This day started like day 2. Up at 5:00a and breakfast at 6:00a. We are off to the city of Pinerolo in the morning. This is where the Curling took place. As it would happen, Mark and Kristen would be attending the same events we were attending today, so they would be riding again. That's great because we really enjoyed their company. This day would be one of our more interesting days.
Scheduled events on this day included Men's Curling and 500m Speed Skating Qualifications & Finals.
We headed out around 6:45a to Pinerolo and arrived around 8:00a. At or near every venue they had some kind of parking. It was be located at the venue itself or at a location away from the venue, with shuttle bus service to the venue. Curling was one of the events that advertised parking about 4 kms away from the venue, with shuttle service was provided. We arrived at the location where parking was advertised, but could find none. There were buses in the area, but they were not there to shuttle people to the curling arena. In fact when we asked the drivers about where to park for the Olympic events taking place, they looked at us like they had no idea the Olympics were taking place, and certainly not in their town. We finally managed to get across to them where we wanted to go and they told us that one of the buses was headed that way and we could follow it. We made our way to the venue and found a place to park in a parking lot near the arena.
Upon arriving at the Curling arena, we were greeted by Gliz and Neve. They are the official 2006 Torino Winter Olympic mascots. Gliz is the Blue Block of Ice and Neve is the Red Snowball. They were created to represent Olympic values like Friendship, Fair Play, and the Spirit of Competition.
We made our way inside and found our seats. Actually we could have chosen just about any seat in the house, which we did. We found some seats that had a better view than ours and moved there. Curling is one of those sports that really hasn't caught on yet. On this day, the arena was probably a quarter full. That was fine with us because our chances of getting on TV increased with fewer people there. Curling for those of you that don't know is game played with stones and the object is to get more points than your opponent before the completion of 10 ends. There is always four matches taking place at once. Now isn't that simple. Any questions?
This would be a good day for the US team. They were playing Norway on this day and it was a close back and forth match until the 8th end. With so much concentration and thought being put into every shot by the US, Norway didn't stand a chance. The 8th end is when the US made its move. They scored 5 points and Norway had no choice but to concede. I guess you could say that Norway was stoned out of their minds!
Here are some more pics from our day of Men's Curling. Pictured is a Stone, the US Team, and Stones in the House:
After Pinerolo it was back to Torino again for Speed Skating.
made it back to Torino with no traffic problems, parked, and decided to walk to
the arena since it was a nice
day. Before heading to the arena
though we made a quick detour to check out Olympic Village where all most of the
athletes were staying. There were smaller Olympic Villages in the
mountains for the athletes competing in the mountain events. After the short side trip,
we made it to the Speed Skating arena.
This is where we said goodbye to Mark and Kristen since they would be going in a different direction after speed skating. This was their last day of events and they were sitting in a different section than we were in the stadium and since it was a large arena and expected to be full, we didn't expect to see them afterwards. Although they would not be departing until the following day, we did not expect to see them in the morning. They had planned to sleep in and we would be up again at 5:00a and would be gone when they finally climbed out of bed. We were jealous, because we were already exhausted after just 2 days of events.
Speed Skating event was the 500m race. There would be 36 races in all, 18
in the first round and 18 in the second round, with each racer racing once in
each round. A race consisted of two skaters skating against each other.
Gold, Silver, and Bronze would be determined by the fastest combined times in
the two rounds. The prep area and warm up area for the racers was in the
middle of the rink.
When it was their turn to race, the racers would move to the ice and get ready to skate. The starter got them ready by using verbal commands. He moves them to the line by saying "Go to the Start". Once they are ready he prepares them by saying "Ready" and the next sound you hear is the sound of the gun firing. If someone starts to soon you immediately hear a second shot. Here you can see Joey Cheek in his starting position. It must be a good starting position, because when all was said and done, Joey stood atop the podium. This was the second person we saw claim gold for the United States. The first of course being Shaun White in snowboarding.
Speed Skating is a big event in some countries, in particular the Netherlands and there were many fans in the crowd from many nations. But, probably about 60 percent of the crowd on that day was from the Netherlands. It was easy to see because they were all dressed in orange. The national color of the Netherlands is orange and there was plenty of orange in the crowd that day. Of course there were fans from the USA supporting Team USA. From what we are told, also in the crowd on that day was Tony Blair's wife and son, although we never saw them.
Our seats for this event was amongst a group of Japanese fans. It was great because they were a very friendly bunch and we all had a good time. By the time things had gotten started, we had traded flags and we were cheering for their guys and they were cheering for ours. As it turns out this was the only event they had come to see. They flew over from Japan to attend a 2 day conference in Milan and then came to Torino to see this event and then back to Japan the next day.
But probably our most exciting moment of the day was when we met Shani Davis. He just happened to be sitting about 4 rows in front of where we were sitting. Shani is a US Speed Skater and skates in the 1000m, 1500m, and the 5000m events. He did not fair so well in the 5000m event finishing in 7th place. However he did better in the 1500m taking the silver with Ched Hedrick taking the bronze. His specialty race is the 1000m. He won Gold for the United States in this event and he is also the current World Record holder. He also autographed our Torino Olympic spectator guide for us. Look out Ebay...I don't think so! Oh, and by the way, the orange people you see in the pictures are from, yes you guessed it, The Netherlands.
One other thing of note, there are actually Olympic Cheerleaders. Yes they do exist. They were at more than one of the events that we attended.
We had another exciting day and it was time to get back to the room and get ready for another early start in the morning. This was actually an early night for us. We actually got back to our room around 10:30p.
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