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  • On the Scene: Championships a Success


    Award ceremony at the European Figure Skating Championships.(ATR Photos) 
    (ATR) The most important test event before the 2006 Olympics ended in defeat for the host country. But Olympic officials said the 2005 European figure skating championship was a resounding success.

    Organizers said the venue was sold out every day from January 25 to 30 and that 70,000 spectators attended overall. The 8,500-seat Palavela was consistently full, with Italian fans cheering loudly, and a sizeable contingent from other European nations.

    "We can be very satisfied," said Roberto Montabone, the president of Torino Ice 2005, the brand that groups all Olympic test events. During a press conference on January 30, Montabone said that only "a few kinks" need to be ironed out before the venue is ready for the games.

    Never mind, then, that no Italians made it anywhere near the podium.

    Russia made a clean sweep of the gold medals with Evgeni Plushenko (men), Irina Slutskaya (women), Tatiana Totmianina and Maxim Marinin (pairs) and Tatiana Navka and Roman Kostomarov (ice dancing).

    Fans had come from as far away as Israel to cheer several athletes from the Mideastern nation including Galit Chait and Sergei Shaknovski, fourth in ice dancing. Several Israeli flags hanging from the Palavela walls testified to skatingâ??s newfound popularity there, mostly because of Russian immigration.

    Icy weather in Turin, with temperatures constantly at 0 degrees Celsius during the day and a serious wind chill, did not dampen their spirits. While a freezing climate is normal in the mountain venues, meteorologists noted that such cold in Turin is uncommon.