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Last Updated: Sunday, 26 February 2006, 20:27 GMT
Turin highs and lows
By Anna Thompson
BBC Sport at the Winter Olympics

After 16 days of competition and 252 medals dished out to 26 nations in 84 events, the 2006 Winter Olympics in Turin have drawn to a close.

BBC Sport looks back at the highs, lows, spills and thrills of the 20th Winter Games.

HIGHS

Austria's dominance of the alpine skiing events over the much-fancied Americans was a sight to behold with four gold medals and plenty of bronze and silver too.

Great Britain's sole medal winner Shelley Rudman
Shelley Rudman gave the British team something to smile about
Special mention goes to Michaela Dorfmeister, who is retiring at the end of the season. Olympic gold had eluded her until Turin and she proved how much her downhill and super-G golds meant to her by crying her heart out.

Her compatriot Hermann Maier, who missed Salt Lake City four years ago after suffering horrific leg injuries in a motorcycle accident, has battled back to fitness and deserved his silver in the super-G and bronze in the giant slalom.

Shelley Rudman boosted Britain's Winter Olympic medal haul with an unexpected silver in the women's skeleton.

Canada's Cindy Klassen was the woman of the Games with five medals for Canada in speed skating and Germany's Michael Greis took away three biathlon golds to register as man of the 2006 Olympics.

LOWS

It seems no Olympic Games can run without some sort of controversy and the 2006 Winter Olympics will be remembered for a doping saga and a mini skate-gate.

Olga Pyleva
Games silver medallist Olga Pyleva was the only failed drugs test
Russia's Olga Pyleva was stripped of her 15km biathlon silver medal and banned for two years for a positive test.

And 10 Austrian cross-country skiers and biathletes are still being investigated despite testing negative, following a raid sparked by the presence of banned coach Walter Mayer in their camp.

After skate-gate in 2002 forced the ice skating judging system to be completely overhauled, Turin was hoping for no such concerns.

However in the pairs figure skating, China's Zhang Dan/Zhang Hao seemed to take an age to compose themselves after Zhang had suffered a nasty fall in their routine.

Officials insisted she did not exceed the two-minute time limit en route to the silver but others disagreed. However, there was no protest and the result stood.

From a British perspective it was a shame the men's curling team failed to win a medal after losing the semi-final to Finland on the last stone and then the bronze play-off in the final end.

THRILLS

Snowboarding has been a phenomenal success at these Games. Although the men's half-pipe was predictable with teenager Shaun White taking the gold medal, the 19-year-old's sheer talent was amazing.

He landed breathtaking back-to-back 1080s, which is three full spins to the layman, in the final.

Snowboard-cross made its Olympic debut and what a debut it was. The crowds in Bardonecchia could not get enough of the no-holds-barred, winner-takes-all attitude.

And the women's final will long live in the memory. For more on this see "Steve Bradbury moment" below.

SPILLS

There were lots of unfortunate souls who crashed out of their Winter Olympic events but spare a thought for those injured or shaken up during training.

Erben Wannemars of Holland takes a tumble
There were spills and thrills aplenty throughout the Games
In the women's luge, US Virgin Islands' sole representative, Anne Abernathy, who also happens to be the oldest female competitor, broke her wrist during her final training run.

Defending slalom champion, France's Jean-Pierre Vidal, fractured his arm free-skiing a day before his race and had to withdraw.

Ski jumping's double gold medallist from Salt Lake City, Simon Ammann, crashed during practice and, although he was able to perform, he finished well down the rankings.

And in ski aerials, Canada's Jeff Bean somehow managed to land without injuring himself after his skis flew off while he was in the middle of a manoeuvre, some 15 metres off the ground.

SHOCKS

The men's downhill is the blue-riband event of the Winter Olympics and the serious money before the race was on Austrians Michael Walchoffer and Hermann Maier and Americans Bode Miller and Daron Rahlves.

Hardly anyone had paid any attention to Antoine Deneriaz, who was fastest in final training. But the Frenchman, who recovered from knee ligament damage, blitzed the whole field with one of the biggest-ever victory margins.

In the women's figure skating, all eyes were on Irina Slutskaya, the two-time world champion. But the Russian seemed well below her normal level in her free programme and could manage only a bronze after she fell during her routine.

On the other hand, Japan's Shizuka Arakawa's performance was flawless and the 24-year-old, who almost quit the sport after finishing ninth at last year's world championship, leapt from the bronze medal position to clinch gold.

FLOPS

It was all set up for Italy's Giorgio Rocca, who had won five of this season's World Cup slaloms. But gorgeous Giorgio, with bib number one, stumbled out of the men's slalom on his very first run to the gasps of the crowd.

Bode Miller
Bode Miller was left to ponder what might have been in Turin
American skier Bode Miller is not backwards in coming forwards with his views and the two-time medallist from Salt Lake City was promising big things in 2006.

But he left medal-less after competing in all five alpine events, with his best finish fifth in the downhill.

Canada's men's ice hockey team arrived at the Games with a gambling controversy surrounding coach and all-time legend Wayne Gretzky and they left abruptly after losing to Russia in the quarter-finals.

STEVEN BRADBURY MOMENT

Lindsey Jacobellis must still be having nightmares. The American snowboard cross star will unfortunately be remembered for the biggest balls-up of the Olympics to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory.

She had a commanding lead in the snowboard-cross final but for some reason attempted a show-boating trick on the penultimate jump and lost her balance and went crashing to the ground only to see Switzerland's Tanja Frieden sneak past her and take the gold.

I think we can guarantee she won't be trying that trick again in a hurry.

OVERALL VERDICT

The 2006 Games have been a success. There were concerns ahead of the opening ceremony of transport problems, unfinished venues and antipathy from the Italian public with slow ticket sales.

But in true Italian style it all came together and they can be very proud of themselves for staging a memorable Winter Olympics in which sport and passion were the real winners.




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SEE ALSO
Winter Olympics photos
27 Feb 06 |  Photo Galleries


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