TV gold – what not to miss from Vancouver



Men's downhill: Enter the speed freaks


Provided the fog doesn't cast an embarrassing shroud over Whistler this evening, the men's downhill offers a sparkling start to proceedings.

The course is known for its speed and simplicity (we're talking comparatively here) which suits the daredevil approach of Manny Osborne-Paradis, that and his local knowledge. The Canadian is ranked third in the world behind the Swiss pair of Didier Cuche and Carlo Janka. Cuche has set the pace in training, but, as Osborne-Paradis likes to point out, the downhill is all about the day. In which case look out for the mercurial Bode Miller.

Today, 7.45pm; BBC 2

Women's Super-G: Vonn on for triple?

All being well with her wounded knee, this is the event that Lindsey Vonn will aim to complete her hat-trick of gold medals in – and in so doing allow NBC, the American rights holder, to claim justification for paying a whopping £522m to secure broadcasting rights to the Games.

Vonn, the camera's friend, has dominated the women's Super-G (a cross between slalom and downhill). She is the current world champion and is heading for a third successive World Cup title. If fit – and it remains a big if – she will be hard to stop.

Sat, 20 Feb, 18.00; BBC 2, 17.45

Biathlon 20km: Norway expects

At home, Ole Einar Bjoerndalen is known as "Der Meister", outside his homeland he is barely known at all. Describing him as a Norwegian Steve Redgrave might help: he already has five Olympic gold medals. Three more and he becomes the most decorated Winter Olympian – he is entered in five different biathlon events.

Thurs, 18 Feb, 19.00; Eurosport 21.00

Ice hockey: The host nation's hopes rest with Sid the Kid

According to one of Team GB's management, a Winter Olympics in Canada is like a football World Cup in Brazil and the iconic event of any North American Games is the ice hockey.

The gold medal match provides the traditional grand finale and Canada will be fervently hoping the men in red will be there. The hopes (and fears) of a nation rest more on this one medal than any other. They have a golden tradition, winning six of the first seven Olympic finals, but have since triumphed only in Salt Lake City in 2002. In Turin four years ago, they were left red-faced after coming a lowly seventh (their women won gold); there are amends to be made.

The eventual winners in Vancouver face a tough schedule of seven games in 12 days. The hosts' first task is to get out of their group with the last game against the US one to savour. The closing ceremony begins a matter of hours after the final and Canadian gold would ensure a joyous farewell.

If they are to win then Sidney Crosby, or Sid the Kid as he is universally known, is sure to be at the heart of it all. Crosby is only 22 but has long been tagged the 'Next One' – the moniker attached to any potential successor to the great Wayne Gretzky. Russia and Sweden, the defending champions, will threaten the hosts, but it is expectation that provides perhaps the greatest obstacle.

Men's final, 20.15, 28 Feb, TV to be confirmed

Bobsleigh: Cooke's chance

Gillian Cooke became a YouTube sensation when she bent over and split her suit moments before a race – over a million people have so far watched the clip. An Olympic gold medal-winning run with her driver Nicola Minichiello would make the Scot an even bigger star. This, says Minichiello, is the "biggest stage of all".

Thurs, 25 Feb, 02.10; TV tbc

Ski jumping: Flying Austrian

A big leap for any kind. The last time the Games were in Canada it was all about the man who still sends a shiver down the spine of the British Olympic Association, but there will be no Eddie the Eagle types here. Twenty-year-old Gregor Schlierenzauer of Austria is the man to watch.

Sat, 20 Feb, 19.30; Eurosport

Snowboarding: Tricks and thrills

The Flying Tomato looks the part – of a snowboarder that is, not an airborne piece of fruit. Shaun White, with his forest of red hair, is a weighty favourite to win a second Olympic gold to go with the 15 he has from the Winter X Games. Alongside Lindsey Vonn, White is the best known Winter Olympian in the US and he has a new trick to unveil – providing there is enough snow on Cypress Mountain – in the half-pipe. It's apparently called the Double McTwist 1260, or Tomahawk for short "after a steak I ate". White has described the manoeuvre as his "best friend and worst enemy". That may all leave the outsider slightly confused, but as a thrilling watch White and his co-competitors are not to be missed. A year ago the 23-year-old won a World Cup event on this course so he knows his way around.

Thurs, 18 Feb, 03.15; Eurosport

Curling: Britain can sweep to victory

Close to 6 million Britons crawled out of bed to watch Rhona Martin's team win gold in 2002. This year's final gets under way at a more sociable time and David Murdoch's men are tipped to provide another of this country's memorable, if quirky, Olympic triumphs.

Sat, 27 Feb, 23.00; TV tbc

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