The world’s best winter para-athletes gathered in Turin, Italy for the ninth edition of the Paralympic Winter Games in 2006, with the growth of the Games following the trajectory of the past.
The Torino 2006 Paralympic Winter Games took place from March 10-19 and involved 479 athletes (375 men and 99 women) from 39 countries in five sports. A total of 169,974 tickets were sold for Games events – the Sledge Hockey and Wheelchair Curling finals, as well as the Opening Ceremony, were sold.
A record 1,037 media representatives arrived in Turin to cover the Games, and the host broadcaster, International Sports Broadcasting (ISB), provided more than 130 hours of live coverage.
The 2006 Turin Games were many firsts. Wheelchair curling was included in the program for the first time. It was the first time the Paralympic Winter Games were held in Italy. Turin was the first event where the new Paralympic symbol, the “Three Agitos”, was used as the emblem of the Games. Two National Paralympic Committees (NPCs) – Mexico and Mongolia – participated in the Paralympic Winter Games for the first time.
In a first, competitions were also held in three disciplines in Alpine and Nordic skiing – seated, standing and visually impaired. In addition, it was the first time that two Paralympic villages were used to house Games participants.
The IPC launched its online television channel, ParalympicSport.TV, during the Games. Nearly 40,000 unique viewers listened to the channel from 105 countries. Most viewers came from the United States, Italy, Canada, Germany and Japan, and the channel attracted a five percent increase in new viewers each day of the Games. ParalympicSport.TV enabled the first Internet television broadcast of the Paralympic Winter Games.
Competitions were held for 58 medals in five disciplines from four sports. As with other Paralympic Games, medals are awarded for each placing in each event. As wheelchair curling made its Paralympic Games debut, competitions were held in alpine skiing (24 medals), sledge hockey (one medal), biathlon (12 medals) and cross-country skiing (20) .
After 10 days of competition, Russia, for the first time, topped the medal tally with 33 medals – 13 gold, 13 silver and seven bronze. Germany (8-5-5-18) finished second, Ukraine (7-9-9-25) finished third with France (7-2-8 – 15) and USA (7 -2-3-12) completing the top five rank fourth and fifth respectively. A total of 19 countries entered the medal table, sharing 174 medals.
Ukraine’s Olena Iurkovska led the individual performances with four gold, one silver and one bronze. Iurkovska, who has a limb impairment, started sitting volleyball when she was 13, but then switched to paraskiing and biathlon when she was 16 in Kyiv. She won gold in the women’s 2.5 km sit-ski, women’s 5 km sit-ski, women’s 7.5 km sit-ski and 10 km sit-ski.
On the men’s side, Germany’s Gerd Schoenfelder won two gold medals, a silver and a bronze in alpine skiing. But more importantly, he became the first athlete to win 17 medals in alpine skiing. Russia dominated the biathlon event, winning six gold, four silver and two bronze. Canada beat Norway in the final to win the gold medal in sledge hockey.
Overall Turin 2006 was quite successful, especially for Russia, Germany and Ukraine.