Background to the Games

The Torino 2006 Paralympic Winter Games was the 9th Winter Paralympics and took place in Italy, from the 10th to the 19th March 2006. Turin was awarded the Winter Olympic games in June 1999 at the 109th International Olympic Committee (IOC) Session in Seoul, South Korea. Six cities made candidacies with only Torino and Sion shortlisted and voted upon by the full IOC Session.  Voting was quick, with one round deciding the winner. Torino was selected as surprise winner over favourites Sion, Switzerland with 59 of the 95 votes.

It was reported at the time that the result may have been influenced by anti-Swiss sentiment after Swiss delegate, Marc Hodler, accused IOC members of taking bribes during the bidding for the 2002 Games awarded to Salt Lake City. An accusation that had led to ten IOC members being expelled or resigning.   

This was to be Italy’s first hosting of a Paralympic Winter Games and 2nd Winter Olympics, the 1st being at Cortina d'Ampezzo in 1956.

The Torino 2006 organising committee were committed to both 'A challenge beyond sport' and a 'Games for everyone'. Positive legislation was in place in Italy to support the rights of people with disability to access spaces and overcome architectural barriers. However, Piemonte Regional Council were concerned many places including stations, parks and public buildings were still inaccessible.  In 2002 they launched Progetto Piemonte 2006 and Piemonte per Tutti (translated as 'Piemonte for All') to ambitiously tackle architectural barriers to access and ensure equal opportunities for people with reduced or limited mobility across all venues, the region and routes within Italy to Piemonte.  

By the time the Games started, they were very proud of what they had achieved and described Piemonte as,

One of the most hospitable and accessible regions (in Italy) to disabled people, tourists and athletes.

All sites were without architectural barriers and had free entrance for disabled people. Torino 2006 is recognised as a Games with a very successful regional legacy. 

On the 20th anniversary of Torino 2006, the event will return to Italy, as Milan and Cortina d'Ampezzo host the 14th Paralympic Winter Games in March 2026. 

Torino or Turin

To speakers of the regional Piedmontese language and English speakers worldwide, the host city is generally known as Turin but, for the first time, the International Olympic Committee (IOC) used a non-anglicised name, Torino. Representatives of the city had asked for it to be known as Torino, the name used by Italians, saying it gave a more Italian identity to the city and is more phonetically pleasing.

The build-up to the Games

Logo

Logo of the Torino 2006 Paralympic Winter Games

The three symbols at the top of the emblem represent human figures in a soaring motion, capturing energy, joy and the desire to reach ever higher. 

Below the text, the newly introduced IPC logo for the Paralympics was used for the very first time for a Paralympic emblem. The IPC logo is formed of three coloured 'agitos' encircling a single point. Agito, means 'I move' in Latin, and is a symbol of movement.  The colours represent the most common colours of the world’s flags and were interpreted for Torino as blue for snow and ice, green for the Italian landscape and red for passion, an expression of vitality, enthusiasm and willpower.

Slogan

'Passion lives here' La passione vive qui

Changes to Events

For the first time at a Winter Paralympics, the sport of wheelchair curling was included in the programme and athletes raced in three classes in alpine and nordic skiing - sitting, standing and visually impaired.

The games introduced a mathematical factor system, which had been adopted by the International Paralympic Committee (IPC) in 2004, across all alpine skiing and cross-country events. The system, allowing skiers with different impairments to compete against each other on a level playing field and at a very elite competitive level, in simple terms, provides a weighting, similar to a golf handicap

Venues

  • Olympic Grande Torino Stadium
    A multi-purpose stadium built in the 1930s for the Littoriali Games (student sport and culture games), it was originally dedicated to Mussolini. It was renovated in 2006 with designs by Giovanni Cenna Architect and Arteco and today it is the home ground of Torino Football Club.
    Spectator capacity - 25,300.
    Used for the opening ceremony.
  • Piazza Castello
    A UNESCO World Heritage site, the name of this Torino city square stems from the fact that it surrounds a castle.
    Spectator capacity 8,500.
    Used for the closing ceremony.
  • Torino Esposizioni
    An exhibition hall built in 1949 it was temporarily converted to an ice rink for the Games.
    Spectator capacity – 5,800.
    Used for Para ice hockey.
  • Pinerolo Palaghiaccio
    Spectator capacity - 2,085.
    Used for wheelchair curling.
  • Pragelato Plan (elevation 1,540m)
    Built for the Torino 2006 Games.
    Spectator capacity 8,000.
    Used for biathlon, cross-country skiing.
  • Sestriere Borgata (elevation 1,750m)
    Since the 1930s Sestriere was a major Italian ski resort.
    Spectator capacity - 8,400.
    Used for alpine skiing.

Mascot

Mascot for the Torino 2006 Paralympic Winter Games, Aster the snowflake

© International Paralympic Committee (IPC)

Aster the snowflake, was the mascot of the Torino 2006 Paralympic Winter Games. Designer Pedro Albuquerque, used the complexity and uniqueness of a snowflake to represent the unique and original way individuals practice sport and athletes participate at the very highest level in their fields.

The Paralympic Flame

The Torino 2006 Paralympic torch was designed and manufactured by Pininfarina. The design was a modern interpretation of a traditional wooden torch, so the torch appeared as having caught alight and to be burning. The design took inspiration from the tip of a ski and the Mole Antonelliana, Torino’s major landmark building. 125 torches were produced for the Paralympics. The design won the 'Lorenzo il Magnifico' award, the highest prize from the Florence Biennale of Contemporary Art.

The Paralympic flame was lit on the 1st March under the Arch of Constantine in the Coliseum, Rome. Three people, a winner from the Rome 1960 Paralympic Games, a current athlete and a young person with disabilities were symbolically brought together. It was then received by the Mayor of Torino, Sergio Chiamparino, at the Piazza della Repubblica. 

Over the next 10 days, 150 torchbearers took part in the torch relay, taking the flame to venues and landmarks across Piemonte and Torino including to an altitude of 4,554 meters at Monte Rosa (Europe’s second highest mountain peak). The torchbearers, with alpine guides, reached the Carpanna Margherita refuge on Monte Rosa by helicopter, where they donated a book at the highest library in Europe, before the guides skied back to the valley with the torch.  On the 8th March the torch began a route through Torino before arriving at the Torino Olympic Stadium for the Opening Ceremony.

The opening ceremony

The opening ceremony of the Games was held on March 10, 2006, in the Torino Olympic Stadium. It had an audience of 25,000 and was broadcast live to millions of viewers around the world. 

The theme of the ceremony was overcoming limitations and a celebration of all those who do not surrender.  Barriers were symbolically or physically broken within performances and actors, dancers, musicians and volunteers who were both able-bodied and disabled took part. 

The ceremony was divided into nine parts:

  1. Our Games.
    A film explaining the overall story and highlighting key points of the event.
  2. History of an Idea.
    The President of the International Paralympic Committee (IPC) and other dignitaries were greeted by skaters and flag-wavers.
  3. Differences among Equals.
    This involved performances by drummers, dancers and others.
  4. Beyond all Limits, Beyond all Barriers.
    Messages were delivered to the crowd by a visually impaired young athlete and Paula Fantato, an Italian Paralympic and Olympic archer.
  5. Athletes’ Parade.
    The athletes from the 38 competing countries entered the stadium.
  6. The Music of the Heart.
    This section told a story about athletes worldwide.
  7. Forty Nations, a Single Voice. (Although only 38 countries were competing). 
    The official speeches and the Games were officially opened by Carlo Azeglio Ciampi, President of the Italian Republic before the Paralympic flag was brought in and athletes’ and officials’ oaths were taken.
  8. The Shape of the Flame.
    The Paralympic flame arrived and the cauldron was lit by Silvia Battaglio, a visually impaired child and Aroldo Ruschioni, who competed in 4 summer Paralympic sports in the 1960s.
  9. The Sound of Light.
    The closing combined fire and music, acclaiming the perfection of all athletes.

During the Games

474 athletes (375 men and 99 women) from 38 countries participated in 58 medal events across five sports, Para alpine skiing, Para biathlon, Para cross-country skiing, Para ice hockey and wheelchair curling. 165,974 spectators attended the games, with the opening ceremony broadcast to millions of viewers across the world.  Mexico and Mongolia, competed for the first time and wheelchair curling made its first appearance, attracting large audiences.  

Athletes and officials stayed across two locations. Alpine skiing, cross-country skiing and biathlon athletes were accommodated in the Paralympic village in Sestriere.  Ice sledge hockey and wheelchair curling athletes stayed in the Paralympic village in Torino. The Paralympic villages provided athletes and their guides accessible and comfortable areas to socialise and prepare for the Games.

The Paralympic Village in Torino was situated in an area near the former Fiat Lingotto factory, made famous when the rooftop test track featured in the car chase of the film, The Italian Job, in 1969. At the centre of the complex was a restored historic market, the Mercati Generali (General Markets), built in 1934, and the village included a shopping centre, relaxation area, gyms, two restaurants, medical and massage rooms.

The Paralympic Village in Sestriere, built for the Games, is at an altitude of 2,000 metres and about 120 km from Torino. It was located in the heart of the mountain town, using two existing tower blocks and a building named ‘Mariani,’ built purposely for the Games. The complex operated 24 hours a day and was completely accessible.

The Medals

Medal from the Torino 2006 Paralympic Games 

Medals featured the new IPC logo, approved in 2003, for the first time, the three Agitos with 'IPC' above them and a pictogram of the sport for which the medal was won. 

The rims, in gold, silver or bronze, are inscribed with 'IX. Paralympic Winter Games' in both Italian and English.

Medal ceremony at the Torino 2006 Winter Paralympic Games

Medal awards ceremony © Ian Brittain

Medal statistics

Great Britain entered a team of 20 athletes, finishing 17th in the medal table with one silver medal in the newly introduced wheelchair curling. 

Prominent British Paralympic athletes

Three athletes competed in Alpine skiing.  Russell Docker and Sean Rose in sitting events and Liz Miller as a standing skier.  Sean Rose and Liz Miller took top ten places.  Rose came sixth in the men's sitting downhill, 0.7 seconds outside of a medal position.

A team of 12 athletes entered ice sledge hockey (Nathan Stephens, Richard Whitehead, Simon Berry, Mark Briggs, Gary Farmer, David French, Matt Lloyd, Ian Warner, Karl Nicholson, Stephen Thomas, Philip Saunders and Russell Willey), the team was ranked 7th overall.

A team of five competed in wheelchair curling. The team included Frank Duffy (skip), Ken Dickson, Tom Killin, Angela Malone and Michael McCreadie, coached by Tom PendreighThe team had won the 2005 World Championships for Scotland in Glasgow and were medal hopefuls. They received the same preparation as the Olympic Curling team and received funding from the National Lottery and Scottish Institute of Sport. As finalists they were beaten by Canada, and took silver to a fully packed arena at Pinerolo Palaghiaccio.

GB Curling Team at 2006 Torino Winter Games

The GB wheelchair curling team © Getty Images

  • Frank Duffy
    Having started curling at the age of 12, Frank was recognised as a very skilful curler before an accident at work left him wheelchair dependant when he was 35. He was very enthusiastic when wheelchair curling started in Scotland. At the World Championships of 2002 and the Bonspiel of 2003, he received the 'Sportsmanship Award'. In January 2005 he was honoured with the IPC award of Athlete of the Month, having been selected from the international community of athletes representing all sports. As recognised by Scottish Disability Sport,

Frank was a wonderful ambassador for the sport and led teams well and contributed so much to the development of the sport both nationally and internationally.  

  • Michael McCreadie
    Competing in his 6th Paralympics, he was a former competitor in swimming, bowls and basketball and bronze medallist in lawn bowls in 1976.
  • Tom Killin
    Tom won medals for Scotland and Great Britain in table tennis, basketball and as a wheelchair fencer. Silver in Men’s Epee Team and Men’s Sabre Team at the Arnhem 1980 Paralympic Games and bronze in Men’s Sabre Team at the New York/Stoke Mandeville 1984 Paralympic Games. Introduced to wheelchair curling at the Braehead Club in 2003, only three years later he was part of the silver medal winning team at the Torino 2006 Games, going on to compete at both the Vancouver 2010 and Sochi 2014 Paralympic Winter Games.
  • Angela (Angie) Malone
    Angie had first tried wheelchair curling in 2003 at the Braehead Wheelchair Curling Club and was part of the winning World Championship team in both 2004 and 2005 before going on to compete in 4 successive Paralympic Winter Games. Angie’s contributions to wheelchair curling were recognised with an MBE in the Queen’s Birthday Honours list in 2017. 

Media coverage at the event

Record levels of media coverage took place at the games, with 1,037 written press, photographers, rights holding broadcasters and non-rights holding broadcasters attending. Host provider (International Sports Broadcasting, ISB) delivered over 130 hours of live coverage, while some European Broadcasting Union (EBU) broadcasters extended coverage across internet streaming and mobile technology. 

For the first time the IPC launched their own 'free to view' internet TV service for global audiences www.ParalympicSport.TV was sponsored by VISA and Samsung and broadcast 150 plus hours of live sport. It attracted nearly 40,000 unique viewers, with audiences from over 100 countries and highest viewing figures in USA, Italy, Canada, Germany and Japan. 

ParalympicSport.TV (PSTV) had five key objectives –

  • To create a sustainable global media platform to reach out to current and potential fans.
  • To turn the weakness caused by a lack of mainstream media coverage into a strength as PSTV is often the only coverage available.
  • To satisfy additional demand in areas where only limited coverage is available.
  • To communicate IPC’s vision.
  • To make coverage easily accessible in order to allow for maximum exposure.

The IOC choice of Torino, over Turin, split the media, with American media, including NBC, CBS and USA Today used Torino, while others, including Associated Press, the New York Times, the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation and the BBC used Turin.

The closing ceremony

The closing ceremony took place in Piazza Castello on the 19th March 2006.  The theme was springtime, and the transition from the dark and cold of winter to a time of warmth and excitement. This was a metaphor for the change experienced by Torino as host to the Olympics and Paralympics. Three hundred artists from Torino took part in the ceremony. 

Ukrainian athlete Olena Iurkovska and Lonnie Hannah from the United States were awarded the Whang Youn Dai Achievement Prize, to recognise Paralympic athletes that have used their lives beyond sporting performances to inspire and excite the world.

References

  • From Stoke Mandeville to Sochi: A history of the Summer and Winter Paralympic Games (Brittain, I, 2012
  • http://curlingtoday.blogspot.com/2007/08/pendreigh-is-head-wheelchair-curling.html
  • http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/sport/373400.stm
  • http://news.bbc.co.uk/sport1/hi/other_sports/disability_sport/4428162.stm
  • http://news.bbc.co.uk/sport1/hi/other_sports/disability_sport/4776988.stm
  • http://torinofc.it/en/stadio/1945
  • http://torinofc.it/en/stadio/2001
  • http://whangaward.org/en/award/purpose-of-prize
  • http://www.leolimpiadiditalia.it/torino-esposizioni.html
  • http://www.paralympicgames.torino2006.org/ENG/ParalympicGames/bin/page/C_6_page_eng_111_paragraphs_paragrafo_0_attachments_allegato_2_object.pdf
  • https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Great_Britain_at_the_2006_Winter_Paralympics#Wheelchair_curling
  • https://paralympics.org.uk/athletes/angie-malone-mbe
  • https://ski-europe.com/resorts/sestriere/
  • https://web.archive.org/web/20070220062806/http://www.piemontepertutti.it/
  • https://web.archive.org/web/20070221050432/http://www.paralympicgames.torino2006.org/ENG/ParalympicGames/vieni_a_torino2006/villaggi.html
  • https://web.archive.org/web/20070222055223/http://www.paralympicgames.torino2006.org/ENG/ParalympicGames/vieni_a_torino2006/giochi.html
  • https://web.archive.org/web/20070226171746/http://www.paralympicgames.torino2006.org/ENG/ParalympicGames/bin/page/C_6_page_eng_111_paragraphs_paragrafo_0_attachments_allegato_2_object.pdf
  • https://www.atlasobscura.com/places/fiat-lingotto-factory
  • https://www.cbsnews.com/news/you-say-turin-oh-i-say-torino/
  • https://www.nationalgeographic.com/news/2006/2/turin-torino-italy-olympics/
  • https://www.nytimes.com/1999/06/20/sports/olympics-italy-lands-winter-games-in-2006-in-turin.html
  • https://www.olympic.org/news/firsts-at-the-torino-2006-paralympic-winter-games
  • https://www.olympic.org/news/how-turin-was-transformed-by-hosting-an-olympic-winter-games
  • https://www.olympic.org/news/torino-2006-the-olympic-villages-open-as-the-games-approach
  • https://www.olympic.org/news/torino-2006-the-paralympic-flame-is-lit-in-rome
  • https://www.olympicgr.com/torino-2006-paralympic-torch
  • https://www.paralympic.org/news/explaining-alpine-skiing-s-factor-system
  • https://www.paralympic.org/sites/default/files/document/120209105953155_2012_02+Paralympic+Torch+Relay.pdf
  • https://www.paralympic.org/torino-2006
  • https://www.paralympic.org/torino-2006/mascot
  • https://www.paralympic.org/torino-2006/opening-ceremony
  • https://www.paralympic.org/torino-2006/results/medalstandings
  • https://www.paralympicheritage.org.uk/Handlers/Download.ashx?IDMF=c27fe283-ef8d-4d60-be91-fea89bca47e3
  • https://www.pps.org/places/turin-historical-center
  • https://www.scottishdisabilitysport.com/angie-malone/
  • https://www.scottishdisabilitysport.com/frank-duffy/
  • https://www.scottishdisabilitysport.com/tom-killin/
  • https://www.sportcal.com/News/PressReleases/68571?size=25%2C25
  • https://www.thsestriere.it/en/