In 2006 the Olympic Winter Games returned to Italy, 50 years after Cortina D' Ampezzo. Torino and the surrounding mountain resorts of Sestriere and Bardonecchia hosted a remarkable Games.
Both ceremonies were captivating and the medal plaza and piazzas throughout the city were full of colour and excitement.
Cross country skier Stefania Belmondo lit the flame and alpine hero Giorgio Rocca gave the Athletes' Oath. Read more >>>
Australia at the Games
Australia sent its largest ever team of 40 athletes qualified across 10 sports. The team produced many sensational performances including a gold to Dale Begg-Smith in the moguls and a bronze to Alisa Camplin in aerials.
Begg-Smith was the world number one coming into Torino and produced his very best when it mattered most. He qualified in top spot and as the last skier down the course he blazed the moguls and took the gold from Finland’s Mikko Ronkainen. His speed and form on the turns were superior to the rest of the world.
Camplin’s bronze in the aerials was a remarkable testament to the enormous competitive abilities which also brought her gold in Salt Lake City four years earlier. Just to be at the Games four months after her knee reconstruction was as an amazing effort, but to win a medal was simply stunning.
There were a number of other outstanding performances that built the growing reputation of Australia as a competitive winter sports nation.
Torah Bright’s fifth in snowboard halfpipe, Damon Hayler’s seventh in snowboard cross, the sixth placing of the short track relay team and the eighth of Jacqui Cooper in women’s aerials were all brilliant. Cooper’s extraordinary world record in aerials qualifying cemented her amongst the world’s best ever.
The number of team members who recorded top 16 finishes was also high. Astrid Loch-Wilkinson and Kylie Reed, Australia’s first Olympic women’s bobsleigh representatives did an outstanding job to finish 14th. Nick Fisher (12th in freestyle moguls), Manuela Berchtold (14th in freestyle moguls), Emanuel Oppliger (15th in snowboard PGS), Michelle Steele (13th in skeleton) and Emily Rosemond (12th in 1000m short track), all demonstrated the growing depth of our team’s performances across a range of sports.
As with any team there are disappointments. However, the devastating injury to aerial skier Lydia Lassila (then Ierodiaconou) in qualifying rocked the team. She was a strong medal hope and was jumping superbly. Her battle to get to the Games was well known having undergone an allograft knee reconstruction just eight months out from the Games. She looked a certainty to qualify for the final until her knee gave way on her second jump. It was a horrific injury and devastating for her yet she came out the next night to cheer on her fellow athletes and vowed to be in Vancouver in 2010.