The Richmond Oval in British Columbia will hold 8,000 spectators at the speed skating events during the 2010 Winter Olympic Games. Darryl Dyck/The Canadian Press/AP/File
Canada's Cindy Klassen poses at the 2006 Games with her five Olympic medals for speed skating – more than one-fifth of Canada's total medal haul of 24, its best-ever showing. Now, after investing more than $110 million in its Own The Podium program, Canada believes it has a chance to win the overall medal count when the competition ends Feb. 28. Matt Dunham/AP/File
US short track sensation Apolo Anton Ohno (l.) and Anthony Lobello Jr. trail J.R. Celski during a 1000-meter final event at the US Nationals in Marquette, Mich. Celski and Ohno lead a stacked US men’s Olympic short-track team. Carlos Osorio/AP/File
Canada's Christine Nesbitt competes in the women's 500-meter race at the World Cup Speed Skating competition at the Utah Olympic Oval in Kearns, Utah. Nesbitt’s strongest competitor in the upcoming Olympic Games will likely be Martina Sablikova, of the Czech Republic. Colin E Braley/AP/File
American Jennifer Rodriguez, shown here skating in the women’s 500-meter event at the 2009 US Olympic Speed Skating trials in Kearns, Utah. Rodriguez, nick-named “Miami Ice,” will be skating in her fourth Olympics in Vancouver. George Frey/AP
Short-track speed skater Jean-François Monette lights the Olympic flame at Montreal's Olympic Stadium during the Olympic Torch relay on Dec. 9, 2009. During its 106-day journey, the 2010 Olympic torch will pass through each of Canada’s 13 provinces and territories. Paul Chiasson/ The Canadian Press/AP
Kim Min-jung (front), a member of South Korea's top-ranked women's short track team, practices at the Korea National Training Center in Seoul less than a month before the Olympics. The Koreans are fierce competitors in short track, having won 29 medals over the past five Winter Olympic Games. Choi Bu-Seok/Reuters
2006 gold medalist and double world-record holder Shani Davis of the US is on track for more success in Vancouver – if, that is, he doesn't get in any more tangles with comedian Stephen Colbert, who has become a key sponsor of the team. The two staged a mock race after Davis called Colbert a 'jerk.' You know who won, of course. But guess by how much? Davis: 35 seconds. Colbert: 13+ minutes. Darryl Dyck/The Canadian Press/AP
Martina Sablikova of the Czech Republic' competes in the women's 1500-meter race at the European All-Round Speed Skating Championships in Hamar, Norway. The upcoming Winter Olympics will likely pit Canada's Christine Nesbitt against Sablikova for the gold medal. Matt Dunham/AP/File
Canadian figure skaters practice during a Skate Canada training camp at Pacific Coliseum in Vancouver, British Columbia. The venue will be the site of figure skating and short-track speed skating events during the Vancouver 2010 Winter Olympic Games. Darryl Dyck/The Canadian Press/AP
The Netherlands' Sven Kramer competes in the men's 1500-meter race at the European All-Round Speed Skating Championships at the Hamar, Norway on Jan. 10 2010. Kramer won silver in the 5000-meter event at the 2006 Olympic Games and is a three-time world all-around champion. Matt Dunham/AP/File
Kim Min-jung (front), a member of South Korea's women top-ranked short track team, and fellow members practice during a media event at the Korea National Training Center in Seoul on Jan. 20, 2010. The Koreans are fierce competitors in the speed skating events, having won 29 medals over the past five Winter Olympic Games. Choi Bu-Seok/Reuters
On Friday Spain's Catalonia region voted to give their leader the power to call a secession referendum. Inspired by Scotland's vote on indpendence, European separatists are seeking the same chance.
ByAlan Clendenning and Joseph Wilson, Associated Press
Despite Scotland's decision to reject independence, lawmakers in Spain's Catalonia region voted overwhelmingly Friday to give their leader the power to call a secession referendum that the central government in Madrid has denounced as illegal.