A quality holiday at a snowy resort is a great annual treat for winter sports fans. With so many resorts guaranteeing snowy slopes and superb facilities it can be hard to choose a destination – there are so many great ones to choose from.
Perhaps a look at some of the cities which have hosted Winter Olympics over the years might provide some inspiration for avid skiers and skaters planning a winter get-away.
And following in the snowy footprints of some famous sporting figures who represented GB during the golden Olympic era of 1976 to 1988 is really something to write home about!
Innsbruck, Austria: 1976
This Austrian resort’s reputation as a brilliant winter sports centre has been enhanced by its hosting of the Winter Olympics – its handling of the 1964 Games was so good that it did the honours again in 1976.
For the Austrians, the highlight of the 1976 Games was the victory of home favourite Franz Klammer in the downhill skiing event.
Klammer’s breathtaking display was a reminder of just how far the skiing event had come since 1936 – when Olympic organisers banned ski instructors from participating, on the grounds that they were professionals.
For Britons, Innsbruck 1976 was all about John Curry’s gold medal success – the figure skater’s routines combined ballet and modern dance; capturing the hearts of both spectators and judges.
Lake Placid, New York: 1980
It seems strange to think of Winter Olympic skiing taking place in New York, yet this is what happened in 1980 at Whiteface Mountain – a major ski resort in New York State.
With a little artificial snow bussed in to help the competitors, Sweden’s Jan Ingemar Stenmark cemented his reputation as one of the world’s greatest skiers by winning both the giant slalom and the slalom.
British success could again be found in the figure-skating event – Robin Cousins winning gold in the event which John Curry had triumphed in four years earlier.
In 1984, Sarajevo was located in Yugoslavia – this was the first time that a communist country had hosted the Winter Olympics.
Storms and strong winds threatened to disrupt the skiing events at Bjelasnica and Jahorina but at Zetra Ice Hall there were no such problems as British ice-dancing duo Jayne Torvill and Christopher Dean earned perfect across-the-board scores for artistic impression in the free dance. This feat has never yet been matched in Olympic competition.
Canada’s Calgary hosted the Winter Games in 1988 – an event which became famous as much for its losers as for its winners.
The name of ski jumper Eddie the Eagle will be far more familiar to many British sports fans than the name of multi-gold medallist Matti Nykanen or even ski legend Alberto Tomba. Yet Eddie (real name: Michael Edwards) finished last in both the 70m and 90m jumping events – perhaps handicapped by the fact that his glasses steamed up when he was at the top of the ski slope and that he had to wear six pairs of socks during self-funded training sessions.
His relatively poor performance resulted in him being labelled a ‘ski-dropper’ rather than a ski-jumper by one bemused Italian commentator and yet Edwards qualified for the Olympics on merit as the British record-holder and a man who could stunt-jump six double decker buses.
In keeping with his reputation for failure, Edwards couldn’t even consider himself the biggest loser at the Games. He finished both his events; a feat which was beyond the Jamaican bobsled team who didn’t even officially finish after losing control and crashing during one of their four runs.
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