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updated: 1/31/2014 4:10 PM

Suburban spots, city events help you get in the Olympic spirit

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  • The Chicago Curling Club offers introductory classes for those wanting to learn the Olympic sport.

      The Chicago Curling Club offers introductory classes for those wanting to learn the Olympic sport.
    Daily Herald file photo by Mark Welsh/mwelsh@daily

  • You'll need the right gear if you're going to give curling a try. The Chicago Curling Club offers introductory classes for those wanting to learn the Olympic sport.

      You'll need the right gear if you're going to give curling a try. The Chicago Curling Club offers introductory classes for those wanting to learn the Olympic sport.
    Daily Herald file photo by Mark Welsh/mwelsh@daily

  • Olympic gold may be out of reach for most of us, but you can give skiing and snowboarding a try at Villa Olivia in Bartlett.

      Olympic gold may be out of reach for most of us, but you can give skiing and snowboarding a try at Villa Olivia in Bartlett.
    Daily Herald file photo by Mark Black/mblack@daily

  • Ice Dancers Meryl Davis and Charlie White may be among the featured performers in "Stars on Ice" coming to the Allstate Arena in Rosemont.

      Ice Dancers Meryl Davis and Charlie White may be among the featured performers in "Stars on Ice" coming to the Allstate Arena in Rosemont.

  • Ashley Wagner could be one of the headliners in "Stars on Ice." The show comes to the Allstate Arena in Rosemont in May.

      Ashley Wagner could be one of the headliners in "Stars on Ice." The show comes to the Allstate Arena in Rosemont in May.

  • The Russian city of Sochi, host to the 2014 Winter Olympics, is the focus of a new photography exhibition by photographer Rob Hornstra and writer Arnold van Bruggen at the DePaul Art Museum. It's called "The Sochi Project: An Atlas of War and Tourism in the Caucasus."

      The Russian city of Sochi, host to the 2014 Winter Olympics, is the focus of a new photography exhibition by photographer Rob Hornstra and writer Arnold van Bruggen at the DePaul Art Museum. It's called "The Sochi Project: An Atlas of War and Tourism in the Caucasus."
    Courtesy of DePaul Art Museum

  • Evan Lysacek won't return to the Olympics this year, but you can skate where the Naperville native trained on his way to the gold medal.

      Evan Lysacek won't return to the Olympics this year, but you can skate where the Naperville native trained on his way to the gold medal.
    Associated Press

  • The movie "Miracle," about Team USA's unlikely hockey win over Russia at the 1980 Olympics, should get you in the mood for the Winter Games. The 2004 movie starred Kurt Russell, center, as Coach Herb Brooks.

      The movie "Miracle," about Team USA's unlikely hockey win over Russia at the 1980 Olympics, should get you in the mood for the Winter Games. The 2004 movie starred Kurt Russell, center, as Coach Herb Brooks.

 
By Amy Fuller
afuller@dailyherald.com

Not able to travel to Russia to see the Winter Olympics?

Join (most of) the rest of us.

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But tuning in to watch the games on TV when they begin Feb. 6 in Sochi isn't the only way to get into the Olympic spirit. In fact, we've brainstormed 10 relatively easy ways for you to show your support closer to home:

1. Watch an Olympic-themed movie

There are a number of good options. Want an Olympic-themed comedy? Pop "Cool Runnings" into the DVD player. The Disney film revolves around the Jamaican bobsled team that competed in the 1988 Winter Olympic Games. Prefer a rousing drama? "Miracle" re-creates the U.S. Olympic hockey team's astounding win against the Soviet Union in 1980. Rooting for romance? "The Cutting Edge" is about a figure skating diva paired with an ex-hockey player who compete at the Olympic finals.

2. Try a Russian dish

Pavilion Restaurant in Buffalo Grove offers several Russian-themed dishes, as well as other Eastern European favorites. Try some Ukrainian borscht, for example, a sweet and sour soup with beets, chicken, cabbage, carrots and other vegetables. There's also Siberian Pelmeny, a dumpling dish with chicken and onions, and Vareniky, Ukrainian potato pierogies. Main dish offerings include beef stroganoff and Romanoff beef stew, as well as Babushka's chicken liver. Visit pavilionchicago.com for information. If you're headed into the city, the landmark Russian Tea Time is the place to go.

3. Check out 'Stars on Ice'

On Saturday, May 3, the country's premiere figure-skating production makes a stop at Allstate Arena in Rosemont. America's figure-skating champions and top Olympic medal contenders will headline the nationwide tour. Two-time reigning U.S. champion Ashley Wagner and 2014 U.S. Figure Skating champion Gracie Gold (who trained in Elk Grove Village), two of the country's most popular performers, would be favorites. Other stars could include show veterans and ice dancers Meryl Davis and Charlie White, who won silver at the 2010 Olympics. Reserved seats for the show, founded by Olympic medalist Scott Hamilton, start at $25. Visit starsonice.com for tickets.

4. See 'Russian Transport' at Steppenwolf

In the Chicago-area premiere of Erika Sheffer's "Russian Transport," a rowdy Russian family in Brooklyn chases the American dream and has to decide just how far they're willing to go to come out on top. Billed as "a comedy-turned-thriller that took off-Broadway by storm," the show highlights a contemporary American immigrant experience with twists. It runs Feb. 6 through May 11 at the Steppenwolf Theatre, 1650 N. Halsted St., Chicago. Visit steppenwolf.org for information and tickets.

5. Hit the suburban slopes

The Games will miss one of its biggest athletes, Lindsey Vonn, who announced in early January she would be unable to compete because of a knee injury. In her honor, check out Villa Olivia, a Bartlett Park District facility that offers skiing, snowboarding and tubing. The hill includes seven runs, a chairlift, six rope tows and a tubing hill. Visit the ski lodge, which opened in 2012, for tickets, rentals and lessons. The slopes are open through March 2 on designated days, weather permitting. Visit villaolivia.com for prices and information.

6. Give curling a whirl

Having been described as "chess on ice," curling was one of the breakout events of the 2010 Winter Olympics in Vancouver, sparking new interest in the sport in America. The game involves players sliding granite stones across ice toward a target area that features four rings. The Chicago Curling Club in Northbrook offers introductory Learn2Curl classes as well as free lessons to members.

"(The Olympics) were a huge boon for the sport in the U.S.," says club spokeswoman Jessica Thomson. "Membership is up at our club, and new clubs are popping up all over the country." Visit chicagocurlingclub.org for information.

7. Ice skate where Olympian Evan Lysacek trained

Go skating where Olympic gold medalist and former Naperville resident Evan Lysacek trained -- Seven Bridges Ice Arena in Woodridge. The facility has been a big supporter throughout the figure skater's career. When he was younger, Lysacek skated at All Seasons Ice Rink in Aurora. Injuries are preventing him from pursuing another Olympic gold this winter, but the Neuqua Valley High School graduate, 28, will forever remain an icon in the Naperville community. Visit sevenbridgesicearena.com and allseasonsicerinks.com for information on public skate hours.

8. Meet and greet Olympics stars

The Road to Sochi Tour, presented by Liberty Mutual Insurance, provides fans an opportunity to see and meet Team USA members. The tour stops in Chicago Feb. 19 and 20, with the public invited to meet U.S. sled hockey star Rico Roman on Feb. 19 and U.S. Olympic skiing legend Picabo Street on Feb. 20 at NBC Plaza, 401 N. Michigan Ave., Chicago. Free exhibits include interactive sports elements that allow fans a chance to test their athletic skills in sports like curling and ski jumping. Visit teamusa.org/roadtosochitour.

9. Learn about Sochi, Russia

The Olympic host city, Sochi, is the focus of a new photography exhibition at the DePaul Art Museum in Chicago. "The Sochi Project: An Atlas of War and Tourism in the Caucasus," by photographer Rob Hornstra and writer Arnold van Bruggen, will be on display through March 23 before moving on to Canada, New York and Europe. The free exhibit documents the rapidly changing area and coastal city, portraying Sochi at a crossroads of war, tourism and history.

"These beautiful, evocative photos show the Sochi we won't see on TV: the faded Soviet resort city with turbulent politics and a tough economy. We come away with a deeper and more complex view of the glitz and glamour of the games," said Louise Lincoln, director of the museum at DePaul University's Lincoln Park Campus, 935 W. Fullerton Ave. Visit museums.depaul.edu for information.

10. Visit a shooting range

One lesser-known Olympic sport is the biathlon, which features cross-country skiing and shooting. There's really no good place to do it around here, for obvious reasons, but you can check out a shooting range near you to at least work on your aim. Article 2 Gun Range in Lombard offers introductory courses.

"I take someone who has never shot before in their life, and hopefully by the end of the class, they're hitting bulls-eyes," says Article 2 instructor Ken Browne.

Visit article2range.com for information.

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