Luge athlete Mellisa Hollingsworth, shown here while on a training run at the Whistler course, has the potential to win Canada’s first Olympic gold medal on home soil. USA Luge was miffed that Canada didn't honor an unwritten reciprocity agreement under which the neighbors have given each other extra training runs since the 1980 Olympics in Lake Placid. Frank Gunn/The Canadian Press/AP/File
Skeleton racer Noelle Pikus-Pace was flying face-first toward Olympic gold in 2006 when she was severely injured by a rogue bobsled at the end of a training run. She has rebounded and will attend the 2010 Games on a sled custom built by her engineer husband, Janson. Arnd Wiegmann/Reuters
American Zach Lund is back on track for Olympic success after being kicked out of the 2006 Olympic village on doping charges. At issue was an antibalding drug that can mask steroids, which he had taken for years and declared on all his forms. He rebounded to win the overall World Cup in 2007 and is looking for more in Vancouver – albeit with a bald head. Arnd Wiegmann/Reuters
American Katie Uhlaender enters the Vancouver Olympic Games ranked sixth in the world. Many Olympic athletes live humble lives outside the Games; Uhlaender is studying science at Colorado Mountain College and would like to become a writer or producer, according to her teamusa.org web page. Eckehard Schulz/AP/File
Canadian Mellisa Hollingsworth is one of many 2010 Olympians who support Right to Play, an organization founded by Norwegian speedskater Johann Olav Koss to improve the lives of children in developing countries through sport. Arno Balzarini/Keystone/AP
Katie Uhlaender takes her second run at the 2009 women’s Skeleton World Championships in Lake Placid, N.Y., where she struggled to find her usual form just weeks after her dad had passed on. Her Olympic pursuit of success is for him, she says. Mike Groll/AP/File
Canada’s Mellisa Hollingsworth leaps to her sled at the start of the 2010 World Cup in St. Moritz, Switzerland, where she finished second. Skeleton racers have little metal spikes on the tips of their gloves, and on their shoes, to help them grip the ice at the start. Arno Balzarini/Keystone/AP
Martins Dukurs is dominating the World Cup this season, making him well-placed for a medal in Whistler, one of the fastest tracks in the world. In skeleton, athletes use only their bodies to steer the sled, whose spare shape gave the sport its name. Arnd Wiegmann/Reuters
Canadian Jeff Pain, the 2006 Olympic silver medalist, gets off to a speedy start in a recent World Cup. The start is crucial in a sport that's timed to the hundreth of a second. Arnd Wiegmann/Reuters
Michi Halilovic, a German police chief who loves sushi, springs out of the start. The skeleton was originally included in the 1928 Olympic Games but was removed from the roster of events afterwards. In 1948, it was reincorporated into the St. Moritz Olympics only to be sidelined again until the 2002 Salt Lake City Games. Arnd Wiegmann/Reuters
Today's announcement of restored diplomatic ties between Cuba and the US comes after five decades of antagonism, including the 54-year-old US trade embargo against the Communist island. The Christian Science Monitor covered the embargo from the start.
ByBertram B. Johansson, Latin America Writer
Melanie Stetson Freeman/Staff/File
Today, President Obama and Cuban President Raul Castro announced that the United States and Cuba are restoring diplomatic ties after five decades of antagonism. The US has maintained a trade embargo against Cuba since Oct. 19, 1960. Below is The Christian Science Monitor's story from that day.