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Cold days, hot nights: Olympic Village secrets

It may be the most exclusive neighborhood in the world. Money can’t buy a room there: The only currency accepted is supreme athletic talent.

It’s the Olympic Village, and its residents are the strongest, fastest, most competitive and most confident men and women in the world. Scattered among this population of athletic heroes are the greatest champions from across the globe, people who have won multiple Olympic medals and world titles and dominate their sports.

“You can’t believe there’s all these iconic champions from every sport you never thought you’d meet, and now you’re having lunch with them,” said Scott Hamilton, the 1984 Sarajevo Olympics men’s singles figure skating champion and a participant in the 1980 Lake Placid Games.

100,000 condoms
The citizens of the village are young, remarkably healthy, and the definition of physically attractive. In such an environment, flirting is as natural as breathing.

“It’s eye candy all the time. Everybody’s checking everybody else out from moment they get there,” recalled Cammi Granato, captain of the powerful U.S. Ice Hockey Team that won gold in Nagano in 1998 and silver in 2002 in Salt Lake City.

Inevitably, some athletes get beyond flirting. That’s why the Vancouver organizers have laid in a stock of 100,000 condoms, which works out to 14 for each of the 7,000 athletes, coaches, trainers and officials housed in the Games’ two villages. (Apparently, skiing, skating and sliding aren’t the only activities at which Olympians excel.)

  • Slideshow Photos

    Tatyana Zenkovich / EPA

    Image: Feature

    Winter Olympic parks and villages

    From Lillehammer to Sochi, Russia, see which gorgeous snowy towns hosted the games in the last century.

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    1924, Chamonix, France

    On your mark, get set ...! A group of American skaters practices for the first official Winter Olympic Games at Chamonix.

    Getty Images / Getty Images
  • General view of the Ice Skating rink during the Ice Hockey match between Canada and Switzerland

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    1928, St. Moritz, Switzerland

    Here is a general view of the ice-skating rink during the ice-hockey match between Canada and Switzerland in 1928. Canada won the match 13-0 and went on to win the gold medal; Switzerland won the bronze.

    IOC Olympic Museum/Allsport via Getty Images / IOC Olympic Museum/Allsport via Getty Images
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    1932, Lake Placid, N.Y., USA

    The third Winter Olympic Games saw a dip in participation because the long, costly trip to the United States was daunting for many competitors during the Great Depression. Warm weather also had a negative effect on the 1932 event.

    AP / AP
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    1936, Garmisch-Partenkirchen, Germany

    Here is an image of an ice-hockey match between the USA and Canada during the Winter Olympics at Garmisch-Partenkirchen. After 1936, the Summer and Winter Olympics were no longer held in the same country.

    Getty Images / Getty Images
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    1948, St. Moritz, Switzerland

    The idyllic Swiss town of St. Moritz, untouched by World War II, hosted the first post-war games in 1948. Twenty-eight countries competed in Switzerland, although teams from Germany and Japan were not invited.

    Getty Images / Getty Images
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    1952, Oslo, Norway

    American skier Jack Reddish approaches the finish line in the Men's Downhill competition at the Winter Olympics in Norway on Feb. 18, 1952. This event, held in the town of Norefjell, was won by Italian skier Zeno Colo. For the games held in Oslo, the Olympic flame was lit in the fireplace of skiing pioneer Sondre Nordheim.

    Getty Images / Getty Images
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    1956, Cortina, Italy

    Spectators entering the ice stadium before the opening ceremony of the seventh Winter Olympic Games, in Cortina, Italy, which were the first to be televised. At the opening ceremonies, the final torch bearer entered the Olympic Stadium on ice skates, which got caught on a cable. He fell, nearly extinguishing the flame, but was able to save it just in time.

    AP / AP
  • Athletes, officials and fans from all over the wor

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    1960, Squaw Valley, Calif., USA

    Athletes, officials and fans from all over the world watch as the Olympic flame is lit during the opening ceremony of the eighth Winter Olympic Games in Squaw Valley. The Games marked the debut of the Soviet Union team, which won more medals than any other nation present.

    AFP - Getty Images / AFP - Getty Images
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    Winter Olympic parks and villages

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    1964, Innsbruck, Austria

    A view of the opening ceremonies of the 1964 Winter Olympics at the Bergisel Stadium in Austria. The games were off to a shaky start when warm weather caused a lack of snow in the area, so the Austrian army was called on to deliver snow and ice.

    Time & Life Pictures via Getty Images / Time & Life Pictures via Getty Images
  • General view of the Delegations Parade during the Opening Ceremony of the 1968 Winter Olympics

    Winter Olympic parks and villages

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    1968, Grenoble, France

    A colorful look at the Delegations Parade during the opening ceremony of the 1968 Winter Olympic Games in Grenoble, France. This was the first Winter Olympics to be broadcast in color, which helped the organizing committee sell the television rights for $2 million.

    Getty Images / Getty Images
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    1972, Sapporo, Japan

    Japanese girls form Olympic rings in the center of the Makomanai ice arena during the closing ceremony of the Winter Olympics. The 1972 Games were the first to be held outside of North America or Europe.

    AP / AP
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    1976, Innsbruck, Austria

    A scenic shot of international ski jumping in Innsbruck, Austria. The Games were originally awarded to Denver, but Colorado voters expressed unwillingness to host them through a state referendum. Innsbruck, which already had built Olympic structures in 1964, was chosen as a replacement. Since it was Innsbruck's second time hosting, two Olympic flames were lit.

    AP / AP
  • Spectators and athletes from all over the world wa

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    1980, Lake Placid, N.Y., USA

    Spectators and athletes from all over the world watch the opening ceremony of the Winter Olympics in Lake Placid, which also hosted the games in 1932. It was at these Olympic Games that the "miracle on ice" American hockey team beat the favored Soviets and went on to win the gold medal.

    AFP - Getty Images / AFP - Getty Images
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    1984, Sarajevo, Yugoslavia

    Peace and harmony reigned during the well-organized Winter Olympic Games in Sarajevo, giving no signs whatsoever that Yugoslavia would become engulfed by war just a few years later.

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    1988, Calgary, Canada

    A man watches a ski-jump competitor with the Calgary skyline in the background during the 1988 WInter Olympics. These Olympic games saw the addition of new ski-jumping and speed-skating events.

    Getty Images / Getty Images
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    1992, Savoie region of France

    On Dec. 14, 1991, Parisians celebrated with a parade escorting the Olympic flame along the Champs Elysees. An estimated 200,000 spectators turned out for the parade, which featured 10,000 people forming mosaics representing Alpine themes.

    AP / AP
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    1994, Lillehammer, Norway

    Here is a general view of the ski-jumping area during the Winter Olympics in Lillehammer. These games marked the first time that the Winter Olympics and Summer Olympics did not take place in the same year. The change occurred after the International Olympic Committee voted to hold the games in alternating even-numbered years from 1994 on.

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    1998, Nagano, Japan

    This aerial photograph shows Nagano's speed-skating site, along with a sweeping view of the city of Nagano. These games marked the first time that the men's ice-hockey tournament was open to all professional players.

    AFP - Getty Images / AFP - Getty Images
  • Fireworks light up the skyline over Salt Lake City

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    2002, Salt Lake City, Utah, USA

    Fireworks light up Salt Lake City's skyline during the closing ceremonies of the Winter Olympics on Feb. 24, 2002. During these games, German Georg Hackl becomes the first athlete to win medals in the same individual event -- the singles luge -- at five Olympic Games in a row.

    AFP - Getty Images / AFP - Getty Images
  • ITA: Turin Olympic Games - Preview - 1 Day To Opening Ceremony

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    2006, Turin, Italy

    This photo was taken on Feb. 9, 2006, during the men's downhill training, just before the start of the Winter Olympic Games on Feb. 10. During these games, South Korean athletes prevailed in short-track speed-skating events.

    Getty Images / Getty Images
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    2010, Vancouver, Canada

    View of the Olympic Village which houses Winter Olympic athletes, in downtown Vancouver on Feb. 7. The Richmond Olympic Oval was the site of the Long Track Speed Skating during the 2010 Vancouver Winter Olympics.

    AFP/Getty Images / AFP/Getty Images
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    2014, Sochi, Russia

    General view of the olympic village at the Rosa Khutor Alpine center in the mountain cluster on Feb. 2, prior to the start of 2014 Sochi Winter Olympic Games.

    AFP - Getty Images / AFP - Getty Images

The distribution of free condoms at the Olympics goes back at least to 1992 and Barcelona. In 2000, Sydney organizers thought that 70,000 would be enough. They were wrong and had to send out for 20,000 more. Beijing also ordered 100,000 condoms with an Olympic motto: Faster, higher, stronger.

Laugh if you will, but also give the International Olympic Committee credit for acting like a responsible parent: In addition to handing out condoms, they run HIV and AIDS information campaigns in the Olympic Village. And the U.S. Curling Association has gone a step further: In partnership with Kodiak Technology Group, they have introduced the Hurry Hard condom, named for a phrase curlers chant to get their teammates to sweep the ice faster. Proceeds from the prophylactics — which sport a happy cartoon curling stone on their label above the slogan “Be smart, stay safe” — are split between USA Curling and Monterey County AIDS prevention.

But few athletes reach for the condom supply while their events are going on. They’ve spent four years since the previous Olympics working, training and preparing for one shot at glory, and they’re not going to throw countless hours of hard work and sacrifice away for anything — even Norwegian cross-country champions and Chinese speedskaters.

The fact is, people with poor impulse control don’t make it to the Olympic Village. “Olympians are surprisingly mature, no matter what age. It’s required of you,” said legendary skier Picabo Street, who won gold in the super-G in Nagano and silver in the downhill in Lillehammer. “If you act like an idiot, you really stand out.”

Street’s strongest memory of her three Olympic villages — she also skied in the Salt Lake Olympics — is the incredible level of energy radiating from so many hypercompetitive people at the pinnacle of physical and mental conditioning.

“It’s hundreds of auras, which does lead to a huge movement of energy,” Street told TODAY. “It’s not normal, resting energy; it’s jacked-up, hyped-up, on-the-brink-of-my-dream-coming-true, got-to-get-it, got-to-do-it energy, and it’s there all the time.”

Kind of makes you hyperventilate just thinking about it.

Room and no boredom
With the athletes so cranked up, Olympic organizers make sure to provide plenty of activities to soak up their excess energy, from video games to concerts to computers with Internet access.

Kevork Djansezian / Getty Images North America
VANCOUVER, BC - FEBRUARY 09: People walk through the Olympic Village ahead of the Vancouver 2010 Winter Olympics on February 9, 2010 in Vancouver, Canada. (Photo by Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images)

Vancouver has actually provided two villages — one for the skiing venues in the mountains outside of town, the other on the water in downtown Vancouver. Both will be sold as condos after the Games.

Individual teams are housed together in however many adjoining units they need. Athletes bunk two to a room, and bedrooms do not contain televisions.

Each venue has a separate lounge. In Vancouver the lounge is housed in a separate, 45,000-square-foot building, along with a post office, café, stores and an art gallery. Also available in the village are television lounges, game rooms with everything from Guitar Hero to pool and table tennis tables, training centers, and a 24-hour health clinic where athletes can get massages and other physical therapy.

Then there’s the food. It’s available 24 hours, and chefs attempt to satisfy as many international varieties of palate as possible. In Vancouver, that means different varieties of rice for Koreans, Japanese and Chinese cuisines. There are also McDonald’s at each village, and the food there, as in the cafeterias, is free.

Night lifeThere are no lights-out times or curfews in the Olympic Village, but coaches and team officials keep an eye on their charges, some more strictly than others. The Austrians, traditional kings of the Alpine events, are kept on a particularly tight leash, according to Street, while the Italians seem to take more joy out of each day.

Alcohol is not allowed in the village, nor are prying reporters or most other visitors.

Ever since 1972, when Palestinian Black September terrorists killed 11 Israeli athletes and coaches at the Munich Olympics, security in Olympic villages has been as tight as organizers can make it. Once inside, the residents are in a virtual cocoon, insulated from the world outside.

Michael Kappeler / AFP
General view of the Olympic Village in Whistler taken on February 10, 2010 ahead of the Vancouver Winter Olympics. AFP PHOTO DDP / MICHAEL KAPPELER (Photo credit should read MICHAEL KAPPELER/AFP/Getty Images)

And once they finish their competitions after years of grueling work and constant self-denial, the Olympic Village residents are finally free to blow off some steam.

For many, that means going to town, hitting the bars and clubs, creeping back home in the wee hours and hooking up. The trick for partying athletes is doing it without bothering peers who still have to compete.

NBC figure skating analyst Sandra Bezic was a wide-eyed innocent of 15 when she skated in the pairs competition for Canada in 1972. She remains struck by the fact that even when they party, Olympic athletes are in control.

“Athletes who have trained so hard and respect their bodies so much, their letting loose is not even like normal teenager rebelling,” Bezic said.

Still, some go overboard. In 1998, for example, NHL hockey players participated in the Olympics for the first time. The American team did poorly in the tournament at first, whereupon some players, after a bit too much sake, tossed their furniture out the windows of their high-rise dorms. The team was sent home in disgrace when it was eliminated from competition.

That was the same year the U.S. Women’s team won its first Olympic gold medal. Granato said that U.S. hockey officials tried to confine the women to quarters, too, because of the sins of the men’s team. “We ignored that for the most part,” she said with a laugh. Gold medals demand celebrations.

Dress code
Out in the real world, few people would have the nerve to hang a gold medal around their neck and go out to a bar. But in the Olympic Village, gold medals are a perfectly acceptable fashion statement for any occasion. Athletes regularly wear them to the cafeteria, to the game lounge — and to bed.

“We slept with ours,” Granato said.

And even in a society of champions, the medals are like magnets. Win a gold and everybody wants to be your friend. Rumor has it that male winners, in particular, have their pick of females.

  • Slideshow Photos

    Cameron Spencer / Getty Images North America

    Image:  KD Lang

    They’re hot in Hollywood, but many of today’s biggest celebrities actually hail from the cooler climes of Canada.

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    k.d. lang

    Birthplace: Edmonton, Alberta (a Canadian prairie town)

    Claim to fame: Won a Grammy for Best Pop Vocal Performance for her song “Constant Craving” (1992). She also performed at the opening ceremony for the 2010 Vancouver Olympics.

    Early work: Won a Juno Award in 1985 for the Most Promising Female Vocalist (Canada's Grammys) after only releasing two albums with her band The Reclines.

    Strange but true: Starred as a young mysterious Alaskan orphan in German filmmaker Percy Adlon's 1991 cult classic drama, “Salmonberries.”

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  • Vancouver 2010 Winter Olympic Games - Day 1

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    Sarah McLachlan

    Birthplace: Halifax, Nova Scotia

    Claim to fame: Organized and co-founded the Lilith Fair tour, a concert tour focusing on emerging women singers/songwriters.

    Early work: Traveled to Cambodia and Thailand in 1992 to work on “World Vision,” a Canadian-sponsored documentary on poverty and child prostitution.

    Strange but true: Has released numerous remix collections. On her second, “Bloom,” the song “Just Like Me” features Run DMC and was remixed by will.i.am of the Black Eyed Peas. She also performed at the opening ceremony for the 2010 Vancouver Olympics.

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    Seth Rogen

    Birthplace: Vancouver, British Columbia

    Claim to fame: Was the lead actor and executive producer of Judd Apatow’s smash 2007 comedy “Knocked Up.”

    Early work: Was a staff writer on the final season of “Da Ali G Show,” for which he and the other writers received an Emmy nomination.

    Strange but true: Performed his first standup gig at age 13; co-wrote “Superbad” with his friend Evan Goldberg at 14; placed second in the Vancouver amateur Comedy Contest at 16.

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    Will Arnett

    Birthplace: Toronto, Ontario

    Claim to fame: Played George Oscar “GOB” Bluth II, the spoiled, middle-aged, aspiring magician and disliked son of a wealthy but dysfunctional Southern California family in FOX’s “Arrested Development.”

    Early work: Appeared on an episode of “Sex and the City” as a man Miranda Hobbes dated who only wanted to have sex in places where they might get caught.

    Strange but true: Initially considered himself a dramatic actor; also has done voice-over work for CBS TV promos, film trailers and numerous advertisements, including GMC trucks.

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    Jason Priestley

    Birthplace: Vancouver, British Columbia

    Claim to fame: Played goody-two-shoes twin Brandon Walsh on Aaron Spelling’s hit TV series “Beverly Hills 90210.”

    Early work: His first regular role was as the unruly orphan Todd Mahaffey in NBC TV series “Sister Kate.”

    Strange but true: Directed a documentary about Canadian band The Barenaked Ladies and a video for their single “The Old Apartment,” which earned him a Best Director nomination at the 1996 Canadian Music Video Awards.

    Getty Images for AFI / Getty Images for AFI
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    Dan Aykroyd

    Birthplace: Ottawa, Ontario

    Claim to fame: Original cast member and writer of the late-night comedy show “Saturday Night Live,” where he impersonated Jimmy Carter, Richard Nixon and Julia Child. Also became known for his roles in “Coneheads” and “The Blues Brothers.”

    Early work: First feature film role and co-writing debut was a Canadian film called “Love at First Sight” (1977).

    Strange but true: His wife Donna Dixon is a former model who holds the twin titles of Miss Virginia 1976 and Miss District of Columbia 1977.

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    Elisha Cuthbert

    Birthplace: Calgary, Alberta

    Claim to fame: Playing Kiefer Sutherland’s rebellious daughter, Kimberly Bauer, on the popular series “24.”

    Early work: Was a field correspondent for the acclaimed Canadian TV series “Popular Mechanics for Kids.”

    Strange but true: She was invited by former first lady Hillary Rodham Clinton to Washington for a meeting while she was a correspondent on “Popular Mechanics for Kids.”

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    Joni Mitchell

    Birthplace: Fort McLeod, Alberta

    Claim to fame: Environmental anthem “Big Yellow Taxi,” hit singles “You Turn Me On, I’m a Radio,” “Help Me,” “Free Man in Paris” and “Raised on Robbery.” Inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1997.

    Early work: Songwriter for such artists as Judy Collins, Fairport Convention, Tom Rush, Buffy Sainte-Marie and Dave Van Ronk.

    Strange but true: In June 2007, she was featured on a postage stamp.

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    Evangeline Lilly

    Call them northern lights in the Hollywood firmament: A surprising number of Tinseltown's biggest stars hail from America's neighbor to the north, including Evangeline Lilly.

    Birthplace: Fort Saskatchewan, Alberta

    Claim to fame: Lead female role on "Lost" as pretty but tough Kate Austen.

    Early work: Appeared in commercials for a singles chat line; had uncredited role in horror film "Freddy vs. Jason."
    Strange but true: Once lived in a grass hut as a missionary in the Philippines.

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  • Singer Alanis Morissette from Canada performs

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    Alanis Morissette

    Birthplace: Ottawa, Ontario

    Claim to fame: Her 1995 album "Jagged Little Pill" sold 30 million copies worldwide.

    Early work: Was a regular on the Nickelodeon comedy series "You Can't Do That on Television" in 1986.

    Strange but true: Played the role of God in the 1999 film "Dogma."

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    Howie Mandel

    Birthplace: Toronto, Ontario

    Claim to fame: Genial host of giveaway game show "Deal or No Deal."

    Early work: Played Dr. Wayne Fiscus on "St. Elsewhere" in the late '80s

    Strange but true: His trademark as a stand-up comic was stretching a latex glove over his head and inflating it.

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    Ellen Page

    Birthplace: Halifax, Nova Scotia

    Claim to fame: Earned Oscar and Golden Globe nominations in title role of "Juno."

    Early work: Acted in TV-movie "Pit Pony" at age 10 and went on to Canadian TV series of the same name.

    Strange but true: Had to wear hair extensions in "X-Men: The Last Stand" because she'd shaved her head for another film.

    Reuters / Reuters
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    Michael Buble

    Birthplace: Burnaby, British Columbia

    Claim to fame: Has sold more than 11 million albums as an adult contemporary vocalist.

    Early work: Won the Canadian Youth Talent Search in his teens.

    Strange but true: Co-wrote his hit "Lost" after breaking up with his fiancée.

    AP / AP
  • Actress Kim Cattrall arrives for the world premiere of ''Sex And The City: The Movie'' at Leicester Square in London

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    Kim Cattrall

    Birthplace: Widnes, England (her family moved to Canada when she was 3 months old).

    Claim to fame: Played sex-crazed Samantha Jones in "Sex and the City" and its movie spinoff.

    Early work: "Porky's" (1982), "Police Academy" (1984)

    Strange but true: Wrote the 2002 book "Satisfaction: The Art of the Female Orgasm" with her ex-husband.

    Sarah Jessica Parker on ‘Sex and the City’ movie

    Reuters / Reuters
  • Japan Premiere of Doug Liman latest movie 'Jumper'

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    Hayden Christensen

    Birthplace: Vancouver, British Columbia

    Claim to fame: Played Anakin Skywalker in George Lucas’ “Star Wars: Episode II - Attack of the Clones”

    Early work: TV series “Family Passions” (1993), “Higher Ground” (2000), “Life as a House” (2001)

    Strange but true: He runs a production company, Forest Park Pictures, with his older brother Tove.

    EPA / EPA
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    Jill Hennessy

    Birthplace: Edmonton, Alberta

    Claim to fame: Starred as crime-fighting medical examiner Jordan Cavanaugh on "Crossing Jordan."

    Early work: Played assistant D.A. Claire Kincaid on "Law & Order" from 1993 to '96.

    Strange but true: Has an identical twin; they played twin call girls in 1988 horror film "Dead Ringers."

    AP / AP
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    Jim Carrey

    Birthplace: Newmarket, Ontario

    Claim to fame: Golden Globe-winning star of such comedy hits as the "Ace Ventura" films, "Dumb and Dumber" and "Bruce Almighty," as well as dramas such as "Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind."

    Early work: Played Fire Marshall Bill and other zany characters on TV's "In Living Color."

    Strange but true: Auditioned to be a cast member of "Saturday Night Live" but was turned down.

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    Linda Evangelista

    Birthplace: St. Catharines, Ontario

    Claim to fame: One of the first generation of supermodels who revolutionized the fashion industry.

    Early work: Was discovered at the Miss Teen Niagara Contest in 1978.

    Strange but true: Appeared in George Michael music videos "Freedom" and "Too Funky."

    AFP - Getty Images / AFP - Getty Images
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    Avril Lavigne

    Birthplace: Belleville, Ontario

    Claim to fame: Released her debut album “Let Go” at the age of 17 and introduced various young girls to skater pants.

    Early work: Singing at local festivals, county fairs.

    Strange but true: At 14 she won a local radio contest to perform a duet onstage with fellow Canadian and singer Shania Twain.

    AP / AP
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    Michael Cera

    Birthplace: Brampton, Ontario

    Claim to fame: Starred in hit comedies "Superbad" and (with fellow Canadian Ellen Page) "Juno."

    Early work: Played the son of Jason Bateman's character on the critically acclaimed but ratings-challenged TV series "Arrested Development" for three seasons.

    Strange but true: Auditioned for Haley Joel Osment's role in "The Sixth Sense."

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    Nelly Furtado

    Birthplace: Victoria, British Columbia

    Claim to fame: Her 2000 Grammy-award winning single “I’m Like a Bird” and her 2006 hip-hop hit “Promiscuous.”

    Early work: “Whoa, Nelly” (2000), “Folklore” (2003).

    Strange but true: Can play the ukulele and the trombone.

    AP / AP
  • Pamela Anderson arrives at the White Hou

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    Pamela Anderson

    Birthplace: Ladysmith, British Columbia

    Claim to fame: Sex symbol actress whose spouses have included rock musicians Tommy Lee and Kid Rock.

    Early work: Was the "Tool Time girl" on hit '90s sitcom "Home Improvment"

    Strange but true: Won fame as Canada's "Centennial Baby" for supposedly being the first child born in Canada on the nation's Centennial Day.

    AFP - Getty Images / AFP - Getty Images
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    Ryan Gosling

    Birthplace: London, Ontario

    Claim to fame: Best Actor Oscar nomination as a drug-addicted high school teacher in "Half Nelson" (2006).

    Early work: Costarred with Britney Spears, Christina Aguilera and Justin Timberlake in the 1990s version of "The Mickey Mouse Club."

    Strange but true: Has had no formal acting training.

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    Rachel McAdams

    Birthplace: London, Ontario

    Claim to fame: Played the queen bee Regina George in “Mean Girls.”

    Early work: “Perfect Pie” (2002), for which she won a Genie (Canada's Oscar); “The Hot Chick” (2002)

    Strange but true: Started competitive skating at the age of 4 but quit at 18 to pursue acting.

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  • Celine Dion

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    Celine Dion

    Birthplace: Charlemagne, Quebec

    Claim to fame: Five-time Grammy-winning vocalist who has sold 50 million albums worldwide.

    Early work: Composed her first song, "It Was Only a Dream," at age 12 with her mother and brother.

    Strange but true: Is reputed to possess an astonishing five-octave vocal range.

    AP / AP
  • Universal Pictures Premiere Of "Definitely, Maybe"

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    Ryan Reynolds

    Birthplace: Vancouver, British Columbia

    Claim to fame: Rising Hollywood leading man whose roles include "The Amityville Horror" (2005), "Smokin' Aces" (2006) and "Definitely, Maybe" (2008).

    Early work: TV series "Two Guys, a Girl and a Pizza Place" (later "Two Guys and a Girl"), 1998-2001.

    Strange but true: Was engaged to fellow Canadian Alanis Morissette before becoming engaged to, and later marrying Scarlett Johansson.

    Getty Images / Getty Images
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    Sandra Oh

    Birthplace: Nepean, Ontario (a suburb of Ottawa)

    Claim to fame: Won a Golden Globe and a SAG Award as Dr. Cristina Yang on "Grey's Anatomy."

    Early work: Won a Best Actress Genie award (Canada's Oscar) for "Double Happiness" (1994).

    Strange but true: Ex-wife of filmmaker Alexander Payne, who directed her in "Sideways" (2004).

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  • VH1's Big In 2003 Awards - Show

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    Shania Twain

    Birthplace: Windsor, Ontario

    Claim to fame: Country-pop singer whose "Come On Over" is the biggest-selling album ever by a female artist and the biggest-selling country album of all time.

    Early work: Sang in bars at age 8 to help support her family. Strange

    but true: Preserves her complexion with an ointment normally used on cow's udders to protect them from winter weather.

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  • Actor Keanu Reeves arrives for the premi

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    Keanu Reeves

    Birthplace: Beirut, Lebanon (he grew up mainly in Toronto, Ontario).

    Claim to fame: Top Hollywood leading man whose films include the "Matrix" trilogy, "Speed," and "Street Kings."

    Early work: Teen comedies "Bill & Ted's Excellent Adventure" (1989) and "Bill & Ted's Bogus Journey" (1991).

    Strange but true: Is left-handed, but plays right-handed bass guitar in rock band Becky.

    AFP - Getty Images / AFP - Getty Images
  • The Pink Party To Benefit Cedars-Sinai Women's Cancer Research Institute - Arrivals

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    Sarah Chalke

    Birthplace: Ottawa, Ontario

    Claim to fame: Plays Dr. Elliot Reid on Emmy-winning sitcom "Scrubs."

    Early work: Replaced Alicia Goranson as Becky Conner on hit sitcom "Roseanne" when Goranson left the show to go to college.

    Strange but true: Was a reporter on the Canadian children's show "KidZone" at age 12.

    Getty Images  / Getty Images
  • Mike Myers

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    Mike Myers

    Birthplace: Scarborough, Ontario

    Claim to fame: Comedy star whose biggest roles include zany secret agent Austin Powers and the voice of animated ogre Shrek.

    Early work: Was a member of Second City comedy groups in Toronto and Chicago before joining "Saturday Night Live" and then starring in SNL spinoff movie "Wayne's World" (1992).

    Strange but true: Was sued by Universal Pictures for backing out of a movie based on his "Saturday Night Live" sketch "Sprockets" because he didn't think the script he'd written for it was good enough.

    AP / AP
  • William Shatner

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    William Shatner

    Birthplace: Montreal, Quebec

    Claim to fame: Played Captain Kirk in "Star Trek" TV series and seven subsequent films; other TV series include "T.J. Hooker" and "Boston Legal."

    Early work: Portrayed terrified airplane passenger in "Nightmare at 20,000 Feet," a classic episode of "The Twilight Zone."

    Strange but true: Provoked controversy when he kissed African-American costar Nichelle Nichols in a 1968 episode of "Star Trek": It was the first interracial kiss between characters in a U.S. TV drama series.

    AP / AP

TODAY asked ’84 gold medalist Hamilton if that was true.

“Really?” he said in mock surprise. “Why didn’t anybody tell me?”

That’s the thing about life in the Village. You hear stories, but there are never names attached to them. It would break the code: As with Las Vegas, what happens in the Village, stays in the village.

So no one will go on the record when talking about certain female figure skaters — no home country was specified — who, as one former athlete put it, “really liked hockey players — and I use the plural. I think Sweden was a very grateful country for that.”

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