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Advances and Setbacks for the Winter Olympics

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Although Florida has not been affected by the winter freeze, you can still experience some post-holiday winter cheer with the upcoming 2014 Olympic Winter Games, more casually known as the Winter Olympics, in Sochi, Russia. The excitement is rising with less than three weeks until the Opening Ceremony, and the athletic performances that will follow will be thrilling to say the least.

One of the most exciting things about the 2014 Winter Olympics is the addition of twelve new winter sports events. The events that are making their debut consist of three mixed events, four men’s events and five women’s events. They are as follows: Biathlon mixed relay (mixed), figure skating team event (mixed), luge team relay (mixed), ski halfpipe (men’s and women’s), ski slopestyle (men’s and women’s), snowboard slopestyle (men’s and women’s), snowboard parallel slalom (men’s and women’s), and women’s ski jumping (women’s). Other events that are typically on the program include, but are not limited to, alpine skiing, bobsleigh, curling, figure skating, ice hockey, and skeleton.

One of the notable things about the addition of the new events is the inclusion of women’s ski jumping, an event that previously restricted participation to men only. Female ski jumpers have petitioned for over a decade to join the Winter Olympics, but have been consistently denied by the International Olympics Committee (IOC). Ski jumping was the only event to remain men-only, despite the fact that the IOC declared that all future Olympic sports must be open to both genders in 1991.

Gender issues aside, the Sochi Winter Olympics has made other headlines in the past few months, especially in regards to Russia’s ban on the propaganda of homosexuality and pedophilia.

Russian President Vladimir Putin stated, “We do not have a ban on non-traditional sexual relationships. We have a ban on the propaganda of homosexuality and pedophilia… These are absolutely different things – a ban on something or a ban on the propaganda of that thing.”

Putin’s comments were controversial because he has not-so-subtley grouped homosexuality and pedophilia into the same category. These, and similar comments, have fuelled the gay rights debate in Russia, and caused uproar in the media and amongst leaders of other countries, some who have announced that they will not be attending some or all of the events.

NBC has listed numerous U.S athletes to watch out for, some who have previously won Olympic medals and others who are making their first Olympic appearances. Keep an eye out for women’s hockey players Julie Chu and Amanda Kessel, snowboarders Kelly Clark, Seth Wescott, and Shaun White, and bobsledder Steven Holcomb. Of course all athletes who are on Team U.S.A deserve attention and credit for their efforts and talents.

If you have access to a television, the Olympics will be aired on NBC Sports Network, MSNBC, CNBC, and Bravo. The events will also be streamed live on Tune into the Opening Ceremony of the XXII Olympic Winter Games 2014 on Friday, February 7. NBC stated that it will not be live-streaming the Opening Ceremony, and it will be broadcasted on February 7 at 7:30pm EST. Let the games begin!

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