7 Ways to Enjoy the Olympics Without a TV

There are many ways to enjoy the Olympics this year without watching TV.

The Olympic Games always boasts at least a handful of firsts, but one of this year's first-ever feats isn't happening on ice or snow, but online.

On Twitter, Facebook, Google, Flickr and other Internet sites and mobile applications, Olympic fans around the world are taking part in the Vancouver Games in unprecedented numbers.

"It's the first-ever social media Olympics. There's no doubt about it," said Alex Huot, the International Olympic Committee's (first-ever) head of social media.

Olympic medals might be decided by the events broadcast on television, but social media goes a long way in sharing what happens off the sporting stage, in the minds of the competitors and those who cheer them on.

VIDEO: Several American athletes are representing other countries at Vancouver games.
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"I think the big thing is how personal you can get with the athletes," Huot said. "They can tweet, they update their status on Facebook in a very personal way that gives access to people."

Whether you're in Vancouver or thousands of miles away, whether you have a TV or not, here are seven ways you can get personal with the games.

1. Fans Get 'Face Time' With Athletes on Facebook

So far, at least, it looks like Facebook is in first place when it comes to social media Olympics coverage.

The official IOC page, Facebook.com/OlympicGames, has attracted more than 1.4 million fans with its stream of updates, daily photo contests and an online game that lets users compete virtually in events like snowboard cross and ski jumping.

Through Facebook, fans can also keep up with about 500 athletes and 200 teams.

After snowboarder Shaun White won his gold medal in the men's halfpipe event, he told his more than 1 million Facebook fans, "Whoa! What a night, didn't get to sleep until 1am last night, so excited! Thanks to everyone for all your support, I couldn't of done it without you!!!"

Skier Lindsey Vonn took to Facebook even after a disappointing post-gold medal run. After she crashed in the women's super-combined competition, she posted a message called "mixed emotions" on her Facebook page.

"I am really disappointed that I didn't finish and I lost a chance for gold in one of my strongest events," she wrote. "But on the positive side I was happy to have another solid run in DH and I was also happy with how my SL was going before skiing out."

Huot said those kinds of personal messages have helped push Olympics Facebook activity "through the roof," setting the tone for the 2012 London Olympics.

2. Tweeting Athletes Give 140-Character Olympic Reports

Not to be outdone by Facebook, Twitter too is helping to spread Olympic fever.

To help fans follow their favorite Olympians, the site has created a special page of messages aggregated from verified athletes' accounts. Gold medal figure skater Evan Lysacek, snowboarder Louie Vito and Canadian skier Brad Spence are just a few of the tweeting athletes.

As he continues to rack up medals, speed skater (and prolific tweeter) Apolo Anton Ohno keeps his more than 116,000 followers updated along the way.

"Just finished the medals ceremony. Awesome USA support! Caught the end of our mens USA hockey team put the smack down 2! Nice boys!!!," he wrote after nabbing his seventh medal Sunday night.

But it's not just shop that he talks online.

Presumably hungry after all the intense competition, he tweeted Monday, "Let's talk food..anyone been to Gotham Steakhouse here in vancity? Hy encore?"

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