The first winter sports to be
included in the Olympic Games were skating and ice hockey, at 1908 Olympics in
Here are some outstanding Winter Olympic Games…
CHAMONIX FRANCE, 1924
The first true “white Olympics”
however were held at Chamonix in 1924.
In 1921 the International Week of Winter Sport was launched, with demonstrations of cross country skiing, Nordic combined, ski jumping, artistic skating, speed skating, bobsled and ice hockey.The great hero was a Finn, Clas Thunberg, who was recorded for a total of six hours of speed skating.
The 1956 Games at Cortina were
dominated by the Soviets, that entering the winter games for the first time, won
six of the twenty-four gold medals.
Also the U.S. figure skating team was dominant, winning five medals. Tenley Albright was the women’s champion and Hayes Jenkins won the men’s title yet the individual star was Tony Sailer from Austria, who won all the three Alpine Skiing events.
The cross-country skiing 10000 m event was won by Swedish Sigvard Ericsson. Norway leave the Olympic games without winning a gold medal in speed skating for the first time in twenty-four years.
GRENOBLE FRANCE, 1968
site for the Winter Olympics, including construction of a stadium solely for
the opening ceremonies.
France’s Jean-Claude Killy won gold medals in all three Alpine skiing events (slalom, downhill and giant slalom) with relative ease.
As a matter of fact, Austria’s Karl Schranz won slalom competition but he was disqualified for missing a gate after extensive study of videotape by officials.
Another popular winner was Carlo Monti of Italy. He won nine world championships, two silver medals and two bronzes. The 39 years old Monti announced his retirement after driving teams to victory in the two- and four-man bobsledding events.
Among all the gold medals that they won, we remember with pleasure the one got by Mario Armano from Novara in the four-man bobsledding event.
SAPPORO JAPAN, 1972
Brundage, in his last year as president of the IOC, had long crusaded against
commercialization of Olympic sports and, before the opening of the Winter Games
of Sapporo, he decided to make an example of Alpine skiing, which had become
highly commercialized in Europe.
He wanted to ban virtually every world-class skier from competition for taking money from equipment manufacturers.
The International Ski Federation and the Japanese organizers protested, and Brundage had to back down.
After that, the Sapporo Games went off without trouble.
The major European stars were: the 17 years old Marie-Therese Nadig of Switzerland, who won both the downhill and the giant slalom; and Gustavo Thoeni who won a gold medal in men’s giant slalom in the Alpine skiing event.
LAKE PLACID USA, 1980
Having been denied the Winter Olympics as a
bicentennial celebration, the United States hosted the games four years later
the last Winter Olympic Games in Innsbruck.
There were two double winners in Alpine skiing, Hanny Wenzel and Ingemar Stenmark of Sweden, the greatest alpine skier in history. During his career he achieved 86 successes in the World Cup and won consecutively seven slalom and giant slalom World Cups (1975-1981) and three World Cup overall men’s titles.
He ruled the men’s alpine events with gold medals in the slalom and giant slalom.
ALBERTVILLE USA, 1992
and Summer Olympics Games were held in the same year. Two new sports, short
track speed skating and freestyle, were on program for the first time.
German team edged the Unified Team in gold medals, ten to nine; Norway also had nine medal, six of them in cross country skiing. Alberto Tomba, nicknamed Tomba la bomba (Tomba the bomb), finished first again in the giant slalom to become the first Alpine skier in Olympic history to win the same event twice. He also gained the silver medal in the slalom.
Deborah Compagnoni took gold in the super giant slalom.
Stefania Belmondo triumphed in the 30 Km cross country and won silver in the Nordic combined; while another Italian champ on whom so many people had put their hopes.
Manuela Di Centa could do no better than sixth in an individual event (30 Km). Only later it was found out that she had a malfunctioning thyroid gland.
LILLEHAMMER NORWAY, 1994
Italy got a record: twenty medals: a good
reward to the athletes and the trainers that had worked hard in view of the
Manuela Di Centa gave her best in the cross country and was appointed “queen of the games”, by winning gold in the 15 and 30 Km individual, silver in the 5 and 15 Km pursuit and bronze in the relay.
Silvio Fauner, Maurilio De Zolt, Marco Albarello and Giorgio Vanzetta took victory in the 4x10 Km relay, upsetting those with the home ground advantage and that were sure to win as they had always proved to be the best before.
SALT LAKE, 2002
It saw the expansion of the Olympic programme to seventy- eight events, including the return of Skeleton and the introduction of women’s bobsleigh. It witnessed one of the most thrilling men’s find of ice hockey that had ever been seen: Canada, that had missed an Olympic title for more than 50 years, triumphed over the USA that had been unbeaten on home ground for 70 years.