Jennifer Rodriguez: One to Watch at the Winter Olympics

My mother once told me, “Never say you hate something. People might get offended!” So I’ll just say this… I’m not a winter enthusiast. I’m not fond of the snow, the cold or having to bundle up. I do, however, love the Winter Olympics (especially since I can enjoy the games from the warmth of my couch), which get started today in Vancouver.

I’m counting on two-time Olympic bronze medalist Jennifer Rodriguez to add major excitement to the event. The Cuban American speedskater will be competing in her fourth Winter Olympic Games.  Nicknamed “Miami Ice,” the 33-year-old Rodriguez—the first Latina speedskating champion—called it quits after a poor performance at the 2006 Olympic Winter Games, but decided to come out of retirement in late 2008. She even managed to set a new American record in the Ladies 1500m in December.  Back in winning form, Rodriguez is set to make the most of what will most likely be her last Olympics. "I'd really like to enjoy these games and leave this sport with a good taste in my mouth," she says. Read more about her here.

But Rodriguez isn’t the only Hispanic-American athlete vying for Olympic gold in Vancouver.  Here’s a look at the other Latinos to watch:

  • Ice dancer Ben Agosto, 28, and his partner Tanith Belbin won the silver medal at the 2006 Winter Olympics.  The half Puerto Rican Agosto is also a four-time World medalist.
  • Bobsledder Emily Azevedo, 26, is a former track and field star from the University of California—Davis.  This is her first Olympics.

And don’t miss tonight’s opening ceremony. Canadians Nelly Furtado, Sarah McLachlan and Bryan Adams are all scheduled to perform.

The XXI Olympic Winter Games will be held Feb. 12 to Feb. 18. Will you be watching?