Torino looks to Olympics for transformation 

Italian officials advise community to build on legacies of Games

Whistler may be counting the years until it hosts the 2010 Winter Olympic Games with Vancouver.

But Torino, Italy, host of the 2006 Games is counting the days – with only 679 to go.

And what has become apparent to organizers in Italy, as the years of preparation rush by, is that the Games are all about the legacies they leave behind.

"It is important to have a successful Games because that gives you a reputation," said Valentino Castellani, president of the Torino organizing committee, TOROC.

"But the people who remain in the territory of the Games, they have to have some long-term opportunities and results. So looking far (ahead) in your planning on the Olympic legacies is an important commitment for the local authorities."

Added Torino Mayor Sergio Chiamparino: "I would like to underline the importance of the legacies because this, I think, is the most important goal of the Winter Games and those of the (host) city, particularly in the field of culture."

Castellani gave the Whistler venue a glowing review this week during a visit by a delegation of Italian Games organizers, businesses, and city planners. They came to share their experiences, raise their own profile, and forge new alliances with B.C. companies.

"You will have a great Olympics, I am sure of it," he said Sunday while touring Whistler Village and Whistler Mountain.

"On this sunny day you could just breathe in the spirit of the place."

The design and layout of the pedestrian village, which keeps most parking underground, also impressed the former mayor of Torino.

"Our villages are older so you couldn’t have planned this, but this is very important so you can make important choices," said Castellani.

He also felt that Vancouver’s message of being the Sea to Sky Games was a powerful one.

"What impressed me… is this connection of mountains with the sea," said Castellani.

"I believe this is a very interesting feature for the identity of the Games. To have this connection, skiing in front of the sea, I believe this is very, very important, spectacular I would say, so that is what impressed me on my first visit to Vancouver."

However, he noted that the highway between Vancouver and Whistler does need work.

"It must be improved, of course, for the Games," said Castellani, adding that the 2006 Games have a similar road into some of the alpine venues, which is currently being upgraded.

The Sestriere 2006 alpine venue just hosted the FIS World Cup finals.


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