10 Things to KnowAbout Turin
The city is home to Italy's biggest car manufacturer, whose name is an acronymfor Fabbrica Italiana Automobili Torino (literally, Italian Automobile Factoryin Turin). Alfa Romeo and Lancia, both Fiat subsidiaries, are also basedhere.
2 THE MOLEANTONELLIANA
Built to be a synagogue but now a film museum (Italy's movie industry began inTurin), the nearly 550-foot-tall domed edifice, topped by a spire, towers abovethe city and is the official symbol of these Olympics.
3 THE SHROUD OFTURIN
Believed by some to be the burial cloth of Jesus, it is stored in theCattedrale di San Giovanni Battista.
In 218 B.C. the Carthaginian general (and his 37 elephants) marched over theAlps near the Olympic downhill venue in Sestriere and destroyed what is nowTurin.
The Turin soccer club, known for its black-and-white-striped uniforms, is themost successful in Italian history, with 28 national titles.
The city has 163 of these open squares, whose look was incorporated in Olympicvenue design.
You like coffee? This brand is manufactured in Turin.
Italy's longest river runs along the city's eastern edge.
Left-leaning; Italy's Communist party was founded by a Turin native in1921.
10 THE ITALIANJOB
Rent the 1969 original, filmed in Turin, to see car chases on the roofs of whatare now the figure skating arena and the main press center.
SO IS IT TURIN ORTORINO?
Turin is the Anglicized version of the Italian name, Torino--just as Rome is ofRoma and Florence is of Firenze. NBC is using the sexier-sounding Torino butisn't likely to start referring to past host cities as Athinai (the Greek namefor Athens) or M√ºnchen (the German name for Munich).
ARE THERETERRORISM FEARS?
Yes, but no specific threats. Turin has spent $107 million on security; SaltLake City spent $310 million in 2002 and Athens $1.4 billion in 2004.
WHO'LL BE THE U.S.'S BREAKTHROUGH STARS?
If you exclude past medalists and familiar names such as Sasha Cohen, the topcandidates include long-track speedskaters Shani Davis and Chad Hedrick,snowboarders Gretchen Bleiler, Lindsey Jacobellis and Shaun White, and icedancers Tanith Belbin and Ben Agosto.
HOW WILL MICHELLEKWAN FARE?
Her free pass onto the U.S. team after an injury-plagued season puts her underextreme pressure to justify her selection. Winning a medal would be a crowningfeat.
WHO'LL LIGHT THETORCH?
The favorites are three-time Alpine skiing gold medalists Deborah Compagnoniand Alberto Tomba, 10-time cross-country skiing medalist Stefania Belmondo andItaly's '94 gold-medal-winning men's 40K cross-country relay team. The guesshere: Tomba.
These long shotswill win fans' hearts, if not any medals.
ANNE ABERNATHY,U.S. Virgin Islands, luge. Known as Grandma Luge, the 52-year-old, who was bornin Florida but maintains her permanent residence on St. Thomas, will becompeting in her sixth Games--and will be the oldest female Winter Olympianever.
SHIVA KESHAVAN,India, luge. The former University of Florence student, whose mother isItalian, placed 28th in Nagano in 1998 as a 16-year-old and finished 33rd inSalt Lake City in '02.
ISAAC MENYOLI,Cameroon, cross-country skiing. The 33-year-old architect, who now lives inMilwaukee, finished 65th in the 1.5K sprint in Salt Lake City.
PRAWAT NAGVAJARA,Thailand, cross-country skiing. The 47-year-old professor of computerengineering at Drexel was 66th in the 1.5K sprint in 2002 but dropped out ofthe 30K pursuit because of cramping.
KWAMENKRUMAH-ACHEAMPONG, Ghana, Alpine skiing. Born in Glasgow, Scotland, but raisedin Ghana, the 31-year-old, known as the Snow Leopard, took up the sport threeyears ago while working at an indoor ski center in England.
ROBEL TEKLEMARIAM,Ethiopia, cross-country skiing. The 31-year-old moved to the U.S. in 1983 whenhis mother took a job at the U.N. He learned to ski at a boarding school inLake Placid, eventually earning an athletic scholarship to New Hampshire.
In snowboardcross,packs of four boarders race down a 700-meter (.43-mile) course. Nate Holland(far left) and women's favorite Lindsey Jacobellis are among the Americanriders to watch.
Look for a few newfaces during the record 418 hours of coverage on NBC and its sister networks,including two-time women's hockey medalist Cammi Granato, who will do colorcommentary for that sport, and former soccer star Julie Foudy, who will be anNBC Sports Desk reporter.
BOBSLED: 88 mph
LUGE: 85 mph
SKELETON: 82 mph
SKI JUMPING: 70 mph
DOWNHILL SKIING: 50 mph
LONG-TRACK SPEEDSKATING: 38 mph
CROSS-COUNTRY SKIING: 17 mph
CURLING (velocity of the rock): 5 mph
OLE EINARBJORNDALEN, Norway, biathlon. With five career gold medals in just twoOlympics, he is a good bet to at least tie the Winter Games record of fellowNorwegian Bj√∏rn Daehlie, a cross-country skier with eight golds. (Bj√∏rndalenwon four golds in Salt Lake City alone.)
JANICA KOSTELIC,Croatia, Alpine skiing. A triple gold medalist in Salt Lake City and thecurrent World Cup overall leader, she could be the first woman Alpiner to winfour career golds. If she makes the podium in downhill, she'll be the firstskier to have won medals in all five Alpine disciplines.
TODD HAYS, U.S.,bobsled. The World Cup two-man and four-man leader could win America's firstmen's bobsled gold since 1948.
Here's a sampling of the bonuses that countries will give to athletes who winan individual gold medal.
ITALY: $157,385 (130,000 Euros)
CZECH REPUBLIC: $42,762 (1 million koruna)
JAPAN: $25,582 (3 million yen)
SWITZERLAND: $15,587 (20,000 Swiss francs)
AUSTRALIA: $7,512 (10,000 Australian dollars)
Turin Games II
In March the ninthWinter Paralympics will bring 534 athletes from 41 countries to Turin tocompete in Alpine skiing, cross-country skiing, biathlon, wheelchair curlingand ice-sledge hockey, in which players such as the U.S.'s Alexi Salamone(left) sit on small, two-blade sleds and propel themselves with thespike-tipped tops of their hockey sticks.
NEVE (left) andGLIZ represent two essentials of Winter Olympic sports: snow and ice. Thesnowball- and ice-cube-headed creatures, designed by Pedro Albuquerque ofPortugal, were chosen after an international competition.
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