2006 Winter Paralympics

In Sports, Wheelin' and Dealin' by Beth Bourgeois

Now that the 2006 Olympic Winter Games have come to a close, the U.S. Olympic Committee and its U.S. Paralympics division are shifting their focus to the 2006 Paralympic Winter Games in Torino, Italy, where 55 of the United States’ most dedicated and talented athletes with physical disabilities will compete from March 10-19.

The 55 Americans will be among approximately 550 men and women from 41 countries competing in four sports: alpine skiing, Nordic skiing, sled hockey and wheelchair curling.

2006 is the first time that wheelchair curling will be contested in the Paralympic Games.

The U.S. Olympic Committee is the only National Olympic Committee (NOC) that also serves as the National Paralympic Committee (NPC).

As a result of this dual role, the 2006 U.S. Paralympic Team will receive the same support and services at the Paralympic Games in Torino as the Olympians did this past month.

“USOC staff have been on the ground in Torino since four weeks before the Olympic Games,” said Joe Walsh, managing director, U.S. Paralympics.

“They have established relationships with the Games organizing committee and numerous local service providers. They have also experienced all of the challenges that arise only once the Games are in progress.

This experience allows us to provide the U.S. Paralympic Team with better support and services than any other National Paralympic Committee. The security, transportation, medical and logistical services will be just as they were during the Olympic Games. No other team will have that level of support.”

The 2006 U.S. Paralympic Alpine Ski Team is currently in Artesina, Italy competing in the IPC Alpine Skiing World Cup Finals through March 3, when they will head to Torino.

The Nordic Skiing, Sled Hockey and Wheelchair Curling Teams will be traveling to Torino, Italy this week.

USOC staff working both Games will get just a couple of days rest as the final Olympic athletes leave Wednesday and the first Paralympic athletes arrive Saturday.

Fresh staff from the U.S. Olympic Committee headquarters in Colorado Springs are already en route to Torino to relieve many of the Olympic staff.

The U.S. team is expected to be among the top nations in performance at the Paralympics.