Sport Elise Christie of Great Britain (centre) competes in an ISU speed skating event

Training against their male peers has given Britain’s female contingent an extra edge going into Sochi – raising hopes of the team’s best return since 1936

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

Winter Olympics 2014: Team GB announce squad of 56 athletes who will attempt to make it most successful ever games

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

Snow forecast is looking good for Sochi

Ski news: Snow forecast is looking good for Sochi

The number of Brits planning to go to Sochi in Russia for the Winter Olympics in three weeks' time will be minimal. Apart from the usual Russian visa requirements, flights are limited, a special "spectator pass" is required in a bid to combat security threats and prices for accommodation and the top events are very expensive.

VIDEO: Surfer takes on huge waves amid 'The Black Swell' sweeping over the Atlantic

'It's as dangerous as it gets' explains big wave rider

Large waves break along the coast at Porthleven, Cornwall where a 26-year-old man went missing on New Year's Eve.

New Year 2014: Two people feared drowned in Devon and Cornwall

A man and a woman died in two separate incidents on New Year's Eve

Tom Hodgkinson: 'I never learnt to 'ollie', but my son sure as hell will'

It's often said that those who have failed in adult life look to their children to succeed. They become pushy parents and live vicariously through their children's achievements. This is now happening to me. But I'm not hoping that my children will become lawyers or doctors or hedge-fund managers. I'm hoping that they'll be good at skateboarding.

Britain’s Zoe Gillings was eighth in the snowboard cross at the 2010 Vancouver Olympics, and has high hopes of doing better than that in Sochi in 2014

Sochi 2014 Winter Olympics: Zoe Gillings is a hopeful jump ahead

British winter sport is no longer a joke. Robin Scott-Elliot meets a genuine medal prospect for Sochi, where no competitor will be better prepared

A statue of surfing legend Eddie Aikau, Honolulu

Sporting Heroes: Eddie Aikau, the bravest surfer of all

On the Hawaiian island of Oahu, it’s not the widely known sporting icons who are the most revered, but surfer Eddie Aikau.

Invensys's 194-year history encompasses BTR – the British Tyre & Rubber Company

Last stand can't stop Invensys going French

Mark Leftly sees the British technology company's ageing investors fail to prevent its sale to Schneider Electric

Coastal vote: Noosa Heads in Queensland

My life in travel: Mark Webber

'I remember long days on the beach, with seafood, surf and family time'

Book review: The Interestings, By Meg Wolitzer

A summer-camp alliance sets the course for lives that intersect across decades of change

A wipeout as Billabong dives deep into red

The value of the Billabong brand has been wiped out after the surfwear group posted an annual loss of nearly A$860m (£499m) after hefty writedowns.

Focus turns to 'wingsuiting' after death of Olympic stuntman Mark Sutton

Wingsuits allow the wearer to both fall downwards and move across the sky at speeds up to 226mph

Pilots gather for freedom to fly in China's forbidden skies

Restrictions ban private aircraft owners from almost all of China’s airspace. But Nuomin He, one of the country’s estimated 2,000 private aircraft owners, is one of the few who grouped together for the Air Nadaam festival in Hexigten, Inner Mongolia – the first event of its kind – seeking leniency for aviation enthusiasts.

Skater protests force review of Southbank development plans

The Southbank Centre has been forced to review plans for a £120m redevelopment of its site, following a campaign orchestrated by London’s skateboarders to save their “spiritual home”.

The Long Live South Bank campaign has garnered 58,000 signatures for a petition calling for the skate park to be saved

National Theatre and English Heritage unite to oppose redevelopment of London's Southbank Centre

The skateboarding community, National Theatre, and English Heritage groups have come together to put a spanner in the works of a planned redevelopment of the area

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Day In a Page

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
A Christmas without hope: Fears grow in Gaza that the conflict with Israel will soon reignite

Christmas without hope

Gaza fears grow that conflict with Israel will soon reignite
After 150 years, you can finally visit the grisliest museum in the country

The 'Black Museum'

After 150 years, you can finally visit Britain's grisliest museum
No ho-ho-hos with Nick Frost's badass Santa

No ho-ho-hos with Nick Frost's badass Santa

Doctor Who Christmas Special TV review
Chilly Christmas: Swimmers take festive dip for charity

Chilly Christmas

Swimmers dive into freezing British waters for charity
Veterans' hostel 'overwhelmed by kindness' for festive dinner

Homeless Veterans appeal

In 2010, Sgt Gary Jamieson stepped on an IED in Afghanistan and lost his legs and an arm. He reveals what, and who, helped him to make a remarkable recovery
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