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  • Paralympics Close Begin Turin Post-Games Era


    A scene from the closing ceremony of the Turin Paralympics 
    (ATR) The day after has arrived for Turin. A final hail of fireworks Sunday night at the Paralympics closing ceremony marked the end of the city's turn in the spotlight and the official start of the post-Games era for the Piemonte region.

    This month, a smooth-running Paralympics made for a graceful exit from the stage, the show moving on to Vancouver for 2010.

    The two-hour ceremony had a decided rock-bent with performances by Patti Smith and a children's chorus belting Pink Floyd. It was an event that almost didn't happen. Months ago the Paralympics closing ceremony was one of the question marks for Turin organizers, who were still grappling with finding enough money to pay for the Olympics and the Paralympics.

    Finally spared the budget axe, the ceremony in the Piazza Castello medals plaza gave Turin one last chance to savor the moment. A capacity crowd of 10,000 filled the plaza under a dry sky and a temperature of about 5c.

    The ceremony included the transfer of the Paralympics flag from Turin Mayor Sergio Chiamparino to his counterpart in Vancouver, Sam Sullivan. Also taking part in the handover ceremony was Whistler Mayor Ken Melamed. Whistler will host all the competition in 2010, while Vancouver will be the site for opening and closing ceremonies.

    The Torino 2006 Paralympics began March 9 and drew around 500 athletes from 39 nations, most-ever for a Paralympics.

    Record-Setting Paralympics

    The Turin Paralympics have set records for coverage throughout the world. In Japan the Opening Ceremony was watched by 2.4% of the TV audience, which was slightly less than the soccer match broadcast on the same day. In Sweden, 240,000 watched the first competitions on television and in Norway, 350,000 people switch the TV on to watch the Turin games everyday.

    TVs all over the world had more coverage than to all the previous editions. For the first time for the Paralympics the image rights have been bought in all five continents. In addition to television there are also new initiatives for the new media, French TV offered simultaneous live coverage on the Internet and on cell phones. In all there will have been more than 140 hours broadcast from the Torino 2006 Winter Paralympics, with 130 hours live.

    Paralympics Firsts

    *2006 has wheelchair curling on the program for the first time.
    *These are the first
    Canada's Verner and Britain's Briggs fight for the puck during their ice sledge hockey match 
    Paralympic Games at which the new Paralympic symbol, the 'Three Agitos', is being used in the Games emblem.
    *Italy participated in ice sledge hockey for the first time at the Turin Winter Paralympics.
    *It is the first time the factor system has been used in all events in alpine skiing and cross country in a Winter Paralympic competition.
    *Turin are the first Paralympic Winter Games in which athletes raced in three classes in alpine and nordic skiing ? sitting, standing and visually impaired.
    *Gerd Schonefelder became the first athlete to win 17 Paralympic medals.
    *It is the first time two Paralympic Villages have been used
    *ParalympicSport.TV allows the first Internet television broadcast of the Paralympic Winter Games

    The Medals Table

    Final medal standings for the Paralympics: Russia 33, Ukraine 25, Germany 18, France 15, Austria 14, Canada 13, United States 12, Belarus 9, Japan 9, Italy 8.

    In all, 19 nations won medals at the Turin Paralympics.

    The Next Winter Paralympics

    March 12 to 21 in Vancouver and Whistler in 2010.

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