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WORLD SPORT

Torino hard to swallow for some

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Some U.S. skiers are less than impressed with their food in Torino.

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• Quiz: Torino 2006 Quiz
• Special: Winter Olympics 2006

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Winter Olympics
Italy
Food and Drinks
Resi Stiegler

TORINO, Italy (CNN) -- One of the benefits of an Olympics being held in Italy -- whether an athlete is celebrating a medal or a personal best, or cursing an opportunity gone begging -- is that after a hard day's competition a delicious meal of one of the world's leading cuisines awaits.

Or so you might have thought.

Instead, some members of the U.S. Olympic team are complaining of sub-par pasta at the Olympic village in Sestriere.

And in a country renowned for its food and the pride taken in preparing it -- and in a region that gave the world the Slow Food Movement dedicated to preserving the best traditions of gastronomic passion and care -- they are feeling more than a little disappointed.

"It's disgusting. I've never eaten such bad food in my life," said Resi Stiegler, an Alpine skier from Wyoming.

"It's unfortunate because Italy is known for its good food and I've had good Italian food, but I guess they just don't know how to cook for a lot of people."

One of her teammates, Stiegler said, wondered aloud about whether she had perhaps been served cat, so unusual and distasteful did she find one meal.

"Even the pasta is horrible. I don't know how you can screw up on pasta, but I guess you can," she said.

Three other U.S. skiers -- Bode Miller, Daron Rahlves and Julia Mancuso -- have bypassed the potential for culinary disappointment at the athletes' village by lodging in their own mobile homes for the duration of the Games.

Stiegler said that had prompted her and her disaffected teammates to consider taking matters into their own hands.

"Julia's sister is cooking for her in the RV. We'll run over there and steal snacks sometimes," she said.

And should that plan fail, a lifeline could be thrown to the U.S. skiers by some of their rivals.

"We found the Chinese room so we can eat rice and wonton soup and spring rolls," Stiegler said.

The skiers from the host country, perhaps tellingly, chose to avoid the village cuisine altogether and set up shop at a four-star hotel in the center of Sestriere. And they couldn't be happier with their decision.

"We're really well set up," Italian skier Peter Fill said. "It's almost too good, the food is really good -- meat, spaghetti, everything."

Food poisoning

Dietary problems posed a more serious problem for Canadian curler Amy Nixon.

Nixon said she suffered a bout of food poisoning earlier in the week that affected her performance in her team's match again Sweden. The third-ranked Swedes beat the second-ranked Canadians 7-5.

"I think we did pretty well considering I nearly didn't play," Nixon said after the match.

"I've been pretty ill, food poisoning we think. I'm getting better. It's just like there's nothing left in me."

She was put on a regimen of "pieces of apple, a bite of granola" to bring her back to health.

It seems to have worked. She and the Canadian team returned to form on Tuesday, edging Russia 6-5 and easily accounting for the U.S. team 11-5.

For fans though, local food remains a drawcard of the Torino Games -- and in some cases the sole solace should ticket prices or long queues in the cold at venues prove too daunting.

"We wanted to get to the medals plaza, but it's closed off," would-be spectator Elisabetta Rinaldi told Reuters while watching coverage on one of two plasma TV screens set up in the window of a luxury goods store in downtown Torino.

"So we're having an ice cream instead to celebrate."

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