On Friday, February 10th, 2006, the 2006 XX Winter Olympics began in Torino, Italy. Torino (Turin in English) is approximately 90 miles east of Milan. Fifteen sports -- the biathlon, bobsled, curling, ice hockey, figure skating, cross-country skiing, Nordic combined, luge, speed skating, short track, Alpine skiing, Freestyle skiing, ski jumping, skeleton and snowboarding -- will be showcased by athletes from around the world from February 11th to the 26th. On February 10th, a primary star of the show was the group of creators who brought Italy to the United States. The Opening Ceremony was broadcast in America by NBC Universal. The team who produced the four hour production, especially, the first six minute introduction to Italy, deserves an Emmy along with major accolades.
I wish anyone in the world with a television could have watched and heard NBC television introduce America to Torino, Italy.
Brian Brown and Mark Levy deserve much of the credit for setting the stage and the tone for NBC's Olympic coverage. The pair devoted the majority of their time as producers to their six-minute "opening". And you could tell. Absolutely amazing. I had tears streaming down my face from start to finish.
Andre Braugher, the critically-acclaimed, Emmy award-winning actor who plays Det. Francis Xavier "Frank" Pembleton on "Homicide: Life on the Street" and in the upcoming show "Thief" served as their narrator.
We kept asking, "Who is that?"
If you asked the same question, now you know.
NBC's Olympic Team Creative Director Mark Levy and Brian Brown, the poetic genius, did a magnificent job showcasing Torino to all those watching in America.
Torino, a beautiful Italian city is often lost in the shadows of Rome, Florence, Venice and Milan. Torino has a vibrant history, thriving culture and rich scenery.
Brown and Levy magnificently showcased Torino in Friday night's six minute introduction.
Scott Duncan, the cinematographer for "The Apprentice" and "Survivor," (and the brother of NBA star Tim Duncan) shot much of the breathtaking scenery. Stunning!
And the music. Wow. Superb.
If our kids weren't in school, we'd be booking the next flight to Italy. Thank God we get to head there in June.
To follow is how Andre majestically lured us into the images of Torino. You could almost taste the snow.
Hopefully, if you didn't see the Opening Ceremony live, you've at least TiVoed it.
For the fifty million viewers who did tune in, your participation was greater than last week's American Idol (40 million), CSI (34.5 million), The Grammys (44.3 million) and Dancing with The Stars (29.9 million).
The top twenty-five cities to tune in included Salt Lake City, Minneapolis / St. Paul, Milwaukee, Cleveland, Denver, St. Louis, Ft. Myers, Sacramento, West Palm Beach, Las Vegas, Providence, Indianapolis, Hartford, Norfolk, Columbus, Baltimore, Portland (Oregon), San Diego, Atlanta, Tampa, Pittsburgh, Seattle, Buffalo, New York and Kansas City.
AP Photo Credit: Julie Jacobson
NBC's Introduction to The 2006 Winter Olympics
the world that knew a kaleidoscope of fractious kingdoms:
once imperial Rome,
the water world of Venice,
But Italy, the nation,
begins in its heavens,
at its northwest passage,
where painfully perfect mountains
collide with a city of tumultuous invention.
Where suffering and freedom intertwine.
Where cliff-side castles are built.
Sky top fortresses erected
to resist the invaders they knew would come.
In these heights,
by brave hearts never conquered
is born the unifying mural.
In the sojournment of resurrection
the birth of Italy.
The first parliament,
a new flag,
long bickering cousins made one.
It happens here in the shadow
of these frosted Alps
amid the capricious piazzas
and endless porticos
and baroque splendor
of long embattled Torino.
in the country's first capital
2,500 athletes have arrived
at the doors to Italy
with stories from across the globe
born of a certain place
united by an indomitable passion.
Like the one who left home alone
to seek his destiny in an Oz
called St. Petersburg.
And the new Beijing capitalist
who competes not for money
Some are small town heroes.
He's cut the wood for his skis in a forested Austrian highland.
And in tiny Tarnaby
a twenty-four year-old Swedish sensation
who already has a holiday named
just for her.
These stories end
only to begin again.
conquered by a triumphant resolve.
A nation's enduring inspiration
who's defied a failing body
stitched together by twelve surgeons.
The one who subdued the agony of defeat
and the shadow of death.
And after the record gold rush of Salt Lake City
the red, white and blue is expected to rise again and again.
There are the young Americans
in a Twenty First Century sport.
From the west
San Diego's fiery marvel.
From the east
captivating boarders burned by a vivacious brand of excellence.
He's the philosophical daredevil
drawn to Alaska's wild
to tease the outer limits of his fear.
And he's the electric Coloradan
who sidesteps mayhem
The American mosaic includes
the object of another nation's frustration.
This Seattle native of Japanese heritage
who lives and trains with a Zen-like zeal.
He's a Texas cyclone
a whirlwind born from nowhere
so silent, so daunting
he's called "The Exception".
The royalty of American figure skating returns
Figure Skater, Michelle Kwan
AP Photo Credit: Amy Sancetta
with clear purpose
one seeking to harness her tantalizing talent
for one defining moment;
to claim in her curtain call
that only missing prize ...
For all his life,
this Chicago pioneer
has stretched the notion
of what is possible.
For one last hurrah,
this California screamer
has willfully converted his body into a bullet.
And this impetuous New Hampshire rebel
defines his state's very motto:
"Live Free. Or die."
AP Photo Credit: Amy Sancetta
Their stories begin tonight,
where Italy was born,
where resistance has long flourished,
wars ignited and extinguished.
Where a kaleidoscope of kingdoms has finally merged.
In a city of majesty and sanctity
where competition ignites the flames of passion;
a city of succulent style and stylish speed.
Where greatness is born of fearless visions
and unconditional devotions.
North of Rome and Florence
West of Venice and Milan.
The world comes to Italy's Alpine heights.
Tonight, the world comes to hear stories
old and new...
The stories of Torino.
NBC should sell this production on iTunes for all iPod video owners; one way to help recoup the $613 million they paid for the exclusive U.S. rights to airing the Winter Games.
Needless to say, NBC set the stage beautifully for 418 hours of coverage in Torino.
For further information, please explore:
World Map of 2006 Winter Olympics Teams
Participating nations: Green: fewer than 10 athletes; Blue: 10-50 athletes; Orange: 50-100 athletes; Red: More than 100.
Italian Supermodel Carla Bruni delivers the Italian Flag
AP Photo Credit: Eric Gay
The following countries have a presence in the 2006 Winter Olympics, including one athlete representing Albania, Bermuda, Costa Rica, Cyprus, Ethiopia, Hong Kong, Kenya, Luxumbourg, Madagascar, Nepal, Portugal, San Marino, Senegal, Tajikistan, Chinese Taipei, Thailand, U.S. Virgin Islands and Venezuela.
The United States has the most with 211 athletes.
Italy has 185 athletes representing their country.
Country Name & # of Athletes
Albania (1 athlete)
Algeria (2 athletes from one of six African nations)
Andorra (3 athletes)
Argentina (8 athletes)
Armenia (5 athletes)
Australia (40 athletes)
Austria (82 athletes)
Azerbaijan (2 athletes)
Belarus (28 athletes)
Belgium (4 athletes)
Bermuda (1 athlete)
Bosnia & Herzegovina (6 athletes)
Brazil (10 athletes)
Bulgaria (21 athletes)
Canada (196 athletes)
Chile (9 athletes)
China (76 athletes)
Costa Rica (1 athlete)
Croatia (24 athletes)
Cyprus (1 athlete)
Czech Republic (83 athletes)
Denmark (5 athletes)
Estonia (28 athletes)
Ethiopia (1 athlete)
Finland (95 athletes)
France (89 athletes)
Georgia (3 athletes)
Germany (161 athletes)
Great Britain (40 athletes)
Greece (5 athletes)
Hong Kong, China (1 athlete)
Hungary (20 athletes)
Iceland (5 athletes)
India (4 athletes)
Iran (5 athletes)
Ireland (4 athletes)
Israel (5 athletes)
Italy (185 athletes)
Japan (112 athletes)
Kazakhstan (56 athletes)
Kenya (1 athlete)
North Korea (6 athletes)
South Korea (40 athletes)
Kyrgyzstan (1 athlete)
Latvia (57 athletes)
Lebanon (6 athletes)
Liechtenstein (3 athletes)
Lithuania (7 athletes)
Luxembourg (1 athlete)
Macedonia FYR (3 athletes)
Madagascar (1 athlete)
Moldova (13 athletes)
Monaco (4 athletes)
Mongolia (2 athletes)
Nepal (1 athlete)
Netherlands (35 athletes)
New Zealand (18 athletes)
Norway (74 athletes)
Poland (46 athletes)
Portugal (1 athlete)
Romania (25 athletes)
Russia (181 athletes)
San Marino (1 athlete)
Senegal (1 athlete)
Serbia & Montenegro (6 athletes)
Slovakia (59 athletes)
Slovenia (41 athletes)
South Africa (3 athletes)
Spain (16 athletes)
Sweden (113 athletes)
Switzerland (130 athletes)
Tajikistan (1 athlete)
Chinese Taipei (Taiwan) (1 athlete)
Thailand (1 athlete)
Turkey (6 athletes)
Ukraine (53 athletes)
United States (211 athletes)
U.S. Virgin Islands (1 athlete)
Uzbekistan (4 athletes)
Venezuela (1 athlete)
February 10th and 26th
February 11th, 13th, 14th, 16th, 18th, 21st, 23rd and 25th
February 18th - 21st and February 24th and 25th
February 13th - 24th
February 11th - 22nd and February 24th - 26th
February 11th, 13th, 14th, 16th, 17th, 19th, 20th, 21st, 23rd and 24th
February 11th, 12th, 14th, 16th - 19th, 22nd, 24th and 26th
February 11th, 15th and 21st
February 11th - 15th
February 11th - 16th, February 18th, 19th, 21st, 22nd, 24th and 25th
February 12th, 15th, 18th, 22nd and 25th
February 12th, 14th, 15th, 17th - 20th, 22nd, 24th and 25th
February 11th, 15th, 19th, 20th, 22nd and 23rd
February 11th, 12th, 17th, 18th, 20th
February 16th and 17th
February 12th, 13th, 16th, 17th, 22nd and 23rd
On Friday, February 10th, Stefania Belmondo, a ten-time Olympic medalist from Italy, lit the 2006 Winter Olympics flame and ignited a fire of passion in the stadium. The scene was magical, to say the least.
Cherie Blair, Laura & Barbara Bush
AP Photo Credit: Charles Dharapak
Among the thousand who were fortunate to get a seat at the Opening Ceremony,
U.S. first lady Laura Bush, center, sat together with daughter Barbara Bush, right, and Cherie Blair, left, wife of Britain's Prime Minister Tony Blair.
Good luck to all the athletes! We're cheering you on from afar.
NBC's Brian Brown and Mark Levy
Photo Credit: J.J. Gilmartin
Congratulations to Brian Brown, Mark Levy, Andre Braugher, Scott Duncan, Randy Falco (President & COO of NBC Universal Television Group), network hosts Bob Costas, Brian Williams and Mary Carillo, as well as all those responsible both behind and in front of the camera for magnificently bringing Italy thousands of miles away into our homes.
For Opening Ceremony video highlights (not including the six-minute introduction) go to:
Another fabulous resource is The Complete Book of the Winter Olympics, 2006 Edition : Turin (Complete Book of the Olympics) by David Wallechinsky and Jaime Loucky, is available by special order.
Inspire & Be Inspired.
Here's to healthy, adventuresome, soulful, "passionate" living!
Ciao for now,
~ Jennifer Carolyn King, Rugged Elegance, LLC