Last Friday was a day that Canadians had been working toward for years. The 2010 Winter Olympic Games began with ceremonies and the lighting of the Olympic flame. Millions of TV viewers around the world watched the colorful opening ceremonies at BC Place Stadium in Vancouver, Canada.
The World Stage
First, many of the 5,500 athletes, coaches and officials from the 82 countries taking part in the Games marched into the stadium during the Parade of Nations. Wearing colorful uniforms representing their countries, the athletes waved at the crowd and took pictures of the fans taking pictures of them! Then a show honoring the native people of Canada and tracing the nation's history began. It featured special effects, singers, dancers and acrobats.
Not everything went smoothly, however. A luger from the Republic of Georgia was killed earlier in the day while practicing for his event. All the athletes paid tribute to him.
They Got Gold!
What are some of the highlights so far? The Chinese took first and second place in the pairs figure-skating event. The Russians, who had held the gold medal for 46 years, didn't place. Canada's Alexandre Bilodeau took the gold in the men's freestyle mogul. It was the first time that a Canadian had won a gold medal in a Winter Olympics that took place on home turf.
U.S. mogul skier Hannah Kearney earned the first gold medal for the U.S. And Apolo Ohno took silver in a short-track speed skating event. He now has a total of six Olympic medals. If he wins one more, he will break the U.S. Winter Olympic record for the most medals won. Will he do it? Stay tuned as Ohno competes in more races.
TIME For Kids is lucky enough to have Kid Reporter Charlotte Massey at the Olympics. She filed this insiders' report from the Olympic Village in Whistler, site of many events.
Inside the Olympic Village
U.S. cross-country skier Torin Koos gave TIME For Kids a behind-the-scenes tour of the Olympic Village in Whistler, Canada
By TFK Kid Reporter Charlotte Massey
Torin Koos, an Olympic cross-country skier from my hometown of Leavenworth, Washington, invited my dad and me to check out the Olympic Village in Whistler, Canada. Whistler is the temporary home of nearly 3,000 skiers, lugers, bobsledders and other winter athletes from around the world. (Athletes competing in sports including speed skating and ice hockey live in the Olympic Village in Vancouver.)
After a long drive, many bus rides, and a thorough security check, my dad and I finally arrived at the entrance to the village where Koos met us. He showed us around the entire village, and introduced us to some amazing athletes. Our first stop was the movie room, where athletes can relax on neon yellow, green and orange beanbag chairs and watch a selection of hundreds of DVDs. Of course, they can also watch the Olympics on TV!
The next stop was Koos's room, which he shares with U.S. cross-country skier Simi Hamilton. The rooms are simple. There are two twin beds, a nightstand and a TV on which athletes can watch the raw feeds from every Olympic event, live and without advertisements. "We spend most of our time crashed out in our rooms, watching our friends compete," Koos told me.
In a small lounge near the athletes' bedrooms, we came across luge partners Christian Niccum and Dan Joye. They sat on a couch watching a luge event on TV. They talked to me about how important it is to choose your sport at a young age so that you can train your reflexes. The pair would be competing in the luge in a few hours, so we wished them luck.
Olympic Game Room
Next, we checked out the game room, where athletes can play video games, including "Dance, Dance Revolution." I challenged Koos to a game, and he accepted. Although Koos is a lot faster and stronger than I am, I still managed to beat him!
At least 10 other athletes were playing games when I visited. One athlete was playing a guitar and others played video games. I guess even the best athletes in the world need time to play! Koos told me that he often sees the biathlon racers playing the sharp-shooter video games. The biathlon is a cross-country ski race in which athletes must ski and then shoot at targets. The video game is good practice for them.
After the game room, we checked out the dining hall. It is open for athletes 24 hours per day, seven days per week. Athletes can eat at McDonald's for free. "I go there to get my decaf coffee," Koos told me.
Finally, we stopped at the souvenir shop, which is just outside the village. The shelves were packed with Olympic T-shirts, key chains, backpacks and posters of Olympic athletes.
Meet and Greet
The most exciting part of the Olympic village was meeting the athletes. We said hello in the hall to biathlon athlete Tim Burke. My dad held the door for a female bobsledder. We also ran into cross-country skier, Kikkan Randall. In December 2007, Randall became the first American woman to win a cross-country World Cup title. She said she was resting up before her big race on Wednesday, February 17. That's the same day that Koos will race.
Finally, it was time to say goodbye to Koos and the Olympic Village. My dad and I have tickets to watch Koos compete in the cross-country event on Wednesday. We wished him good luck. We'd be cheering Koos on at the ski trails soon enough.