The Italian Almanac


Italian News - February 17

Curling has gained a record television audience in Italy at the Turin Winter Olympics sweeping even figure skating aside. Nearly five million Italians tuned in to watch Italy's unranked men pull off a shocker on Wednesday evening, winning their second straight game and upsetting highly rated United States 6-5 before a stand full of roaring fans.

"Curling had a bigger audience than figure skating," Franco Zumofen, Italy's ice sports federation vice president told on Thursday, barely able to hide his astonishment. Turin Olympics Organizing Committee were similarly amazed by a 23 percent audience share for a sport with nothing in common with football, Italian's traditional sporting pursuit.

"Almost five million viewers for curling, in a country like Italy where football is the favorite sport, is completely unexpected," Giuseppe Gattino, a Turin organizing committee spokesman told a news conference. There are only 500 curlers in Italy, and most of those hailing from northeastern ski town Cortina D'Ampezzo.