Sport Lizzy Yarnold is among the brightest hopes for Team GB in Sochi

A minimum target of three medals has been set - with as many as seven a possibility

Ray Mears: 'It's that bloke who lives in the woods'

The Surrey schoolboy who preferred sleeping out of doors has become television's favourite survivalist. But he's not protective of his imitators. Emily Dugan meets Ray Mears

Dom Joly: Let's bring snowballing in from cold

Weird World of Sport: It could be like javelin but ... with snowballs

48 Hours In: Vancouver

Summer is the ideal time to appreciate the natural good looks and vibrant culture of British Columbia's biggest city

Toddler survives floating eight miles

The three-year-old rode his toy truck into a Canadian river - and wanted to go back after he was rescued.

Serial killer farmer who butchered women and fed them to pigs loses appeal

The British Columbia Court of Appeal yesterday rejected the appeal of a farmer convicted of butchering six women and feeding them to his pigs.

Best for powder hounds: British Columbia

From high-level trekking in Morocco's Atlas Mountains to rubbing shoulders with A-listers on Hollywood Boulevard, and from rural retreats off Tuscany's beaten track to jet-set hang outs for Moscow's super-rich, our writers have been to the ends of the earth to find a world of inspiration

Leading article: White stuff

Ben Jonson was a fan: "O so white! O so soft! O so sweet is she!" Carl Reiner is less impressed: "An unnecessary freezing of water." But whatever your view on the aesthetic merits of the white stuff, there can be no denying that we have had rather of a lot of it over the past two days. Snow, that is.

Dozens rescued as ski tower collapses

More than 50 people were rescued from about 30 gondolas after a tower supporting the lift cables partially collapsed at Canada's Whistler ski resort.

Trail Of The Unexpected: Two peaks united at Whistler

It's Thursday morning in Whistler and I'm living the dream. Just for once, it's got nothing to do with "epic landscape", "bucketloads of powder" (there is none), or any of the other excitable hyperbole that normally gets spouted in relation to Britain's favourite Canadian ski resort. All I've done is get on a cable car and cross from one mountain to another.

Ski secrets: hidden gems in British Columbia

With a helpful guide to lead the way, Roger Bray enjoys the secret slopes of British Columbia

Storyville: Tales of the unexpected

BBC4's Storyville is everything good documentary should be – fascinating, unpredictable, and truly eye-opening. As the new series gets under way, Sophie Morris looks at the highlights of the winter schedule

Last Night's Television: Who Do You Think You Are?, BBC1<br />Hole In The Wall, iPlayer<br />Greg Dyke on NYE Bevan, BBC4

I love iPlayer. I was having a little difficulty mustering interest in Jodie Kidd's ancestry, the subject of this week's Who Do You Think You Are? So I stuck it on pause and decided to catch up with Hole in the Wall instead, the BBC's new Saturday-tea-time game show, which began last weekend, but got nudged below the radar by Merlin. And, frankly, I'm very grateful to the BBC for preserving the evidence of its own inexplicable folly in this readily accessible form. I wouldn't have missed it for the world. A few television programmes are excellent, a larger number are good, and the vast majority are mediocre to poor. But it's only a few that qualify as memorably atrocious; programmes so cheesy and bereft of virtue that they will return through the ages as a regurgitated belch of "what were they thinking?"

<a href="http://blogs.independent.co.uk/independent/a_nice_green_leaf/" target="_blank">A Nice Green Leaf: Oral pleasure, bat stylie</a>

As I said yesterday I have got a slight obsession with University of British Columbia's Botany Photo of the Day.

The Wire, FX<br/>Burn Up, BBC2<br/>John Barrowman: the Making of Me, BBC1

Most of the hype surrounding 'The Wire' is justified. Shame the same can't be said for the BBC's attempt at an eco-thriller
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Independent Travel
Burgundy, the River Rhone & Provence – Five-star MS Swiss Corona 7 nights from £999pp
Lake Como St Moritz & the Bernina Express 7 nights from £809pp
Vietnam
Lake Maggiore, Orta & the Matterhorn 7 nights from £939pp
South Africa
Spain
Prices correct as of 19 December 2014
Isis in Iraq: Yazidi girls killing themselves to escape rape and imprisonment by militants

'Jilan killed herself in the bathroom. She cut her wrists and hanged herself'

Yazidi girls killing themselves to escape rape and imprisonment
Ed Balls interview: 'If I think about the deficit when I'm playing the piano, it all goes wrong'

Ed Balls interview

'If I think about the deficit when I'm playing the piano, it all goes wrong'
He's behind you, dude!

US stars in UK panto

From David Hasselhoff to Jerry Hall
Grace Dent's Christmas Quiz: What are you – a festive curmudgeon or top of the tree?

Grace Dent's Christmas Quiz

What are you – a festive curmudgeon or top of the tree?
Nasa planning to build cloud cities in airships above Venus

Nasa planning to build cloud cities in airships above Venus

Planet’s surface is inhospitable to humans but 30 miles above it is almost perfect
Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history - clocks, rifles, frogmen’s uniforms and colonial helmets

Clocks, rifles, swords, frogmen’s uniforms

Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history
Return to Gaza: Four months on, the wounds left by Israel's bombardment have not yet healed

Four months after the bombardment, Gaza’s wounds are yet to heal

Kim Sengupta is reunited with a man whose plight mirrors the suffering of the Palestinian people
Gastric surgery: Is it really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

Is gastric surgery really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

Critics argue that it’s crazy to operate on healthy people just to stop them eating
Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction Part 2 - now LIVE

Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction

Bid on original art, or trips of a lifetime to Africa or the 'Corrie' set, and help Homeless Veterans
Pantomime rings the changes to welcome autistic theatre-goers

Autism-friendly theatre

Pantomime leads the pack in quest to welcome all
The week Hollywood got scared and had to grow up a bit

The week Hollywood got scared and had to grow up a bit

Sony suffered a chorus of disapproval after it withdrew 'The Interview', but it's not too late for it to take a stand, says Joan Smith
From Widow Twankey to Mother Goose, how do the men who play panto dames get themselves ready for the performance of a lifetime?

Panto dames: before and after

From Widow Twankey to Mother Goose, how do the men who play panto dames get themselves ready for the performance of a lifetime?
Thirties murder mystery novel is surprise runaway Christmas hit

Thirties murder mystery novel is surprise runaway Christmas hit

Booksellers say readers are turning away from dark modern thrillers and back to the golden age of crime writing
Anne-Marie Huby: 'Charities deserve the best,' says founder of JustGiving

Anne-Marie Huby: 'Charities deserve the best'

Ten million of us have used the JustGiving website to donate to good causes. Its co-founder says that being dynamic is as important as being kind
The botanist who hunts for giant trees at Kew Gardens

The man who hunts giants

A Kew Gardens botanist has found 25 new large tree species - and he's sure there are more out there