The Italian Almanac

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Italian News - March 8

Still glowing from the success of the Winter Olympics, Turin and its surrounding mountains are now looking forward to making its Paralympic partner a hit. The IX Winter Paralympic Games kick off with Friday evening's opening ceremony at the city's Stadio Olimpico - the same stadium used for the spectacular shows that inaugurated and closed last month's festival of sport.

Nine days of competition will follow, in which some 640 athletes - around 150 more than were in Salt Lake City four years ago - from 40 countries will do battle to win the 58 medals up for grabs. "They are extraordinary athletes, who happen to be disabled," said Tiziana Nasi, the president of Turin Paralympics organizing committee COMPARTO. "The aim of the event is to show that nowadays the disabled can work, marry, have social relations and practise sport at a very high level."

There are five Winter Paralympic sports: ice sledge hockey, wheelchair curling, biathlon, Alpine skiing and cross-country skiing.