Sunday, February 24, 2002
Italian city prepares for next Winter Olympics
SALT LAKE CITY -- The busiest four years of Evelina
Christillin's life are about to begin, and she can't wait.
"It will be thrilling," said Christillin, deputy president of
the organizing committee for the next Winter Olympics, in Turin,
Italy, in 2006.
Christillin was the force behind the bid that won the games for
the northern Italian city. As the white Olympic flag is passed from
Salt Lake City Mayor Rocky Anderson to Turin Mayor Sergio
Chiamparino at the conclusion of these games, so, too, does the
spotlight shift back to Europe.
"We have looked forward to this moment," said Christillin,
working with a $1.3 billion budget.
She, committee president Valentino Castellini and other
organizers have spent weeks studying the ski slopes and skating
rinks of Utah, picking up planning tips on how to do it four years
down the road.
One thing's certain: Turin will have a much different look, feel
and focus than Salt Lake.
"We will not try to imitate," Christillin said. "We do really
hope to do as well as America. But we are Italians. You are
Americans -- Western Americans. We don't have the wide-open space.
We don't have the hotels or the eight-lane interstate highways into
the mountains as you do. We will have to do some things
Turin is in the Piedmont region of northwestern Italy, on the
banks of the Po River. Like Salt Lake City, the skiing events will
take place in the surrounding mountains, mostly in the Alpine
resort of Sestriere.
But unlike Utah's capital, Turin will have many venues within
the city limits. An old marketplace will be the site of the Olympic
Village. Ice sports will be in town, with a new 12,500-seat arena
for hockey and a remodeled 10,000-seat rink for figure skating and
"The focal point will be the city," Christillin said. "We are
building arenas and halls downtown. I think they will be different
Turin is a centuries-old metropolis of a million people, filled
with baroque churches, restored palaces and 40 museums. The Regio
Theater is a shrine of opera. The main cathedral, the Duomo, houses
the Shroud of Turin, considered by some to be the burial cloth of
Christ. As the home of Fiat, Turin is Italy's Motown.
"It's different than here," Christillin said. "Our culture
and history are everywhere to be seen and will be an important part
of our games."
Turin won the 2006 Games in the first campaign held under strict
new rules imposed in the aftermath of the $1 million scandal
involving the Salt Lake City bid. Christillin chafed under the
restrictions, which barred visits to bid cities by IOC members.
"You cannot just show a person a picture of a restaurant," she
complained at one point before the 1999 vote. In the end, however,
Turin may have benefitted.
Many observers felt Turin was chosen over Swiss bidder, Sion,
because International Olympics Committee member Marc Hodler of
Switzerland was the chief whistleblower in the scandal.
Christillin told the IOC at its general assembly early this
month that changes had to be made to the planned bobsled run in
nearby Oulx because of geological problems found in testing.
IOC review teams have nudged Turin to move faster in some areas
of preparations, although their prods haven't been close to the
dire warnings issued to Athens, which is considered to be behind
schedule in some preparations for the 2004 Summer Games.