The games of the XX Winter Olympiad were held in Torino, Italy, February 10-26 2006. The games were the second
to be held in Italy, the first being the VII Winter Olympiad held in Cortina D'Ampezzo in 1956.
The Torino games will most likely be remembered as a sign of a shift in power in the world of winter sports,
in many ways. The United States enjoyed an excellent showing, finishing an unprecedented second in overall medal
standings, and Asian nations including China and Japan turned in impressive showings in ice skating, considered
by experts to be a sign of things to come.
Torino, a city of 900,000, became the largest city ever to host the Olympic Winter Games (the previous record holder
was Calgary, Canada, at 600,000). The poeple of Torino put on an extraordinary games, and built the tallest Olympic
Caludron in history. Snowboard cross was introduced as an Olympic sport in Torino, and three nations were represented
for the first time at the winter games.
In sports, Canadian Cindy Klassen medaled in five of the six women's speed skating events. German speed skating
star Claudia Pechstein won gold and silver, becoming the first speed skater to win nine career medals. In skeleton,
Canadian Duff Gibson became the oldest athlete in Winter Olympic history to medal in an individual event.
The Torino games lived up to their slogan "Passion Lives Here", and showed the true spirit of the Olympic games.
American speed skater Joey Cheek donated his bonus from the US Olympic Committee to charity. During the women's cross
country team sprint, the coach of the Norweigan team gave one of his poles to Canadian Sara Renner when hers broke.
The Canadians went on to win silver, while the Norweigans didn't medal. The event was a true expression of Olympic spirit.
For the US, Torino was the well-deserved reward for a complete revival of the winter olympic team. The United States
dominated snowboarding and speed skating, breaking the long-running Dutch domination of Olympic speed skating. Americans
Chad Hedrick, Shani Davis, and Joey Cheek each turned in a gold medal and one additional medal. Hedrick became
only the third American in history to win more than two medals at a winter games.
The US also scored startling upsets, with Ted Ligedy and Julia Mancuso each taking a gold medal in alpine skiing.
Ligedy became the first US man to win an Olympic medal in Alpine skiing in over a decade. The ice dancing duo of
Tanith Belbin and Ben Agosto won the first US ice dancing medal in twenty years, and the only US silver medal in the sport.
In bobsled, Shauna Rohbock and Valerie Fleming won a startling silver for the US, and in both women's parallel snowboard
slalom and men's curling the US won its first medals, both bronze. The overall US medal count came to 25, just four
shy of Germany, the winner of the games.