Supriya Ghosh (Editor)

1964 Winter Olympics

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Host city  Innsbruck, Austria
Opening ceremony  January 29
Nations participating  36
Closing ceremony  February 9
1964 Winter Olympics
Athletes participating  1091 (892 men, 199 women)
Events  34 in 6 sports (10 disciplines)

The 1964 Winter Olympics, officially known as the IX Olympic Winter Games (French: Les IXes Jeux olympiques d'hiver) (German: Olympische Winterspiele 1964), was a winter multi-sport event which was celebrated in Innsbruck, Austria, from January 29 to February 9, 1964. The Games included 1091 athletes from 36 nations, and the Olympic Torch was carried by Joseph Rieder, a former alpine skier who had participated in the 1956 Winter Olympics.


The Games were affected by the deaths of Australian alpine skier Ross Milne and British luge slider Kazimierz Kay-Skrzypeski, during training, and by the deaths, three years earlier, of the entire US figure skating team and family members.

Host city selection

Innsbruck had to compete with Calgary, Canada, and Lahti, Finland for the right to host the 1964 Winter Olympics. Here is the resulting vote count that occurred at the 55th IOC Session in Munich, West Germany, on May 26, 1959.

Games highlights

  • The games was opened by a concert performed by Vienna Philharmonic, under the baton of Karl Böhm. Beethoven's 7th Symphony and Mozart's 40th Symphony were performed in the opening concert.
  • Normally snowy Innsbruck was threatened by a lack of snow. The Austrian army carved out 20,000 ice bricks from a mountain top and transported them to the bobsled and luge runs. They also carried 40,000 cubic meters of snow to the Alpine skiing courses. The army packed down the slopes by hand and foot.
  • Lidia Skoblikova won all of the women's speed skating events, an achievement not matched by a man until Eric Heiden at the 1980 Lake Placid Games.
  • Italian bobsleigh pilot Eugenio Monti distinguished himself by helping Britain's Tony Nash and Robin Dixon to win the gold medals when he loaned them an axle bolt to replace one that was broken. The Italians took bronze, but Monti was honored as the first recipient of the Pierre de Coubertin medal for sportsmanship.
  • Egon Zimmermann of Austria took the gold medal in the men's downhill alpine skiing event.
  • In the 4 man bobsled, the Canadian team won the gold medal with a total winning time of 4:14.46.
  • Norway's Knut Johannesen won the men's 5,000m speed skating event in an Olympic record time of 7:38.40.
  • Klavdiya Boyarskikh of the USSR earned three gold medals in cross-country skiing and, on the men’s side, Finnish Eero Mäntyranta won two and earned the nickname "Mr. Seefeld" after the venue because of his domination.
  • In alpine skiing, French sisters Christine and Marielle Goitschel finished first and second in both the slalom and the giant slalom.
  • Ski jumping gained a second event, and the sport of luge made its Olympic debut.
  • Politically, the Games were notable because East and West Germany entered a combined team.
  • The USSR won the most medals and the most gold medals at the Games.
  • For the first time the Closing Ceremonies were held at a different place than the Opening Ceremonies.
  • Medal winners

    Medals were awarded in 34 events contested in 6 sports (10 disciplines).

  • Biathlon (1) ()
  • Bobsleigh (2) ()
  • Ice hockey (1) ()
  • Luge (3) ()
  • Skating
  • Figure skating (3) ()
  • Speed skating (8) ()
  • Skiing
  • Alpine skiing (6) ()
  • Nordic skiing ()
  • Cross-country skiing (7) ()
  • Nordic combined (1) ()
  • Ski jumping (2) ()
  • Demonstration sport

  • Ice stock sport
  • Venues

  • Axamer Lizum – Alpine skiing (all but men's downhill)
  • Bergiselschanze – Ski jumping (large hill)
  • Bob und Rodelbahn Igls – Bobsleigh, luge
  • Eisschnellaufbahn – Speed skating
  • Messehalle – Ice hockey
  • Olympiahalle – Figure skating, ice hockey
  • Patscherkofel – Alpine skiing (men's downhill)
  • Seefeld – Biathlon, cross-county skiing, Nordic combined, ski jumping (normal hill)
  • Participating nations

    36 nations sent athletes to compete in Innsbruck. India, Mongolia, and North Korea participated in the Winter Games for the first time. Athletes from West Germany (FRG) and East Germany (GDR) competed together as the United Team of Germany from 1956 to 1964.

    Medal count

    These are the top ten nations that won medals at these Games:

    Prior tragedies

    Two tragedies prior to the 1964 Winter Olympics affected the outcome and mood of the Games:

  • Australian alpine skier Ross Milne and British luge slider Kazimierz Kay-Skrzypeski died during training shortly before the Games started. The organising committee said that Ross crashed into a tree during a training run. The IOC suggested that inexperience may have played a role in Ross's death, whereas Australian manager John Wagner suggested that overcrowding played a role, saying that he tried to slow down "on a spot which was not prepared for stopping or swinging" to avoid a crowd of contestants. His brother Malcolm Milne competed at the 1968 and 1972 Winter Olympics.
  • On February 15, 1961, the entire US Figure Skating team and several family members, coaches, and officials were killed when Sabena Flight 548 crashed in Brussels, Belgium en route to the World Championships in Prague. This tragedy sent the US skating program into a period of rebuilding. The loss of the U.S. team was considered so catastrophic for the sport that the 1961 World Championships were cancelled, and impacted later Winter Olympics.
  • References

    1964 Winter Olympics Wikipedia

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