From the drawers of the Top Secret Fyles:
The Super Bowl has passed, and its time to settle into your favorite easy-chair or couch to get ready for the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia.
North country residents should be in perfect winter mode considering the region has endured an ice storm, five lake-effect or general overall snowstorms, and stretches of bone-chilling, subzero temperatures with biting wind chills over the past eight weeks.
All events in Sochi will be contested on snow or ice, so well feel right at home for the Games.
Heres what to look for:
n Who will win the gold medal in mens hockey? Russia, Canada, Sweden, the Czech Republic and the United States have the best chance. Can Switzerland, Austria or Norway break into the semifinals?
n How will Remsen resident Erin Hamlin fare in the womens luge in her third attempt at the Olympics? The 27-year-old has had an had excellent amateur career, but can she break through on a world stage by taking a medal? The German men and women appear very strong in her sport.
n Northern New York has several Olympians from the Lake Placid/Saranac Lake region who will compete in different events in the biathlon. Will veterans Tim Burke or Lowell Bailey medal?
n How will the United States fare in womens downhill skiing without Lindsey Vonn, who is staying home because of her second knee injury in two years? Without Vonn, the Games lose a little star power and glitter.
n Bode Miller qualified for his fifth Winter Games in Alpine skiing, and at age 36, this probably will be his final Olympics. After winning a medal of each color in the 2010 Vancouver Games and later missing 20 months of competition because of a knee injury, how will the New Hampshire native fare in Sochi?
n What new routines will ace snowboarder Shaun White put into his repertoire, and is American Kelly Clark the best female snowboarder on the planet?
n Can an American win a gold medal in cross-country skiing for the first time ever? Kikkan Randall in the womens freestyle sprint might have the best chance.
n Who will pick up the slack for the Americans in short-track speedskating following the retirement of Apolo Anton Ohno, who won eight medals (two golds) over three Olympics?
n Bobsledding will be interesting to watch in Sochi because the track has three uphill portions that dont help in the speed department. This should be one of the most competitive events, with the United States, Germany, Canada, Russia, Switzerland and Latvia in the medals chase.
nWomens ski jumping will make its Olympic debut after a failed court case denied the sports entry in Vancouver in 2010.
n Lastly, and sadly, will these Olympics be interrupted by determined terrorists who want to send a worldwide message?
Times sports copy editor Richard Fyle can be reached at email@example.com