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Shelley Osterloh ReportingThe 2006 Torino Winter Olympics get underway one year from today. Hard to believe, it's been three years since our own Olympic Games in Salt Lake City.
The one-year countdown to Torino began with the unveiling of a countdown clock. Torino, or Turin, is the gateway to the Italian alps. The city is undergoing a rapid transition, and hectic preparations are evident everywhere.
Many of the completed venues are hosting World Cup competitions this month as test events, but construction is still underway at some venues including the ski jump. Many of the US stars of the 2002 games plan to compete next year, but there are some newcomers with Olympic dreams too. And Utah is well represented.
The US long track speed skating team calls Salt Lake City home and trains at the Utah Olympic Oval. All of the six skaters who won eight long track medals are going for the gold again, including Derek Parra, Jennifer Rodriguez, and Casey FitzRandolph
Casey FitzRandolph, Olympic Gold Medalist: "So if I could win another in 2006 in Torino, I think I could retire happy man in Torino."
On the Freestyle Aerials team, Olympic Silver medalist Joe Pack of Park City has been on the podium twice this season. Jeret Peterson is ranked number one in the world and right behind him is Ryan St. Onge, who recently won the world Cup in Deer Valley.
Ryan St. Onge. Deer Valley World Cup Winner: "I think its only up and up from here, work on some new tricks get ready for the Olympics. I think it will be fantastic."
Park City native Nate Roberts has one Moguls world cup win and was second in Park City, right behind Colorado's Jeremy Bloom who is currently ranked number one in the world. And for the first time ever an America woman is ranked number one in overall World Cup Standings in Skeleton. 20-year old Noel Pikus Pace is from Orem.
Noelle Pikus-Pace, Top Ranked Skeleton Slider: "Going to the Olympics has never been a goal of mine and now that it’s attainable, it’s kind of surreal."
Utahns still have a chance to check out some elite winter sports competitions. One week from tomorrow the World Luge Championships get underway for three days at the Utah Olympic Park. And March 12th the world's best snowboarders will compete at Park City in the World Superpipe Championships.