Trip Start Jan 09, 2006
15Trip End May 29, 2006
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Our most vivid memories:
--ski jumpers emerging from dense fog at the tail end of their 130 to 140-meter jumps, as if jumping off that ramp weren't scary enough, all they could sea was a thick soup of fog until a half-second before touch down.
--Czech vs. Canada hockey game. Little did we know so many NHL players were on the ice. We were more impressed with the fanaticism on both sides. Cheerleaders, music, and beer: there must have been some NHL consultant behind all these extras that made hockey games the most "professional" of all events
--Women speed skaters with thighs larger than our torsos. Speeding in pairs against the clock, you could really see how tired even the strongest became as they sprinted 1500 meters.
--Bobsleds rocketing past at 140 km per hour. You have to anticipate the sled based on the low rumbling sound and the crowd's cheer if you hope to get a picture.
Also: the Brazilian team sled capsizing and then sliding back and forth like a pendulum around the low point of the track, helpless for a full minute and right in front our stands. The crowds were hushed as the sled, with its crew's fate unknown, was shielded from public viewing by an olympic drape. Turns out everyone was O.K.; 3 of the 4 Brazilian sleders walked to the finish line, but we later spotted the fourth sleder with an arm sling at the closing ceremonies. No cool runnings this time!
We would definitely attend the Olympics again, it was an incredible experience, but we would do it next time with an organized group. Much of our time was spent figuring out how to get from point A to B, while fighting the crowds to do it
Our Olympic experience was all the more memorable for our stay with the Spano family, who lived 25 km outside Torino in a small town called Avigliana. They made our stay enjoyable and together we invented a new language we called "esperanto" for its mix of butchered Italian, Spanish and French which allowed us to communicate. We arrived at the house late one evening, apologizing if we had woken up anyone. The house was quiet, the lights were off, and the kids were in their pajamas. Tony then led us to our room, and asked if we wanted a little something to eat. When we said yes, he then opened the door to the great room, where about 15 people were eating a huge feast. It turns out that the family made a dinner for the other American guests who were staying at their house, with about 5 courses. Not only did we not wake anyone up, we unknowingly came right in the middle of a party!
With 4 kids, 3 flower shops, and 8 guests to look after, it was always a madhouse, but lots of fun. The family was so accomodating and trusting that they even let us use their car to get around the town (little did we know that there was no public transportation in Avigliana). We are most appreciative to Tony for saving our Olympic experience, as our tickets had not yet arrived in the mail when we got to Avigliana. The morning after we arrived, and the day of our first event, Tony took us to the post office, and managed to convinced them to dig through their piles of mail to find our tickets! Grazie, Tony and family!