There's nothing we love more at Google than a public event that gives us an excuse to trot out some celebratory bells and whistles. Case in point: the 2006 Winter Games, now playing in Torino, Italy and on a wide-screen TV and, yes, computer screen very near you. How can Google help enhance your enjoyment of the world's finest athletes competing in one of the world's most gloriously wintry natural settings without actually getting up out of your office chair? Let us count the ways...

To begin with, our man Dennis is publishing a series of Torino-themed doodles showcasing the different events; check back with our home page early and often over the next couple weeks to see how the series progresses -- and for the historically minded, take a look at earlier doodles for Sydney '00, Salt Lake '02 and Greece '04.

Our intrepid in-house satellite globetrotters, meanwhile, have updated Google Earth and Google Local with high resolution imagery of the Torino area; you can read more about what the Earth folks have in store for you just below.

Speaking of vicarious thrills: want to surf the same web pages the athletes themselves will be perusing? The Lenovo i.lounge Start Page is the official homepage at the Athlete Villages and various other Winter Games VIP locations. It features no less than 8 Google products and should prove useful to thousands of hungry, lost, homesick, bored, news-hungry or otherwise information-needing athletes. And you can noodle around on them, too.

Finally, if you're from Italy, France, Great Britian, Switzerland, Austria, Greece or Spain and are interested in employing your geek skills to win a Fiat Sedici, throw yourself headlong into the Fiat/Google Earth Contest, which involves using Google Earth to sniff out a Torino location big enough to hide a car but (presumably) small enough to not be totally obvious within a few minutes. Those who aren't fortunate enough to reside in one of those countries can still enter to win an all-expenses-paid trip to Italy for a Ferrari 360 Experience (I don't know exactly what that is, but it certainly sounds cool).

Good luck to fanatical Fiat finders and to all the athletes at the Winter Games.