, with home games at the Langley Event Center. Vancouver is a center for the fast-growing sport of Ultimate.
TransLink is responsible for the roads and public transportation within Metro Vancouver. It provides a bus service, including the B-Line rapid bus service, a foot passenger and bicycle ferry service (known as SeaBus), an automated rapid transit service called SkyTrain, and West Coast Express commuter rail. Vancouver's SkyTrain system is currently running on three lines, the Millennium Line, the Expo Line and the Canada Line. Fares and Passes information are available at http://www.translink.ca/
Where to Visit
Three major areas such as North Vancouver, South Vancouver and South West Vancouver divide the Vancouver tourist spots. Capilano Suspension Bridge is a must-see nature spot if you are brave enough to cross the bridge. By taking SeaBus for 10 minutes from Water Front Station, Londsdale Quay Market is available. Various educational spots can be found in the South or South West areas, for example, Science World, many museums near University of British Columbia. Downtown sites are easy to get around by walking. The main street called Robson Street or Gastown, where the steam clock is, are particularly popular for shopping and dining in downtown. By taking a bus to Granville Island, you will be treated to quite the unique location, as you can enjoy the area’s effervescent atmosphere in the neat markets. There are two buildings to visit (the Harbor Center or Empire Landmark Hotel) because of their breathtaking lookout points, which are definitely worth visiting. I personally recommend the Sky Lounge at Empire Landmark Hotel on Robson Street, especially in the evening, with fascinating zillion of city lights since the Harbor Center is closed at night.
If you have a few extra days, you should take BC ferry and visit an island, Victoria. The sunset view of small islands in the Pacific Ocean is unforgettable scenery. Oh, Canada! It is such a multi-cultural livable city.
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