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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Slutskaya, Plushenko Begin Preparations

APEvgeny Plushenko
TURIN, Italy -- Figure skaters Irina Slutskaya and Evgeny Plushenko will take part in an exhibition on Sept. 24 in the arena that will be used for the upcoming 2006 Turin Winter Olympics.

The Russians, both silver medalists at the 2002 Salt Lake City Games, will be joined by Stephane Lambiel, who won Switzerland's first men's figure skating world title in more than 50 years in Moscow in March.

Turin's new Palavela hosted the European short track and figure skating championships last winter and organizers of the "Gran Gala Lancia Ice" exhibition are hoping to duplicate the large crowds that showed up for those events.

Also scheduled to participate are Italy's 2002 Olympic ice dancing bronze medalists Barbara Fusar Poli and Maurizio Margaglio, and 18-year-old Carolina Kostner, one of Italy's top medal hopes for Turin and winner of the bronze medal at the world championships earlier this year.

Only a few other test events remain for the Feb. 10-26 games: a hockey tournament at the nearly completed Palasport Olimpico and the completed Torino Esposizioni on Nov. 9-12, and World Cup speedskating at the nearly complete Oval Lingotto from Dec. 9 to Dec. 11.

The Turin Games run from Feb. 10 to Feb. 26.

Officially, it will remain a secret until the opening ceremony on Feb. 10, but Alberto Tomba is the odds-on favorite to light the Turin torch.

Italy's former skiing great even hinted recently that he could be the last torchbearer. "The first torchbearer will be the Italian winner of the Olympic marathon [Stefano Baldini], while the last will be a surprise. Maybe it will be me," Tomba said earlier this month at a Turin Games promotional event in Berlin.

Tomba, who will turn 39 in December, became the first Alpine skier to win medals in three different Olympics -- Calgary in 1988, Albertville in 1992 and Lillehammer in 1994. He won three golds and two silvers.

Baldini, who won the marathon in Athens last year, will be the first torchbearer when the Turin relay begins in Rome on Dec. 8.

There will be 10,001 torchbearers in all to carry the torch through every region and province in Italy.

Tomba is currently working as a special promoter for the Turin Games.

"When the first snow falls in Turin in November and the season starts, everything will be ready," Tomba said.

Work has been completed on one of the three Olympic Villages for the Turin Games.

The 724-bed Bardonecchia village, presented Monday, was constructed at a cost of approximately $33.25 million. Work began in March 2004 to convert a historical building that was last used as a hotel. Located next to the French border, Bardonecchia will host snowboarding events during the Olympics.

Besides snowboarders, athletes who are going to compete in biathlon and freestyle will also stay in Bardonecchia and be transported to their nearby venues in Cesana and Sauze d'Oulx.

The complex will open on Jan. 31 and be operational until Feb. 28.

Two other villages are nearing completion.

The main village in Turin is slated to host 2,500 people and another, in the Alpine center of Sestriere, will hold 1,700 athletes and associates.