Sport Alexander Zubkov’s four-man bobsleigh team celebrate gold for Russia

Mission accomplished for Putin as host nation finishes top of medals list

The athletes 'hotting-up' the Winter Olympics

American skier Lindsay Vonn continues to battle against injury but is hopeful of being able to compete in Vancouver.

Hit & Run: So long Harry, hello Percy

Wannabe wizards worried about the magical-world vacuum to be left by the demise of the Harry Potter film franchise, the final movie of which is released in two parts in November and the following July (Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, in case you ask) should take heart. There's a new adolescent with special powers and bum-fluff on his upper lip in town.

Winter Olympics in brief: Bilodeau predicts a gold rush after ending hosts' long wait

Canada's embarrassing Olympic record is over after the country celebrated a first gold won on home soil. Having gone without during the home summer Games of 1976 and winter Games of 1988, Canada was desperate to win gold this time, and the freestyle skier Alex Bilodeau obliged by claiming victory yesterday in the men's moguls final ahead of the Canadian-turned-Australian and defending champion, Dale Begg-Smith, who took silver, with the American Byron Wilson third.

James Lawton: Canada finally has its golden moment – even if America 'owns' most podiums

When it all means too much you can't perform. It's an absurd approach to sport

Dead luger told father of his fears

Kumaritashvili warned of excessive track speeds before his fatal accident

Vancouver relief as Bilodeau takes gold

Vancouver exploded in wild celebration and exhaled a huge sigh of relief on Sunday after moguls skier Alexandre Bilodeau became the first Canadian to strike Olympic gold at home.

James Lawton: Vancouver’s quick descent from high ground

Kumaritashvili had just 26 practice runs, as opposed to the 200 for the Canadians

Inside Lines: Canadians' churlishness adds to the hazards on ice wall of death

The death of the Georgian luge athlete Nodar Kumaritashvili on Friday is a sombre reminder that Winter Olympics are not just the deep-frozen frolic that many non-Alpine nations seem to think. It is also worrying that the Canadian hosts acted so inhospitably by limiting training access to the hazardous run, that will also be used for the bob skeleton events in which British hopes Shelley Rudman and Amy Williams begin their medal assault this week, during the build-up to the Games. According to the British team leader, Andy Hunt, the skeleton sliders have had only 10 per cent of the practice time the Canadians have enjoyed. As Britain and other nations have been complaining for some time about Canada's attitude, presumably designed to gain home advantage, should not the International Olympic Committee's watchdogs have intervened? If nothing else, this latest tragedy – the fifth fatality in the history of the Winter Olympics – should quell those sniggers about sliding on ice and jumping around on skis not being worthy of Olympic medals. The British Olympic Association chairman, Colin Moynihan, says Vancouver has to be a turning point for the appreciation of winter sports in this country. Let's hope it does not take the death of a young Georgian to prove him right.

Athlete's death overshadows opening of Olympics

But decision of Georgian team not to pull out gives a boost to Winter Games hit by technological breakdown and a lack of snow

Win the chance to experience the Winter Olympics in glorious HD with Freesat

The Independent has teamed up with Freesat to give readers the chance to win a fantastic prize to coincide with the excitement of the Winter Olympics.

Leading article: Frozen fun

Squeeze into the Lycra, don that helmet and sharpen those skates, for the Winter Olympics are upon us. The frozen Games never get the same attention as their summer counterpart, which is very unfair considering the range of attractions on offer, from the psychotic madness of the skeleton and the bobsleigh, to the rather more relaxed (though no less competitive) charms of curling.

The skip of Britain's curling team: All about Eve

Bagpiper, ace golfer and now – at just 19 – the skip of Britain's curling team. Eve Muirhead tells Simon Turnbull why she has gold in her sights

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.

James Lawton: Rogge must move beyond sorrow into the business of hard decision

The death of 21-year-old Georgian luger Nodar Kumaritashvili will be many things to many people, from the tragic loss of a brave young athlete to an inevitable misadventure in a sport too fast and too dangerous.

Athlete killed on Olympics course

Georgian luge competitor collides with unpadded steel column after leaving track on notorious final bend
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Homeless Veterans Christmas Appeal: ‘We give them hope. They come to us when no one else can help’

Christmas Appeal

Meet the charity giving homeless veterans hope – and who they turn to when no one else can help
Should doctors and patients learn to plan humane, happier endings rather than trying to prolong life?

Is it always right to try to prolong life?

Most of us would prefer to die in our own beds, with our families beside us. But, as a GP, Margaret McCartney sees too many end their days in a medicalised battle
Thomas Cook's outgoing boss Harriet Green got by on four hours sleep a night - is that what it takes for women to get to the top?

What does it take for women to get to the top?

Thomas Cook's outgoing boss Harriet Green got by on four hours sleep a night and told women they had to do more if they wanted to get on
Christmas jumper craze: Inside the UK factory behind this year's multicultural must-have

Knitting pretty: British Christmas Jumpers

Simmy Richman visits Jack Masters, the company behind this year's multicultural must-have
French chefs have launched a campaign to end violence in kitchens - should British restaurants follow suit?

French chefs campaign against bullying

A group of top chefs signed a manifesto against violence in kitchens following the sacking of a chef at a Paris restaurant for scalding his kitchen assistant with a white-hot spoon
Radio 4 to broadcast 10-hour War and Peace on New Year's Day as Controller warns of cuts

Just what you need on a New Year hangover...

Radio 4 to broadcast 10-hour adaptation of War and Peace on first day of 2015
Cuba set to stage its first US musical in 50 years

Cuba to stage first US musical in 50 years

Claire Allfree finds out if the new production of Rent will hit the right note in Havana
Christmas 2014: 10 best educational toys

Learn and play: 10 best educational toys

Of course you want them to have fun, but even better if they can learn at the same time
Paul Scholes column: I like Brendan Rodgers as a manager but Liverpool seem to be going backwards not forwards this season

Paul Scholes column

I like Brendan Rodgers as a manager but Liverpool seem to be going backwards not forwards this season
Lewis Moody column: Stuart Lancaster has made all the right calls – now England must deliver

Lewis Moody: Lancaster has made all the right calls – now England must deliver

So what must the red-rose do differently? They have to take the points on offer 
Cameron, Miliband and Clegg join forces for Homeless Veterans campaign

Cameron, Miliband and Clegg join forces for Homeless Veterans campaign

It's in all our interests to look after servicemen and women who fall on hard times, say party leaders
Millionaire Sol Campbell wades into wealthy backlash against Labour's mansion tax

Sol Campbell cries foul at Labour's mansion tax

The former England defender joins Myleene Klass, Griff Rhys Jones and Melvyn Bragg in criticising proposals
Nicolas Sarkozy returns: The ex-President is preparing to fight for the leadership of France's main opposition party – but will he win big enough?

Sarkozy returns

The ex-President is preparing to fight for the leadership of France's main opposition party – but will he win big enough?
Is the criticism of Ed Miliband a coded form of anti-Semitism?

Is the criticism of Miliband anti-Semitic?

Attacks on the Labour leader have coalesced around a sense that he is different, weird, a man apart. But is the criticism more sinister?
Ouija boards are the must-have gift this Christmas, fuelled by a schlock horror film

Ouija boards are the must-have festive gift

Simon Usborne explores the appeal - and mysteries - of a century-old parlour game