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Best Moments of Alpine Skiing in the Winter Games. Garmisch-Partenkirchen 1936 / St. Moritz 1948

The Garmisch-Partenkirchen Winter Olympic Games were held from February 6 to 16, 1936, and attracted 646 participants (566 men and 80 women) representing 28 different countries. The program consisted of four sports and 17 events.

On 6 February 1936, Chancellor Adolf Hitler declared the 4th Olympic Winter Games open. The Olympic Oath was sworn by the skier, Willy Bogner.

Alpine skiing was included for the first time in Garmisch-Partenkirchen 1936, in a Combined format (Downhill and Slalom), with events for both Men and Women. This was the last time the Summer and Winter Olympics were held in the same country in the same year. Controversy arose immediately when the IOC declared that ski instructors could not compete in the Olympic Games because they were professionals. Austrian and Swiss skiers boycotted the events and refused to compete at the games. As a result, the IOC withdrew skiing from the next Games, scheduled for 1940.

Both Downhills were run on Kreuzjoch and the two Slalom races at Gudiberg. Franz Pfnür and

Christl Cranz-Borchers from Germany were the first Olympic champions in Alpine Skiing history, they both won the gold medal in the Combined event.

After becoming Alpine skiing’s first female Olympic champion, Cranz continued to collect medals at a dizzying rate, winning three golds in the 1937 world championships in Chamonix (Slalom, Downhill, and Combined) and repeating the feat two years later in Zakopane (Poland). In 1938 she won the Slalom and the Combined at the championships held in Engelberg (Switzerland).

The 1948 Olympic Winter Games were awarded to St. Moritz in 1946, during the 40th IOC Session held in Lausanne and following the recommendation of the IOC’s Executive Board. There were very

few viable alternatives; Switzerland’s neutral stance during the Second World War had ensured that the country escaped the damage suffered by others, and therefore St. Moritz had the necessary infrastructure and facilities to host the Games.

The St. Moritz Winter Olympics were held from 30 January to 8 February 1948 and attracted 669 participants (592 men and 77 women) representing 28 countries. The program consisted of four sports and 22 separate events.

After a 12-year break caused by World War II, St. Moritz 1948 Games was named the "Games of Renewal”. Switzerland's neutrality had protected the Alpine city in the Engadine Valley during World War II, and most of the venues were used in the 1928 games, which made this a logical choice. St. Moritz became the first city to host a Winter Olympics twice.

In 1936 the IOC made the controversial decision to ban ski instructors from competing in the alpine skiing events, and as a result of the Swiss and Austrian boycott in Garmisch-Partenkirchen eliminated skiing from the program at future Winter Games. The matter was finally resolved on October 1, 1946, when a compromise was reached between the two warring parties, and alpine skiing was again incorporated into the 1948 Games calendar.

The 1948 Winter Games gave the first Gold Medal to an American Skier. Competing in the Slalom, Gretchen Fraser recorded the fastest time in the first run. As she prepared to lead off the second run, a problem developed in the telephone timing system. Despite a 17-minute delay at such a critical time, she skied fast enough to earn the gold medal: the first-ever by an American skier. She also won the silver medal in Alpine Combined.

Henri Oreiller was the first French Olympic ski champion. Nicknamed the "Parisian of Val d'Isère" or the ‘crazy downhiller’, the Downhill Oreiller careened down the slope wildly, but always regained his balance and, in the end, just as he had predicted, he won by a huge margin, completing the course four seconds faster than any of the other competitors. Two days later, Oreiller took part in the Combined event. He skied the Downhill portion five seconds faster than the other competitors and then recorded the fifth-fastest time on the Slalom course to earn his second gold medal. The following day, he won a bronze medal in the Slalom event, moving up from fourth to third with his second run.


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