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Olympic flame to burn record 200 feet in air

Associated Press

It is as tall as a 20-story building and weighs more than a 70-seat airplane.

The cauldron that will hold the Olympic flame for the 16 days of the Turin Olympics is certainly innovative – and quite large.

The imposing structure, images of which were presented Wednesday, is being labeled the tallest in Olympic history at nearly 200 feet. It weighs 170 tons.

Designed by the Turin-based design firm Pininfarina SpA, renowned engineer of Fiats and Ferraris, production of the cauldron cost $1.77 million.

It is composed of five thin steel tubes representing the five Olympic rings that are twisted around a sixth, central tube near the top. It is painted white.

The cauldron will arrive at the Olympic stadium at the end of this month in three parts and be put in place by Jan. 20.

Besides the question of who will light the cauldron at the Feb. 10 opening ceremony, organizers are also keeping secret how it will be ignited.

“It will be a surprise,” ceremony director Alberto Zambernardi said. “It will be lit by the final torchbearer and it will be done in an intriguing manner.”

No viewing of shroud

The Shroud of Turin will remain closed to viewing during the Olympics.

The decision was announced Wednesday by Turin Cardinal Severino Poletto, the shroud’s custodian.

The shroud has not been on full display since a fire in 1997 destroyed the chapel where it is kept. The Duomo cathedral displays a photographic reproduction of the linen strip that some believe was Jesus’ burial cloth.

Poletto also ruled out the possibility of special viewings for the many heads of state expected to attend the games.

“The last one we did was for Maria Gabriella of the Savoy family, in accordance with the Vatican,” he said. The Savoy family that once ruled Italy handed over the shroud to the church in 1983.

“Besides, the reasons for an exhibition are not related with that of an event that is exclusively sports,” Poletto said.

Spillane injured again

Just when American Johnny Spillane appeared to be healthy and ready for a strong run leading up to the Olympics with the U.S. Nordic combined team, he got hurt again.

Spillane is nursing a separated right shoulder that will require surgery after the Turin Games, but he plans to compete anyway.

Spillane, among a large crop of combined athletes from Steamboat Springs, Colo., was injured the day before the team’s first World Cup event when the heel cord on his boot broke and caused his ski to kick up at him, injuring his shoulder.

“The doctors said he could compete if he can handle the pain,” U.S. Nordic director Luke Bodensteiner said. “So he’s going to compete through the pain.”

Being injured is nothing new, considering Spillane hurt the same shoulder and damaged a disk in his back in a hard fall.

“I’ve been able to deal with all the injuries, I guess,” Spillane said. “It is healing fast and I have been able to train for the last couple of weeks. I am going to ski with the injury for the winter and then have a complete reconstructive surgery in the spring.”

Spillane and his American teammates are medal contenders in the team event after several fourth-place finishes, including at the 2002 Olympics in Salt Lake City.

Village ready

The main Olympic Village for the Turin Winter Games was completed Thursday, 50 days before the opening ceremony.

“The athletes will be hosted in the best conditions and will be able to live the Olympic experience with tranquillity,” said Turin organizing committee chief Valentino Castellani.

The 39 multicolored buildings were built over the past two years around a former central market and will host about 2,600 people.

The Turin complex, spread over about 100,000 square yards, is the largest of three Olympic villages for the Feb. 10-26 games.

A village in Bardonecchia – which will host 700 people involved in nearby biathlon, snowboard and freestyle skiing competitions – already has been completed. A larger village in the Sestriere resort, with 2,000 spots for the Alpine skiing events, appears to be behind schedule.

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