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Best Moments of Alpine Skiing in the Olympic Winter Games. Oslo 1952 and Cortina d'Ampezzo 1956

Oslo 1952 Winter Games, Slalom.
Oslo 1952 Winter Games, Slalom. Picture: Oslo Museum

In 1952, the Games finally came to Norway, the birthplace of modern skiing. A symbolic flame was lit in the hearth of the home of skiing pioneer Sondre Nordheim, known as the father of Telemark skiing, and the torch relay was conducted by 94 participants entirely on skis. All of the Olympic venues of Oslo 1952 were in the city's metropolitan area, except for the alpine skiing events held at Norefjell.

Oslo was awarded the 1952 Olympic Winter Games at the 1947 IOC Session in Stockholm, after winning the first-ever formal host-city selection procedure (Helsinki was similarly awarded the Summer Games). The unsuccessful candidate cities were Lake Placid and Cortina d’Ampezzo.

The Oslo Winter Olympics were held from 14 to 25 February 1952 and attracted 694 participants (585 men and 109 women) representing 30 different countries. The program consisted of four sports and 22 separate events. In Alpine skiing, the combined event was replaced by the Giant Slalom.

Andy Mead was the first American alpine skier to win two Olympic gold medals. Mead's first big international moment came in 1948 when she placed third in the Arlberg Kandahar race. Between 1948 and 1952 she won virtually every woman’s race. In 1952, Andrea Mead Lawrence continued her domination of women’s skiing by winning the two technical events (Giant Slalom and Slalom) at the Olympics.

Toni Sailer. Slalom, Cortina d'Ampezzo 1956
Anton "Toni" Sailer. Slalom, Cortina d'Ampezzo 1956

After not being able to host the games in 1944, Cortina d'Ampezzo, in the Dolomite Alps was selected to organize the Winter Olympics. Cortina d’Ampezzo was awarded the 7th Winter Games in 1949 during the 44th IOC Session in Rome, beating competition from Montreal (Canada), Colorado Springs (USA), and Lake Placid (USA).

The Cortina d’Ampezzo Winter Olympics were held from 26 January to 5 February 1956 and attracted 821 participants (687 men and 134 women) representing 32 different countries. The program consisted of four sports and 24 separate events.

Cortina d'Ampezzo 1956 was the first Winter Games to be televised, and the first Olympics ever broadcast to an international audience.

Austrian Anton "Toni" Sailer swept the men's gold medals, becoming the first person to win three alpine skiing golds in a single Olympics. Led by Sailer, the Austrians dominated the alpine skiing competition for both men and women, winning nine out of a possible eighteen medals.

Known as "The Blitz from Kitz", because of his hometown, Sailer was the greatest Alpine skier in Olympic history. Although his feat of winning all three Alpine events at the 1956 Winter Games was matched by Jean-Claude Killy 12 years later, Sailer's overall performance was far more impressive. First, he won the Giant Slalom by 6.2 seconds, the largest margin of victory in Olympic history. He then won the Slalom, recording the fastest time in both runs, and finally, he closed his participation in the Cortina d'Ampezzo 1956 Winter Games winning the Downhill by 3.5 seconds.

Sailer nearly repeated the feat at the 1958 World Championships in Bad Gastein, Salzburg, Austria, with two golds (Downhill and Giant Slalom) and a silver (Slalom).


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