Host City: Torino, Italy
Date Started: February 11, 2006
Date Finished: February 26, 2006
Participants: 447 (287 men and 160 women) from 12 countries
Youngest Participant: Valentina Bettarini (15 years, 228 days)
Oldest Participant: Chris Chelios (44 years, 22 days)
Most Medals (Athlete): 131 athletes with 1 medal
Most Medals (Country): Sweden (2 medals)
The Palasport Olimpico opened in 2005 as the biggest arena in Italy. After the Olympics, it has been primarily used for pop concerts. The smaller Torino Esposizioni has not hosted hockey matches since the Olympics, and is primarily for exhibitions and trade fairs. Once again both men’s and women’s tournaments were conducted. The women’s field was increased to eight teams, separated into two pools of four teams each. The top two teams in each pool advanced to semi-finals matches, with the winners of those matches playing for the gold medal, which went to Canada. The biggest news of the women’s tournament, however, was that the final was not between Canada and the United States, as the United States was upset in overtime in the semi-finals against Sweden.
NHL teams again allowed their players to compete in the Winter Olympics, closing down the league for two weeks. The format was different, however. The 12 teams were separated into two pools of six, with no direct seeding into final pools as in 1998 and 2002. Four teams from each pool advanced to a single-elimination medal tournament.