Armin Zoeggeler

Alberto Tomba
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Who is Italy’s greatest Olympian?

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Italy ranks sixth on the total Olympic medal list, thanks in large part to its fencers. Italian fencers have won a leading 125 medals, more than double the nation’s total in any other sport. The Italians are known for their personalities, from La Bomba to the Cannibal, with six of their best detailed here …

Deborah Compagnoni
Alpine Skiing
Three Olympic Gold Medals

The only Alpine skier to earn gold at three straight Olympics. Compagnoni overcame a broken knee as a junior racer and life-saving surgery to remove 27 inches of her intestine in 1990 to win the Albertville 1992 super-G by 1.8 seconds. It remains the largest margin of victory in the discipline for either gender since 1968. The following day, Compagnoni tore knee ligaments in the giant slalom. She returned to win the GS at the 1994 Lillehammer Games. Compagnoni ended her Olympic career with the biggest rout in a GS at a Winter Games, prevailing by 1.41 seconds in Nagano.

Klaus Dibiasi
Diving
Three Olympic Gold Medals

The only diver to win the same individual event three times. The Austrian-born Dibiasi took platform silver in 1964 at age 17, then three straight golds through 1976. Dibiasi was coached by his father, who was 10th on platform at the 1936 Berlin Games. In his final Olympics, Dibiasi held off a 16-year-old Greg Louganis, who would go on to challenge, if not overtake, Dibiasi as the greatest male diver in history.

Eugenio Monti
Bobsled
Six Olympic Medals

Regarded by many as the greatest bobsled driver in history. Monti captured two silver medals in 1956, missed the 1960 Winter Games that didn’t include bobsled, then two bronzes in 1964 and a pair of golds at age 40 in 1968. On top of that, the nine-time world champion is remembered for an act of sportsmanship in 1964. In between runs, Monti lent a bolt off his own two-man sled to a British team whose sled was damaged. The Brits took gold, ahead of both Italian sleds.

Alberto Tomba
Alpine Skiing
Three Olympic Gold Medals

“La Bomba” dazzled by sweeping the giant slalom and slalom at the 1988 Calgary Winter Games, after dubbing himself the “Messiah of Skiing“ beforehand. Known for his man-about-town ways, Tomba offered one of his gold medals to East German figure skater Katarina Witt should she fall short in her event. After Witt repeated as gold medalist, the story goes that Tomba showed up with a bouquet of roses and an autographed picture of himself, made out out to “Katerina.” “I used to have a wild time with three women until 5 a.m.,” Tomba once said. “Now I live it up with five women until 3 a.m,”

Valentina Vezzali
Fencing
Six Olympic Gold Medals

An 18-year-old Vezzali was an alternate for the 1992 Olympics, forced to watch on TV as the Italian women took team foil gold. Vezzali made the next five Olympics, winning medals in all nine of her events, including three straight individual titles, the last as a mom. Vezzali finished her career with nine total Olympic medals, 25 world championships medals, a flag bearer honor at the 2012 Opening Ceremony and as a member of Italy’s parliament.

Armin Zoeggeler
Luge
Six Olympic Medals

“The Cannibal” retired in 2014 as the first athlete to earn a medal in the same individual event at six straight Olympics. Zoeggeler earned silver and bronze medals in 1994 and 1998, then overtook German legend Georg Hackl for gold in 2002, followed by winning at home in Torino in 2006. He held on for bronze medals in 2010 and 2014, behind the new German luge star, Felix Loch, who would be coached by Hackl. Growing up on top of a steep hill, Zoeggeler began sledding at age 7 to catch the school bus at the bottom.

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Armin Zoeggeler retires from luge

Armin Zoeggeler
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Italian luger Armin Zoeggeler, the first athlete to win medals in the same individual event in six straight Olympics, announced his retirement Tuesday.

Zoeggeler, 40, began his Olympic career with bronze at Lillehammer 1994, upgraded to silver at Nagano 1998, won consecutive golds at Salt Lake City 2002 and Torino 2006 and hung on for bronze at Vancouver 2010 and Sochi 2014.

He last Olympic competition was the first Olympic mixed luge team relay, where Italy finished fifth in Sochi.

“My instinct after the [Sochi] Olympics told me that it was the right time to retire, but I wanted to be 100 percent sure,” Zoeggeler said, according to The Associated Press.

Zoeggeler began his career chasing the German great Georg Hackl and ended it ceding to another German, Felix Loch.

Zoeggeler is tied for the most medals among Italian male Winter Olympians with bobsledder Eugenio Monti.

Lauryn Williams returns to U.S. Bobsled

What to watch on Day 6 of Sochi Olympics

Patrick Chan
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Here’s a look at the compelling events, athletes and storylines of the Sochi Olympics on Thursday, Feb. 13. A complete list of every Thursday event can be found here.

WHAT TO STAY UP LATE FOR …

Women’s skeleton runs 1 and 2, 2:30 a.m. ET — CLICK HERE TO WATCH EVENT LIVE

The medals won’t be awarded until Friday, but gold is expected to come down to American Noelle-Pikus Pace and Great Britain’s Lizzy Yarnold.

Pikus-Pace, a mother of two, finished fourth at the 2010 Olympics, retired and came back two seasons ago and was in the best form of her life this past season, which she said will be her last.

However, she is now dealing with a back injury and was 11th and 13th in two training runs Monday. Pikus-Pace passed on taking training runs Tuesday and Wednesday.

Yarnold, the World Cup season champion, was the fastest in four training runs. She’s looking to make it back-to-back skeleton golds for the Brits after Amy Williams’ title in 2010. Williams now works for the BBC.

The other U.S. slider is Katie Uhlaender, the 2012 world champion who has been slowed by concussion effects this season.

Men’s ski slopestyle final, 4:30 a.m. ET — CLICK HERE TO WATCH EVENT LIVE

Two-time reigning Winter X Games champion Nick Goepper, the rare skier out of Indiana, is a medal favorite here. Goepper was among the first skiers to qualify for the Olympics in December and then enjoyed a media whirlwind that took him to the Golden Globe Awards and David Letterman.

The field includes several men who could win gold without a surprise, including Swede Jesper Tjader, Brit James Woods and Norwegian Andreas Haatveit. Also watch out for the other U.S. skiers — Bobby Brown, Joss Christensen and Gus Kenworthy.

WHAT TO WAKE UP EARLY FOR …

Men’s hockey, U.S.-Slovakia  CLICK HERE TO WATCH EVENT LIVE | Russia-Slovenia, 7:30 a.m. ET — CLICK HERE TO WATCH EVENT LIVE

The men’s hockey tournament begins in earnest Thursday. All four Group A nations will play at the same time. The U.S. gets a tougher test with Slovakia than Russia does with Slovenia.

It is also important to note that all teams advance from group play to the bracket round, though group results will dictate if nations go straight to quarterfinals or must play first-round elimination games.

The U.S. will start Jonathan Quick in goal against Slovakia. The Slovaks, who pushed Canada in the 2010 Olympic semifinals and ultimately finished fourth, are led by Zdeno Chara and Marian Hossa.

Russia gets going against a nation making its Olympic hockey debut in Slovenia.

Women’s speed skating 1000m, 9 a.m. ET — CLICK HERE TO WATCH EVENT LIVE

Heather Richardson and Brittany Bowe went one-two in three of four World Cup 1000m races so far this season, but it will be hard to replicate that at the Adler Arena.

Russia’s Olga Fatkulina is the 2013 world champion on this ice and took second in the 500m on Tuesday. Richardson was eighth in the 500m; Bowe was 13th. However, Richardson and Bowe are better in the 1000m.

There’s also Dutchwoman Ireen Wuest, the 2013 world silver medalist. Wuest won the 5000m on Sunday at Adler. China’s Zhang Hong, too, could keep the U.S. from winning its first Olympic women’s speed skating medal since 2002.

Men’s biathlon 20km individual, 9 a.m. ET CLICK HERE TO WATCH EVENT LIVE

Norway’s Ole Einar Bjoerndalen gets his second chance to become the most decorated Winter Olympian of all time. Bjoerndalen, 40, matched retired Norwegian cross-country skier Bjorn Daehlie by winning the 10km sprint Saturday for his 12th career medal. Daehlie has more golds.

Bjoerndalen then finished an agonizing fourth in the 12.5km pursuit on Monday, his first fourth-place finish in 23 career Olympic races. He missed the podium by 1.7 seconds.

Bjoerndalen is not expected to be among the medal contenders in this longer distance, though. The gold is expected to come down to France’s flamboyant Martin Fourcade and another Norwegian, Emil Hegle Svendsen.

WHAT YOU CAN’T MISS DURING THE DAY …

Figure skating men’s short program, 10 a.m. ET — CLICK HERE TO WATCH EVENT LIVE

The cliched saying goes, you can’t win the Olympic gold medal in the short program, but you can lose it.

The major players are Japan’s Yuzuru Hanyu, who skates at 12:45 p.m. ET, and Canada’s Patrick Chan, who goes two skaters later at 12:58. Chan, 23, is the three-time reigning world champion. Hanyu, 19, beat Chan at the Grand Prix Final in December.

Several other men are in the medal picture, including Russian four-time Olympic medalist Yevgeny Plushenko (10:55 a.m.) and Spain’s Javier Fernandez (12:51 p.m.).

U.S. skaters Jeremy Abbott and Jason Brown go at 11:21 a.m. and 12:17 p.m., respectively.

Luge team relay, 11:15 a.m. ET — CLICK HERE TO WATCH EVENT LIVE

The U.S. looks to build off the momentum of Erin Hamlin’s bronze medal in the final Olympic luge event. The team relay, in its Olympic debut, consists of a woman taking a run down the track and rising at the finish to tap a touch pad.

The tap will signal the start for a men’s luger, who will take his run and rise to tap the same pad. Finally, a doubles team goes. The doubles’ touch on the pad stops the clock.

The U.S. will send Hamlin, Chris Mazdzer (13th in singles) and Christian Niccum and Jayson Terdiman down the Sanki Sliding Center track.

Germany, which won men’s and women’s singles, is a heavy gold-medal favorite. Russia, Canada, Italy, Austria and even the U.S. could also win medals.

Men’s hockey, Canada-Norway, 12 p.m. ET CLICK HERE TO WATCH EVENT LIVE

The men’s hockey nightcap features the defending Olympic champion against a nation that has never made it past the Olympic quarterfinals.

Canada’s roster includes 25 NHL players, most of them All-Stars. Norway’s roster includes one NHL player, New York Rangers forward Mats Zuccarello.

The key in this game will be Canada’s goalie, Carey Price, who is making his Olympic debut. 2010 Olympic gold-medal game winner Roberto Luongo is slated to start Canada’s second game against Austria on Friday. So, we have a competition on our hands.