2006-02-10 / Sports

Turin 2006 Winter Olympics Preview

By Joe McDonald

It’s hard to believe it has been four years since the torch was extinguished in Salt Lake City, but the Winter Olympics are upon us again.

As the athletes gather in Turin, Italy over the next two weeks, the world will be treated to some of the most amazing sports moments it will see this year. And, even though, there won’t be moments as poignant like the 1980 Miracle on Ice this year, heroes will be made and some unknown athlete will become a household name before these two weeks are up.

Oh, there will be controversy for sure; there always is. Whether it’s the Tonya Harding/Nancy Kerrigan incident in 1994, the U.S. hockey team disgrace in Nagano, to the figure skating judging scandal four years ago, there is always something that takes headlines.

But it’s mostly about the games and the Winter Games give the sports viewing world unique and specialized events that when they are over will are not seen again until the flame lights in Vancouver in 2010.

Let’s take a look at some of the sports that will be played in Turin:

Alpine Skiing: What’s not to like about the purity of the downhill? Four years of training and one time down the mountain. Screw up and see you in 2010. But there are 10 events to medal in [five mens and five womens] and Bode Miller, Daron Rahives, Ted Ligety, Julia Mancuso, Kristina Koznick and Lindsey Kildow all have chances to medal for the U.S.

Biathlon: Don’t expect an American medal, but how can anyone not like a sport that combines cross country skiing and shooting things.

Bobsled: Come on, admit it. The only reason you watch is to see a bobsled overturn. The U.S. has a chance in the men’s four man. And if that is not wild enough for you…

Luge: Why do it in a 500 lb bobsled, when you can take the old radio flyer down the course? Tony Benshoof could win a medal, as can the team of Mark Grimmette and Brian Martin. And if that is not scary enough for you, we have…

Skeleton: Why not do it head first? Eric Bernotas is the U.S. best hope.

Hockey: If Baseball did the World Baseball Classic in the middle of the season, it would be more interesting. A bunch of stacked NHL All-Star teams competing for gold. True it will never have the impact of 1980, but those days are long gone. Prediction: Gold: Czech Republic, Silver: Canada, Bronze: Russia, US: Fifth

Speed Skating: Track on ice and the U.S. will medal in numerous events.

Curling: Gets a bad rap for being a boring sport. Well it is and probably won’t be covered. No American prospects.

Ski Jumping: No chance for the U.S. but interesting to watch for the “agony of defeat” moments.

Snow Boarding: X-Treme sport and the U.S. team is stacked. But how many athletes will be tossed for smoking illegal substances?

Figure Skating: Ok already controversy with Michelle Kwan granted a spot and knocking off Emily Hughes – 2002 gold medallist Sarah’s sister. But this is Sasha Cohen’s time to shine and if all goes well will get the gold. Jimmy Weir, Evan Lysacek and Kimmie Meissner are also skaters to watch for the U.S.

Cross Country and Nordic Combined: No U.S. prospects and probably won’t get that much coverage from NBC.

There you have it and there will be a surprise or two over the next fortnight, and it will be exciting.

So let the games begin.

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