February 11, 2006
Italy's Stefania Belmondo lighting the Olympic Cauldron.
With 35,000 people in the seats, and some 2 billion
tuned in around the world, Italian gymnast Yuri Chechi swung a hammer
onto a bronze anvil and the 2006 Olympic Winter Games began.
What a show it was, with 80 national delegations parading
into Stadio Olimpico, the Koreas marching together for the first time in
a Winter Games, and the American team – 211 athletes strong, the largest
delegation here – wearing white leather jackets and expressing a lot of joy
just to be here. While the Mongolians fur hats might have been a highlight
of the Parade, seeing the likes of figure skater Michelle Kwan, skier
Bode Miller, snowboarder Shaun White, and,
of course, flag bearer Chris Witty, told us all that it was time:
the Games are on.
For Italians, likely the proudest moment was when skiing
legend Alberto Tomba, the colorful slalom specialist who won three
golds and two silvers in three Olympics, entered the stadium. He remains
the only skier to win back-to-back golds in giant slalom, which he did in
Calgary and Albertville, and the stadium crowd roared when he entered.
After handing the torch to a relay of prominent Italian Olympians, alpine
skier Deborah Compagnoni turned over the flame to the most decorated
Italian Olympian in history: Stefania Belmondo, who owns ten
career medals in cross-country skiing, including a hat trick – gold, silver,
bronze – in Salt Lake in 2002.
For me, however, the most amazing point of the ceremony
was when the Olympic flag entered Stadio Olimpico in the hands, for
the first time, of eight women, including Oscar-winner and legendary screen
Italian screen idol Sophia Loren; Chilean writer Isabel Allende;
2004 Nobel Peace prize winner Wangari Maathai; actress and Oscar
winner Susan Sarandon, Mozambique Olympic track
champion Maria Mutola, and Cambodian activist Somaly
Mam, who has campaigned relentless against forced prostitution.
And just to chalk up one more for the women? While
Iceland makes it a point to always choose a woman to carry its flag in the
Parade of Nations, China made the move for the first time: short track
skater Yang Yang (A) proudly brought her country’s flag into
the stadium (and yes, the A is part of her name, and it’s a long story).
Considered to be the most celebrated winter sports star in her country’s
history, she won two golds in Salt Lake, China’s first in the Winter Games,
and decided to return to competition after a brief retirement to serve as
a role model for those coming behind her.
So now to Day 1: Saturday, February 11, with competition
in biathlon, pairs figure skating, moguls, hockey, luge, Nordic combined,
ski jumping, and the debut of American Chad Hedrick on the speed
skating oval. Game on.
H A V E A
Q U E S T I O N F O R D R . B A S S
D U R I N G T H E W I N T E R G A M E S ?
C L I C K H E R E
We will be
posting the questions and answers
on the CNR
At The Winter Games website!
m o r e
Be sure to check back often for Dr. Amy
Bass's updates to her
Online CNR Winter Olympic Games Diary.
O F F I C E O F C O M M U N I
C A T I O N S
29 Castle Place, New Rochelle, NY 10805
© 2006 The College of New Rochelle