Winter Olympians back in action
We're now less than 100 days away from the 2010 Winter Olympics, which begin in the Canadian city of Vancouver on 12 February.
But the Games won't just emerge out of nothing. The world's top winter sports athletes are already getting stuck into the winter season - there is action all over the place as they cram in training sessions and try to get the kind of results, and confidence, that will see them on to medals in Canada.
Here's a round-up of what's been going on, including links to the best stuff on the BBC and elsewhere, and a look ahead to the coverage we've got coming up.
Solden, in Austria, is almost always the first place to look when the winter sports season gets going. It's the traditional venue for the start of the skiing World Cup circuit.
Cuche won the 2007 world championship bronze medal in giant slalom, and holds the world title in super-G, another alpine skiing discipline (all of which are explained in our guides). Ligety has the 2009 world bronze to his name, and won Olympic gold in the combined event in Torino in 2006.
In the women's event, Finland's Tanja Poutiainen nipped in ahead of Austrian local favourite Kathrin Zettel to win by a margin of one hundredth of a second. Poutiainen won silver in the giant slalom at the last Olympics, but has never won a world or Olympic title, so it's a great start to her campaign.
However, another Austrian star, Nicole Hosp, tore her knee ligaments and is going to miss the rest of the season. She won the giant slalom world title in 2007, and would have been a medal contender at Vancouver.
The news from Solden wasn't great for Britain's Chemmy Alcott, either. Alcott is GB's only real hope in women's skiing right now, and last month she told Anna she has "the self-belief to win gold", but she also needs results - and finished down in 19th in Solden. Here's Swissinfo's report on proceedings, and the results are here.
The next event is slalom in the Finnish resort of Levi on 14 and 15 November. Check the skiing governing body's full calendar of World Cup events for more. And once you've done that, take a look at Ghana's "snow leopard" Kwame Nkrumah-Acheampong, who spoke to us last week.
Britain's snowboarders have been in action too. Ben Kilner, a 21-year-old from Banchory in Aberdeenshire, is hoping to reach Vancouver to compete in the half-pipe event, and finished 14th in the sport's second World Cup event of the season in Switzerland.
He didn't reach the final but, in his own words, "the result keeps me on track for Vancouver so I'm really pleased with that". Next up is the third round on 6 and 7 January 2010 in Kreischberg, Austria. There's more on the SnowsportsGB website, and Kilner was in London not so long ago, showing off at Battersea power station. We spent a bit of time speaking to him here.
Britain's Ben Kilner - a snowboarding powerhouse in the making?
The hundred-day countdown mark gave the British Olympic Association a cue to voice fears that London 2012 fever might overshadow British achievements in Vancouver.
BOA boss Andy Hunt said: "There's no way that I want winter athletes to ever feel like second-class citizens. They are absolutely fundamental to the Olympic movement, both in Britain and around the world."
Britain's winter sports competitors get roughly 1.5% of the funding available to the summer sports - and usually have to train abroad for their troubles, too. (There being no skeleton run or ski jump in the UK, among other facilities.)
We've heard tales of British winter sports athletes flogging goods from their car boots to make ends meet and pay training costs, and certainly there are others who fund themselves in the absence of official backing.
So novel ways of raising cash are nothing new, but the US speedskating team still raised eyebrows when they got US late-night TV comic Stephen Colbert involved.
Colbert's show is now sponsoring the team - or at least, the show's fans are. The show itself is paying nothing, but will encourage its viewers to donate. The US team say they don't know if they'll get $5 or $500,000.
Is it time for a GB response? Should the next series of X Factor - or perhaps more appropriately, Dancing On Ice - focus on finding winter sports talent, with the phone voting profits going to the athletes? I'm thinking Hole In The Wall On Ice would be appointment-to-view television in our living room.
Britain's skeleton team are one of our best bets for a medal in Vancouver. Shelley Rudman brought home silver in 2006, GB's only medal of the Games, and is heading back into action alongside partner and fellow skeleton star Kristan Bromley this year.
Their first two World Cup events are on 12 and 20 November at the US venues of Park City and Lake Placid respectively. Before they left the country, the BBC went filming with the pair.
Nationality issues are causing consternation in both the British and French camps ahead of the Winter Olympics.
Though she married an Englishman in August, her visa has yet to drop through the letterbox, and it'll be two more years before she can claim UK citizenship. All of which leaves Sochi 2014 as their target.
Remember French athlete Eunice Barber? Initially from Sierra Leone but a French competitor since 1999, Barber (right) is a former world champion in the heptathlon and long jump.
Her next trick was going to be a bid for women's bobsleigh gold in Vancouver, having re-trained to represent France in the event. But it takes two to
tango long jump bobsleigh, and Canadian-born Lesa Mayes-Stringer, the only woman capable of driving the French team's sled alongside Barber, has been denied French nationality for a second time.
"There is not much hope left," according to Charles Dumont, technical director of the French winter sports federation, quoted in the Vancouver Sun. "But we will try to mobilize support in political circles."
Finally, keep an ear out for BBC Radio 5 live's next Winter Olympics special, coming up on Thursday, 12 November from 2000 GMT, with Eleanor Oldroyd presenting. I'll pop details of who's appearing on the end of this blog as soon as I know, and the whole thing will be on iPlayer too.
Questions about the Winter Olympics? Want to know more about one of the sports, one of the athletes, or BBC coverage? Leave a comment below and I'll get onto it for you, or you can ask me on Twitter.