|Host city Grenoble, France|
Opening ceremony 6 February
|Nations participating 37|
Closing ceremony 18 February
|Athletes participating 1158
(947 men, 211 women)|
Events 35 in 6 sports (10 disciplines)
The 1968 Winter Olympics, officially known as the X Olympic Winter Games (French: Les Xes Jeux olympiques d'hiver), were a winter multi-sport event which was celebrated in 1968 in Grenoble, France and opened on 6 February. Thirty-seven countries participated. Norway won the most medals, the first time a country other than the USSR had done so since the USSR first entered the Winter Games in 1956.
- Host city selection
- Torch relay
- Visual appearance
- Medal winners
- Participating nations
- The two Germanys
- Medal count
- Medals and diplomas
- Events, timetable and results
- Opening Ceremony
- Closing Ceremony
- Top athletes and performances
- Doping and gender control
- Media coverage
Frenchman Jean-Claude Killy won three gold medals in all the alpine skiing events. In women's figure skating, Peggy Fleming won the only United States gold medal. The games have been credited with making the Winter Olympics more popular in the United States, not least of which because of ABC's extensive coverage of Fleming and Killy, who became overnight sensations among teenage girls.
The year 1968 marked the first time the IOC first permitted East and West Germany to enter separately, and the first time the IOC ever ordered drug and gender testing of competitors.
Host city selection
On 24 November 1960 the prefect of the Isère Département, François Raoul and the president of the Dauphiné Ski Federation; Raoul Arduin, officially presented for the first time the idea of hosting the 1968 Winter Olympic Games in Grenoble. After the city council agreed in principle, different government agencys offered their support and also the villages around Grenoble reacted positively, an applications committee was formed and led by Albert Michallon, the former mayor of Grenoble on 30 December 1960. The application was officially given to the IOC during a meeting between IOC executives and representatives of international sport agencies in Lausanne in February 1963.
In the application the decision was not solely based on sport because in the Isère Département there had only been two important sport events, the Bobsleigh World Championships of 1951 in L'Alpe d'Huez and the Luge World Championships of 1959 in Villard-de-Lans. Between 1946 and 1962 the number of inhabitants in Grenoble increased from 102,000 to 159,000, and the total inhabitants in the Département Isère increased from 139,000 to 250,000. The development of the infrastructure could not keep up with this rapid increase and was for the most part at the same level as before the Second World War. The people who were responsible never made a secret out of it that it was mainly for them about using the Olympic Games to receive larger grants to quickly develop dated infrastructure and support the local economy.
The 61st IOC session, where the awarding of the Olympic Games should have been voted for, should have taken place in Nairobi. This session was moved to Baden-Baden because Kenya refused entry to IOC members from Portugal and South Africa for political reasons. Due to a lack of time only the Summer Games of 1968 could be voted for. The vote finally took place in Innsbruck on 28 January 1964, one day before the start of the 1964 Winter Olympic Games. 51 members who were eligible to vote were in attendance and Grenoble were awarded the games after the third round of voting and were competing against Calgary, who were awarded the Games 20 years later.
After Grenoble was voted as the host city the French National Olympic Sports Committee decided the foundation of the organisation committee. The Comité d’Organisation des dixièmes Jeux Olympiques (COJO), the committee for the organisation of the 10th Olympic Games, started to plan the games for the first time on 1 August 1964. Albert Michallon, alongside being the former mayor of Grenoble, was also president of COJO. The upper panel was made up of the general assembly with its 340 members and the supervisory board conduct business with 39 members, 19 of which were appointed and the other 20 were voted for. The general secretary consisted of five main departments and 17 subordinate departments. The number of employees grew to 1920 in February 1968.
The French government played a major role in the preparations for the Games because president Charles de Gaulle saw an opportunity in the Winter Olympic Games to present Grenoble as a symbol for a modern France. Minister for Youth and Sport Francois Missoffe formed an interministerial committee for the coordination of the work commissioned by prime minister Georges Pompidou. Just over 7000 soldiers of the French armed forces and also employees of the ministries for Youth and Sport, Finance, Social Building, Education, Post, Culture and Transport were employed. The sum of the investments contributed to 1.1 billion Francs (roughly 775 million pounds). The government contributed 47.08%, the Isere Department 3.65%, the city of Grenoble 20.07% and the surrounding communities 1.37%. Different institutions, such as the train company SNCF; the television broadcaster ORTF; the government housing association and the regional association of hospitals provided the rest of the money.
These means were used accordingly - 465.181 million Francs for the infrastructure of transport and communications, 250.876 million for the olympic village and press area, 92.517 million for the sports arenas, 57.502 million for television and radio, 45.674 million for culture, 95.116 million for the city's infrastructure and 90.429 million for the running of COJO. They built a new airport, two motorway sections of 7.5 miles and 15 miles, a switchboard, a new town hall, a new police station, a fire station, a hospital with 560 beds, a congress and exhibition centre and a culture palace. They upgraded the access road to the outer sport arenas, an orbital road round Grenoble as well as relocating the rail tracks and removing the level crossings and building a completely new main train station.
To test the new sport complex and to improve organisational processes they organized "International Sports Weeks". From 20 January to 19 February 1967 speed skating competitions and ski races took place, from 12 to 15 October 1967 an ice hockey tournament and from 23 to 25 November a figure-skating competition.
On 16 December 1967, the olympic torch was lit in ancient Olympia in Greece. The ceremony initially should have taken place on 13 December but it had to be postponed because of the (in the end unsuccessful) coup d'état of King Constantine II, who had been forced from his throne eight months before, against the dictatorial military regime of Georgios Papadopoulos. The route of the torch relay at first led over Mount Olympus to Athens. From there, the torch was flown by an Air France Boeing 707 to the Paris-Orly airport. There the torch was received by Jean Vuarnet, the 1960 Downhill Olympic gold medalist, on 19 December, who handed it on to the first torchbearer Alain Mimoun, the 1956 Marathon Olympic gold medalist.
The torch relay in France went over a distance of 7,222 kilometers through 41 districts and 170 towns to the Isère district. All in all 5,000 torchbearers, who transported the torch on foot, by bike, by boat, by skies or by motorbike, took part in the relay. The part of the way that led through the old harbour of Marseilles was done by a diver who, while swimming, held the torch just over the surface of the water. The torchbearers were accompanied by around 80,000 athletes and watched by an audience of about two million people. The last stop on the day before the opening ceremony was Saint-Pierre-de-Chartreuse. From there, the torch was carried to Grenoble. The 33 torches that were used in the relay were produced by the Société technique d'équipement, a firm of the Compagnie de Saint-Gobain. They were 70 cm tall, weighed 1750 g, were made of copper and had a propane gas tank. The reserve flames (a cautionary measure in case the torch went out) burned in twenty carbide lamps, the same as the Olympic fire when it was transported from Athens to Paris in a plane.
The logo portrays a floating snow crystal, which is surrounded by three stylised roses and is on top of the single-coloured (in white) Olympic rings. The roses can be found in the same pattern (two on the top and one below) as Grenoble's emblem. The logo is surrounded by "Xes Jeux Olympiques d'Hiver 1968 Grenoble" (The 10th Winter Olympic Games, 1968, Grenoble.)
For the first time there was an Olympic mascot, although it was unofficial. The mascot was called Schuss, who is a stylised skier wearing a blue skiing costume and a large red ball as a head. The mascot designed by Aline Lafargue was hardly recognised publicly. It had unofficial character, was marked with great restraint and appeared solely on pins and several toys.
Jack Lesage, who specialised in mountain and winter sport recordings filmed two Olympic advertisements of 15–18 minutes in length before the Olympic Games took place contracted by the Organisation Committee. "Trois roses, cinq anneaux" (Three roses, five rings) emerged in 1966 and showed Grenoble as well as the surrounding venues in the early stage of the preparation. in 1967 "vaincre à Grenoble (Victory in Grenoble), which documented the progress of the workers, complemented with images of the sport competitions. Both films appeared in three different versions with French, English and German commentary. In France the films were shown in cimemas before particular feature films, abroad for receptions and presentations.
The French post office issued six Olympic themed postage stamps. On 22 April 1967 a label next appeared worth 0.60 francs with the official logo as its motif. On 27 January 1968, 10 days before the opening ceremony, a series of five semi-postal stamps followed. The designs were ski jumpers and skiers (0.30++ 0,10 F), ice hockey players (0.40 + 0,10 F), the olympic torch (0.60 + 0.20 F), a female ice skater (0.75 + 0.25 F) and slalom racers (0.95 + 0.35 F). The proceeds from the supplement stamps were split between the French Red Cross and the Organisation Committee.
There were five other venues surrounding Grenoble used as sporting venues for the Olympics Games in 1968. Like never before seen at a Winter Olympic Games, the venues were divided into four different places. Grenoble set a new trend by having venues in different parts of the surrounding area. Before it was common place to have all the venues together. Compared to the investments for the infrastructure, the investments for building sports arenas was very small. This investment only contributed nine percent.
Almost half of this investment, 46 million Francs, was used to build the new ice rink Stade de glace (today Palais des Sports), and where group A's ice hockey matches, the figure skating competition and the closing ceremony all took place. The arena has 12,000 seats and is situated in Parc Paul Mistral, Grenoble's town park located in the centre of the city. The architects were Robert Demartini and Pierre Junillon. Construction began in mid-November 1965 and finished in October 1967. The roof was made of two cylindrical which crossed over each other, four columns which could support 10,000 tonnes. Today the arena is used for concerts, fairs and various other sporting events (among others six-day races since 1971)
Less than 100m away from the Stade de glace, and also in Parc Paul Mistral, the 400m track for the speed skating events was installed between February and November 1966. The venue Patinoire de vitesse which does not have a roof and in the middle of it has a practice ice-rink, had a capacity of 2,500. The cooling system was removed after a few years and today the concrete track is used by roller skaters. The only ready venue was the city's ice-rink patinoire municipale, which opened in September 1963, next to the speed skating track, where the 1964 Figure Skating European Championship took place. The arena, which has 2,000 seats and 700 can stand, was the venue for Group B's ice hockey matches.
The venue for the alpine skiing took place in Chamrousse, a town 30 kilometres east of Grenoble. The finishing line for five out of the six races was in the region of Recoin de Chamrousse, the other was the men's downhill event was in Casserousse. In the construction of the new ski slopes around 300,000m³ of rocks had to be blown up or dug away, particularly large movements of the earth and changes to the terrain were necessary in the upper part of the men's downhill section and in the slalom section. In addition six new chairlifts were installed. In the preparation of the slopes over 10,000 people were needed, this consisted mainly of soldiers.
In Autrans, 36 kilometres west of Grenoble in Vercors Massif, the cross-country skiing event and biathlon took place there. Provisional stands at the finish line were available for spectators, which were to the north and southwest of the village. Also in Autrans, the ski jumping in the normal hill took place. The ski jumping hill of Le Claret is still in use today. It originally had a hill size of 70m, but later was made bigger and now measures 90m high.
The 90m hill could have been built without any problems in Autrans, but the organisors decided instead to use Saint-Nizier-du-Moucherotte, 17 kilometres away from Grenoble, as well as Vercors-Massif. The relatively small distance to the city and the better accessibility guaranteed a larger audience. The construction period lasted from July 1966 to January 1967. After the games the Dauphine hill was only rarely used for competitions and since 1990 it closed down and fell into ruin. A third Olympic venue in the Vercors-Massif was Villard-de-Lens, 34 kilometres from Grenoble, where the luge competition took place. The track is exactly 1,000m long, has 14 curves and has a drop of 110m. After it temporarily closed down in 1994 it was remodelled. Today it now has an artificial surface which makes it possible to use all-year-round. It is no longer used for competitions.
The third Olympic venue in Vercors Massif was 34 km away from Grenoble in the commune of Villard-de-Lans, where the luge competition took place. The track for the luge was exactly 1 km long, had 14 corners and had a drop of 110m. After the track was temporarily closed in 1994, it was rebuilt at today's location. It has an artificial surface, which makes using the track all year round possible. For competitions it is no longer used.
The furthest distance, which is also the highest, is L'Alpe d'Huez, 65 kilometres southeast of Grenoble. The bobsleigh took place at Col de Poutran at a height of around 2,000m. It was 1,500m long, had 13 corners and had a drop of 140m. It was principally a natural course but three of the corners were exposed to direct sunlight and was kept artificially frozen by ammonia and liquid nitrogen. In L'Alpe d'Huez a replacement course was made available for the alpine skiing.
The Olympic village was located in the southern part of the city on the border with the suburbs of Échirolles and Eybens. On the site of the former airport Grenoble-Mermoz, a large housing estate with 6,500 rooms was built in two years. A primary school, a secondary school, a nursery, a youth centre, a shopping centre and a library were all built as part of the construction of the housing estate. All of these were still in use after the Olympic Games. The male athletes were housed in a tower block and in eleven apartment blocks. The female athletes lived in a building with 263 individual rooms, which later went on to serve as a home for workers. In other buildings on the estate housed around 12,000 trainers, officials, timekeepers, volunteers, police and drivers. The catering took plate in a future school kitchen. Two more, much smaller Olympic villages were available to the Nordic and Alpine skiers as well as their physios. Holiday homes were also newly built and were located in Autrans and Chamrousse. One year before the Olympics, at the pre-Olympic competitions there was great adversity. The accommodation did not meet the necessary standards, so much so the Austrian team left. This led the hosts to have a rethink and make improvements.
There were 35 events contested in 6 sports (10 disciplines).
A total of 37 nations sent athletes to compete at these Games. Morocco competed at the Winter Games for the first time in Grenoble.
In Grenoble, there was 1158 athletes and 37 teams, which was a new record in terms of the number of participants. This was Morocco's first appearance at the Winter Olympics.
The two Germanys
Similar to the Summer Olympics 1952, when Saarland who had sent its own team but had not been integrated as a part of West Germany, there were two teams participating from Germany.
For the first time, the German Democratic Republic (East Germany) was present with its own team. It was provisionally accepted into the IOC, so long as East Germany formed a complete German team consisting of athletes from both the West and East. This had to be done under the leadership of the National Olympic Committee for Germany, a board recognised by the IOC. Following on from this the National Olympic Committee of East Germany tried to achieve complete recognition. This did not work out because of resistance from Karl Ritter von Halt, the president of the National Olympic Committee for Germany, who was close friends with the IOC president Avery Brundage. After Halt died in 1961, the same year that the Berlin Wall was built, under his successor Willi Daume the close contact with the IOC leadership was lost. In addition the reality of the split made the qualification almost impossible. On 8 October 1965 the IOC decided to accept East Germany as a full member. In order to avoid existing restrictions concerning NATO countries, such as the ban on all East German symbols, in particular the flag with socialist symbols introduced in 1959, both national olympic committees agreed on using the same flag and anthem. The black-red-gold flag with the white Olympic rings in the middle of it has been used at all Olympic Games since 1960, as well as the replacement anthem "Ode an die Freude" (Ode to Joy) from Beethoven's 9th symphony, which was used previously. Both countries presented themselves as completely independent from 1972.
On 21 January 1968, Ralph Pöhland, who was 21, was one of the most famous East German winter olympians, fled to West Germany after the pre-Olympic tournament at Les Bioux, Switzerland. His assistant in helping to flee was Georg Thoma, a West German ski jumper. This incident lead to relationships between the two German teams turning sour, which never used to be the case.
These are the top ten nations that won medals at the 1968 Winter Games.
Medals and diplomas
For the Olympic Winter Games in Grenoble, in total 228 gold, silver and bronze medals were manufactured. They were designed by Roger Excoffon and was coined by the French minting company Monnaie de Paris. For the first time in Olympic history, the medals, given out for the winners in every sport, had their own design. The logo of the games was depicted on the front of the medal and on the other was a pictogram etched into the surface, that depicted the sport the medal winner competed in. The medals had an diameter of 50 mm (2 in) and were 3 mm (0 in) thick. The gold and silver medals consisted of silver with a composition of 925/1000, but the gold medals were coated in an additional six grams of gold. The medals hang of ribbons in the Olympic colours, which happened to also be a first, before 1968 they had used chains. In addition, the athletes received a box made of black leather, which was lined with either white, blue or red silk.
The commemoration medal was designed by Josette Hébert-Coeffin. The front side of the medal depicted the decorated head of a Greek athlete with snowflakes and ice crystals in the background. The other side of the medal depicted the silhouette of Grenoble in front of the mountain range Belladonne. There were three different types of medals. 20 were made of silver, 210 of silver-coated bronze and 15,000 of bronze.
Excoffon also designed the Olympic diplomas, which were given to the six best athletes in each discipline. They were made of cream coloured parchment paper. Around the logo contained the words "Xes Jeux Olympiques d’Hiver Grenoble 1968" as well as the Olympic motto - Citius, altius, fortius, meaning quicker, higher, stronger. In the middle of the paper, the word "Diplome" was written in gold writing. However, similar diplome were handed out to officials, participants, journalists and volunteers on ordinary white paper and without the gold writing as a souvenir.
The medal ceremony took place in the evening of the finals event in the Stade de glace.
Events, timetable and results
Compared to the Winter Olympics in 1964 in Innsbruck, the number of disciplines increased to 35, the men's biathlon relay was also added.
On 4 February, two days before the official opening ceremony, three ice hockey preliminary matches took place, in order to place three further teams into Group A alongside the five teams already assigned to the group. The losers were placed into Group B.
For the opening ceremony, a temporary stadium was built supported by scaffolding and was able to hold 60,000 spectators. The Stade inaugural was situated in the immediate vicinity to the Olympic Village and press centre. At the back of the stadium there was a steel scaffold which kept host to the Olympic flame, located in a 4m wide bowl at the top, which also was able to take 550 kg in weight. There was also stairs leading to the top, containing 96 flights.
The ceremony began on 6 February at 3pm, a Tuesday afternoon, with the French president Charles de Gaulle in attendance. Among the 500 invited guests of honour was IOC president Avery Brundage, the Irani empress Farah Pahlavi, the Danish Crown Princess Margrethe and the Grand Duchess of Luxembourg Josephine Charlotte. After the Marseillaise was sung, the French national anthem, cultural performances followed.
The procession of the athletes into the stadium was traditionally led by the Greek team. The other teams proceeded into the stadium in alphabetical order, starting with West Germany (Allemagne) and then East Germany (Allemagne d'Est). The last team out was the hosts, the French team. Albert Michallon, president of COJO, said in his speech that all athletes and visitors are welcome. Brundage again recollected Pierre de Coubertin's ideals and expressed the hope of these ideals lead to a peaceful and less materialistic world. He invitet Charles de Gaulle to open the Games. De Gaulle appeared on the stage and read out the opening set-phrase.
14 Chasseurs Alpins soldiers carried the Olympic flag into the stadium and put it up. The organisers had decided against the usual tradition of letting the peace dove fly. Instead they let out 500 small Olympic flags on paper parachutes and 30,000 perfumed artificial roses from three helicopters over the stadium. Following this, the figure skater Alain Calmat was the last torch bearer to enter the stadium. He climbed up the steps to the bowl, where his heartbeat amplified over the loudspeakers. Once at the top, he lit the Olympic flame.
Shortly afterwards, skier Leo Lacroix read out the Olympic oath. At the end, the Patrouille de France, the aerobatic flight display team, flew over the stadium and marked out the colours of the Olympic rings with their vapour trails in the sky.
The Winter Olympics ended on 18 February, on a Sunday evening, with the closing ceremony in the Stade de glace. The first highlight showed the figure skaters putting on an exhibition skating session. It also included ice dancing, an event that was first introduced into the main programme in 1976. The best ten partners from the last World championship took part in the event and there was no scores. After that the last award ceremonies then took place.
After the Marseillaise was played, all athletes who were still in Grenoble reassembled onto the ice and the flag bearers formed a semi-circle. Whilst the flags of Greece, France and next host Japan were put up, a torch bearer brought the Olympic flame into the stadium and ignited it into a bowl on the ice. IOC president Avery Brundage thanked the organisers and declared the games over. When the Olympic flag was pulled down, gun salutes were heard all across the town and finally the flame went out.
Top athletes and performances
At the age of 11 years and 158 days, the Romanian figure skater Beatrice Huștiu became the youngest female participant at these Winter Games. She took part in the singles event and finished in 29th place, which was 3rd from bottom. The youngest male participant was aged 12 years and 110 days. He was also a figure skater called Jan Hoffmann, who represented East Germany. In Grenoble he finished in 26th place and was also 3rd from bottom. In 1974 and 1980 he became world champion and also in 1980 he won silver in the Olympic Games at Lake Placid.
The American speed skater Dianne Holum was the youngest medal winner. She won silver in the 500m event at the age of 16 years and 266 days. Two days later she added a bronze by competing in the 1000m event. The youngest gold medal winner was also from the USA: She was figure skater Peggy Fleming, who won at the age of 19 years and 198 days.
The oldest medal winner and at the same time oldest gold medal winner was the Italian Eugenio Monti: He won the gold medal in the four man bobsleigh team at the age of 40 years and 25 days. Five days before that he had also won the two man bobsleigh team gold medal.
Doping and gender control
The public became more and more aware of the doping issue during the 1960s. The first death caused by doping at the Olympic Games happened in 1960 in Rome, when the Danish cyclist Knut Enemark Jensen, who took amphetamines, fell off his bike and died. This took a further four years until the IOC recognised the seriousness of the situation and created a medical commission. In 1967, the IOC followed the example set by other sport associations and proclaimed a ban on doping. For the first time, doping control was carried out at the 1968 Winter Olympics. The IOC tested 86 athletes but all the tests came back negative.
Also in 1967, the IOC decided to carry out gender controls, in order to prevent hermaphrodites from competing at women's competitions. Multiple female athletes from Eastern Europe immediately retired after the IOC had decided this, which led to a lot of speculation. Erik(a) Schinegger, the female downhill 1966 world champion from Austria, was tested a couple of days before the Winter Games in 1968, it turned out she was actually a man. Schinegger, whose gender had not been correctly identified for years because she had internal male sex organs, decided to have the operation and changer her first name from Erika to Erik.
The media representatives lived in an apartment complex that was built between April 1966 and October 1967 a few hundred meters away from the Olympic village in Malherbe, a central part of Grenoble. The complex consisted of seven eight to ten floored towers totalling 637 flats, an underground car park and a school. The school housed an IBM computer center, a copy center, the studios of the French radio and TV broadcaster ORTF and broadcasters from other countries, photo laboratories and other technical amenities. The offices of the newspaper and photo journalists, of the technicians and of the general administration were situated on the bottom floors of the towers, the other floors served as accommodation. The press restaurant was later used as a car park. There were also smaller press centers in the Stade de glace in Grenoble and at the five other venues in Autrans, Chamrousse, L'Alpe d'Huez, Saint-Nizier-du-Moucherotte and Villard-de-Lans.
The organising committee COJO assigned 1,545 accreditations to the following people. 1,095 went to press, radio and television journalists, 301 to photographers and 149 to other unnamed groups. On 19 September 1966, COJO signed an exclusive contract with ORTF for the provision of broadcasting on the television to EBU's catchment area and to Canada. On 14 February 1967, the American Broadcasting Company (ABC) received the exclusive broadcasting rights for the US and Latin America. On 15 October 1967, NHK received the rights to broadcast in Japan.
For the first time in the history of the Olympic Games, the Games were transmitted in colour. ORTF installed 25 colour and 37 black and white cameras (ABC had an independent broadcasting system). The total broadcasting time lasted 150 hours and 15mins, 91 hours and 25 mins were in colour. The total number of viewers was recorded at 600 million,
Concerning the question of scoring the men's freestyle figure skating and the unfortunate circumstances of the men's slalom, the Bild am Sonntag published the title "Am Ende kam der große Krach" (At the end there was a great bust-up). The "Münchner Merkur" said that they would have tolerated Schranz's disqualification, but the incidents in the figure skating had led to a bitter after taste.