By Jayme Monsanto, Senior Contributing Reporter

RIO DE JANEIRO – From February 12th to February 28th Vancouver, Canada is hosting the XXI Winter Olympics. It is the third time Canada is the site of the Olympic Games: in 1976 Montreal hosted the Summer Olympics and in 1988 Calgary received the Winter Olympics.

Isabel Clarke ripping it up on her snowboard, photo courtesy of O Globo/ Creative Commons License.
Isabel Clarke ripping it up on her snowboard, photo courtesy of O Globo/Creative Commons License.

Fifteen different disciplines comprise the Winter Olympics: alpine skiing, biathlon, bobsleigh, cross-country skiing, curling, figure skating, freestyle skiing, ice hockey, luge, Nordic combined, short track speed skating, skeleton, ski jumping, snowboarding and speed skating.

Brazil doesn’t have a strong tradition in the Winter Olympics, and has never claimed any medals in the competition. The first time the country took part in the Winter Olympics was in 1992 in Albertville, France. The Brazilian Olympic delegation is usually small, and in Vancouver 2010 it is comprised of five athletes: Isabel Clark, Jaqueline Mourão, Jhonathan Longhi, Leandro Ribela and Maya Harrisson. Mourão and Ribela are competing in cross-country skiing, while Longhi and Harrisson are competing in Alpine Skiing and Isabel Clark is competing in ladies’ snowboard cross. In 2006, Clark brought home the best result ever for a Latin American country in a Winter Olympics event: ninth place.

Three of the Brazilian athletes already competed in the first days of the Olympics. Isabel Clark fell down and was eliminated before the snowboarding quarterfinals, and ended up in nineteenth place. Jaqueline Mourão was 67th among 78 athletes in the freestyle cross country skiing event, while Leandro Ribela finished in 90th position among 95 athletes in the same discipline.

The next events with Brazilian athletes competing will be on February 26th and 27th, when Maya Harrisson and Jhonathan Longhi take part in the alpine skiing slalom event.

Brazilian Maya Harrison will be representing the Alpine Skiing contingent of the Brazilian Olympic Delegation, photo courtesy of Eurosport/Creative Commons License.
Brazilian Maya Harrison will be representing the Alpine Skiing contingent of the Brazilian Olympic Delegation, photo courtesy of Eurosport/Creative Commons License.

As of February 23rd, Germany lead the medals chart with seven golds, nine silvers and five bronze, in front of the USA, which has seven golds, eight silvers and ten bronze. Norway is in the third place, with six golds, three silvers and five bronzes.

Accident kills luge athlete

A terrible accident took the life of an Georgian athlete on February 12th, only seven hours before the Winter Olympics opening ceremony. 21-year-old Nodar Kumaritashvili slid off the track with his sled at 144 km/h when he was training for the luge competitions, and hit one of the metal bars that support the track. The athlete was taken to a hospital, but couldn’t bear the injury and died hours later.

The 2010 Winter Olympics closing ceremony will happen on Sunday, at the BC Place Stadium, in Vancouver, at 5:30PM local time. In Brazil, the spectacle will be broadcast live by the Record TV station at 12:30PM Brazil time.

In 2014 the Winter Olympics will be held at Sochi, Russia. It will be the first time Russia hosts the competition, and it will also be the first time a city with a subtropical climate is a Winter Olympics site.

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