Host City: Torino, Italy
Date Started: February 11, 2006
Date Finished: February 16, 2006
Participants: 174 (97 men and 77 women) from 19 countries
Youngest Participant: Kim Yu-Rim (16 years, 12 days)
Oldest Participant: Bart Veldkamp (38 years, 95 days)
Most Medals (Athlete): Cindy Klassen (5 medals)
Most Medals (Country): Netherlands (9 medals)
Italy had never won an Olympic speed skating medal prior to 2006, although it was home to two fast outdoor rinks in South Tyrol, at Baselga di Pinè and Collalbo (Klobenstein). The newly built Oval Lingotto was the country’s first indoor rink. Since the Olympics, it has been used as a multi-purpose sports facility, hosting among others the 37th Chess Olympiad, the 2006 World Fencing Championships and the 2009 European Indoor Athletics Championships.
For the first time since 1988, the Olympic speed skating program had been extended, with the team pursuit added for both men and women. The admission of the event in 2004 had come as a surprise, having not yet been held at senior World Championships at that time (it was contested at the 2005 World Championships). This meant it did not meet general IOC requirements for new events, but intensive lobbying by ISU president Ottavio Cinquanta proved successful. Another team pursuit question mark was the planned format, which had never been tested in competition prior to the Games. In the end, the new competition proved popular with most followers and skaters, as well as the media.
The gold medals in Torino were divided by skaters from six countries, the highest number since 1968. Host nation Italy won medals for the first, with Enrico Fabris winning two individual medals and leading the pursuit team to gold. This also made him the most successful skater, followed by Cindy Klassen, who won five medals (including one gold), the first skater since Eric Heiden to win 5 speed skating medals at a single Olympics.