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Last Updated: Tuesday January 31 2006 17:13 GMT

Winter Olympics lowdown

Cross-country skiing

The Winter Olympics are held every four years, and are a chance for countries from colder parts of the world to show off their sporting abilities.

Norway and Germany have dominated the top places in the medal table at recent Games, unlike the Summer Olympics where the US and China were more successful.

Great Britain hasn't done all that well in the medal table at recent Winter Olympics, picking up five medals in the last three Games.

But hopes are perhaps a little higher this time, with some strong hopes of success in the bobsleigh, skeleton and snowboarding.

Previous Winter Olympics
1924 - Chamonix, France
1928 - St. Moritz, Switzerland
1932 - Lake Placid, US
1936 - Garmisch-Partenkirchen, Germany
1948 - St. Moritz, Switzerland
1952 - Oslo, Norway
1956 - Cortina d'Ampezzo, Italy
1960 - Squaw Valley, US
1964 - Innsbruck, Austria
1968 - Grenoble, France
1972 - Sapporo, Japan
1976 - Innsbruck, Austria
1980 - Lake Placid, US
1984 - Sarajevo, Yugoslavia
1988 - Calgary, Canada
1992 - Albertville, France
1994 - Lillehammer, Norway
1998 - Nagano, Japan
2002 - Salt Lake City, US

The host city for the 2006 Olympic Games - the 20th so far - is Turin in Italy, which was chosen by members of the International Olympic Committee (IOC) in June 1999.

Obviously the Winter Olympics have to take place in a pretty cold place, but organisers in Italy have had to resort to slightly unusual methods to make sure there is enough snow.

Huge machines called snow cannons have been blasting the mountains there with loads of artificial white stuff just in case the weather doesn't bring enough on its own.

The Games begin on 10 February and finish 16 days later. More than 2,500 athletes will be in Turin to take part, competing for a total of 84 medals.

The Olympic mascots for Turin
These slightly strange looking creatures are the Olympic mascots

The Winter Olympics were first held in 1924 in Chamonix in France, and used to take place in the same year as the summer Games.

That changed in 1994 at the Lillehammer Games in Norway, and although the Winter Olympics still take place every four years, they now take place in between Summer Olympic Games.

Winter Olympics 2006






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