Friday, January 13, 2006

The Piazza... and you?

From now to the Olympics, we'll be occasionally featuring some generic info and images of Torino 2006: check back often as you won't want to miss any of it.

We'll start with this AP image of the "new" Piazza San Carlo: this baroque square, known as the drawing room of Turin, used to be swamped with cars. It was closed for extensive renovations and reopened in the fall as a decidedly anti-vehicle, pedestrian-friendly public square. All in time for the Olympics, naturally. The Piazza is essentially Turin's food-and-drink mecca, offering many noshing choices including the famed 200-year-old Caffè San Carlo.

If you find your mind wandering to the possibilities of actually hopping on a plane and attending the Games, why not allow yourself such wandering (and wondering)? As reported in the November issue of The Curling News, being there is a truly unreal experience. Sure, it will cost you, but this is the time of year when airlines, travel agents and ticket brokers are looking at their stash of available inventory, and wondering how to move it.

CoSport is the official ticket agent of the Games, and they even have a Canadian office. Reports say that tickets are available for curling ($34 U.S.), biathalon ($42) and early-round women's hockey ($66) to name a few, plus there are "plenty of hotel rooms available."

• Actual curling news? Provincial playdowns continue across Canada this weekend: Northerns in Alberta, Challenge Rounds in Ontario, men's zones in Manitoba etc. There's also another journalist-tries-mysterious-sport-of-curling story here; the Shannon Kleibrink, Jennifer Jones and
Rhona Martin teams are all in Switzerland for Berne's International Damen-Cup women's event; and Wednesday's U.S. PR bonanza – outdoor curling in Central Park – got mentioned way off in Taiwan.

• Just a thought for curling fans to ponder: as frustrated as you may get with stories of bungling in our sport, remember there are many other other daft ideas and executions out there across the entire amateur sport spectrum. Example: downhill skiing. Apparently, this year it sucks to finish first in your final training run on the World Cup circuit, because that gets you the last starting gate on race day. Canada's Erik Guay posted the fastest time in a Swiss World Cup downhill training session yesterday, and didn't slow down at the finish line as so many skiiers have been doing this year. As such, he "inadvertently" earned himself the 30th and final start position for this weekend's race.

Skiiers actually slowing down as they approach the finish line. Think about that for a second. We rockheads may not know much about skiing, but when your top athletes are deliberately braking in their final training run before the big race, you've got some issues.

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