Live video coverage
For the first time, live video coverage of the Olympic Games was available on mobile phones. Including delayed programming, mobile operators provided video coverage in eighteen countries on five continents. In another first, regular television viewers in Mongolia and Azerbaijan were able to watch the Winter Games.
Gold for Sweden
The Turin Olympic Games were particularly satisfying for Sweden, which had not won a gold medal at either of the previous two Winter Games. In 2006, Swedish athletes won seven Olympic events: men’s ice hockey, women’s curling, women’s Alpine skiing and biathlon and three in cross-country skiing.
Duff Gibson of Calgary, Canada, switched from bobsleigh to skeleton in 1998 and qualified for the Canadian team in 2002, finishing tenth in Salt Lake City. At the Turin Games he beat everyone, and became the oldest athlete in the history of the Winter Games to win a gold medal in an individual event. On the day he won, he was 39 years and 190 days’ old.
US speed skater Joey Cheek won a gold medal in the 500 metres event and a silver at 1,000 metres. His gold medal earned him a USD 25,000 bonus from the United States Olympic Committee. Cheek donated the money to charity.
Three new participating NOCs
Three NOCs entered the Winter Olympic Games for the first time. Erjon Tola of Albania and Mathieu Razanakolona of Madagascar represented their countries in Alpine skiing, while Robel Teklemariam competed for Ethiopia in cross-country skiing.
On the web
The Turin Games saw sports fans relying more and more on the Internet for results and information and to learn more about the Olympic Movement. The site of the Turin Games Organising Committee, torino2006.org, registered approx. 700 million page views, and the site of the International Olympic Committee, Olympic.org, over 32 million.
The fight against doping
The Torino 2006 Olympic Winter Games witnessed the most stringent anti-doping controls ever. A record 1,219 tests were administered.
The United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) has praised the Torino 2006 Games for its work on the environment. UNEP had signed a protocol with the Organising Committee for the XX Olympic Winter Games – Torino 2006.
The Torino 2006 cauldron is reported to be the tallest cauldron in the history of the Olympic Games. Measuring 57 metres, the cauldron has three segments of 31, 15 and 11 metres respectively.
With a population of more than 900,000, Turin became the largest city ever to host the Winter Olympic Games. The previous record was 600,000 for Calgary in 1988.
Jean-Pierre Vidal missed one-and-a-half years of competition after sustaining a major injury in a fall in March 1999. He came back to win the gold medal in the slalom at the 2002 Salt Lake City Olympic Games, and hoped to defend his title in 2006. But the day before the slalom competition, Vidal went for a pleasure ski to celebrate his 29th birthday, fell, broke his left arm and had to withdraw
Prior to the 2006 Turin Olympic Games, Finland had won 71 medals in cross-country skiing, but not a single one in Alpine skiing. Tanja Poutiainen broke this winless streak when she obtained the silver medal in the last women’s event of the Games, the giant slalom.
Curling in Italy
Curling was not exactly a popular sport in Italy, which qualified for the Olympic tournament only because it was the host country. But Italians, who watched television coverage of curling by the millions, were fascinated by the sport…and particularly by their team’s 22-year-old skip, Jöel Retornaz, with his unusual hairstyle and designer glasses. Italy scored upset victories over possible medallists United States and Canada, but finished in 7th place.
Speed skating added a new event
Speed skating added a new event to its programme: the team pursuit. Two teams composed of three skaters start simultaneously at each side of the track, and the team members take turns “pulling” or leading the team. The skaters who are not pulling follow closely behind the leader to take advantage of the air currents. The team whose third skater crosses the finish line first is the winner.
The exciting sport of snowboard cross was included in the Olympic program for the first time in 2006. Competitors race against each other in groups of four on a course that includes banked turns, jumps and difficult terrain. The first gold medals were won by Seth Wescott of the United States and Tanja Frieden of Switzerland.
10 February 2006, Opening Ceremony of the XXth Olympic Winter Games. Stefania Belmondo prepares to light the Olympic cauldron.
Official opening of the Games by: The President of the Italian Republic Carlo Azaglio CIAMPI
Lighting the Olympic Flame by: Stefania BELMONDO (Cross country Skiing)
Olympic Oath by: Giorgio ROCCA (Alpine Skiing)
Official Oath by: Fabio BIANCHETTI (Skating)