Winter Olympics: 10 things you didn't know. . .
1 The 21st winter games take place in Vancouver and Whistler, in western Canada, on February 12 and run for 16 days. It is their second appearance in Canada, having visited Calgary in 1988.
2 Ireland first competed in the 1992 games in Albertville, France, with a four-man bobsled team and have missed just one games since, in 1994.
3 The event tends to throw up an unlikely hero every so often, with hapless British ski jumper Eddie 'The Eagle' Edwards competing in the 1988 games. Ghana's first Olympic skier Kwame Nkrumah-Acheampong, aka 'Snow Leopard' is favourite to take that mantle in Vancouver.
4 Fifteen disciplines are competed in during the games across 86 events on the snow and the ice. These range from ice hockey and curling to luge and cross-country skiing.
5 The first games took place in 1924 in Chamonix, France, and they have visited eight countries. They took place in the same year as the summer games until 1994, when the Lillehammer games interrupted the sequence.
6 The closest Ireland have come to a medal came when Clifton Hugh Lancelot de Verdon, 6th Baron of Wrottesley, finished fourth in the Men's Skeleton event in 2002, at Salt Lake City.
7 Ireland's 2010 hopefuls include the two-woman bobsled team, skeleton athlete Patrick Shannon and Alpine skier Kirsty McGarry, who will be hoping to improve on her 32nd-placed finish in Turin in 2006.
8 Eighty nations participated in the 2006 games in Turin, a massive increase over the lifespan of the event. Just 16 took part in 1924.
9 Ski cross is making its debut in Vancouver. A variation of motocross, it is a timed racing event that takes in the skills of freestyle skiing.
10 The 2010 games are being organised by Irish emigrant John Furlong who hails from Tipperary and played GAA, basketball and handball before leaving for Canada more than 30 years ago, where he became Canadian national squash champion.