These were the first edition of the Olympic Winter Games to be held in Scandinavia, the birthplace of numerous winter sport disciplines. The occasion was marked by the lighting of the Olympic flame in the hearth of the home of Sondre Norheim, the pioneer of modern skiing.
Four years before hosting the summer Olympic Games in Rome, Italy welcomed the world’s best winter athletes to Cortina d’Ampezzo, a resort in the Dolomites. These were the first Olympic Winter Games to include athletes from the Soviet Union, who were housed separately from the other delegations. It was the Soviets who brought an end to Canada’s ice hockey dominance.
When Squaw Valley won the right to host the 1960 Olympic Winter Games, the future ski resort was little more than a hotel. Canada enjoyed its most successful Olympic Winter Games since 1932, winning four medals, including two gold.
After losing a close race to host the 1960 Olympic Winter Games, Innsbruck was a near-unanimous selection for 1964, winning the vote 49-9 over Calgary. It was in Innsbruck that Canada competed in Olympic bobsleigh for the first time and delivered what has been called the biggest upset in Olympic bobsleigh history.
Grenoble won the right to host the 1968 Olympic Winter Games in a close vote, 27-24, over Calgary. Canada’s star of the Games was alpine skier Nancy Greene, who in her third Olympic appearance won gold in the giant slalom and silver in the slalom.
In 1972 Sapporo became the first Asian city to host the Olympic Winter Games, winning the vote on the first ballot over three cities, including Banff. At the time, Sapporo was the largest centre to host the Winter Games. Canada’s lone medal was a silver in figure skating by Karen Magnussen.
The city of Denver was supposed to host the 1976 Olympic Winter Games, but when the people in the state of Colorado voted overwhelmingly against the use of public funds to support the Games, forcing Denver to withdraw, the IOC asked Innsbruck to step in, which it did successfully.
Lake Placid joined St. Moritz and Innsbruck as two-time hosts of the Olympic Winter Games, making the United States the first country to host three editions of the Winter Games. Although Canadian women had won five Olympic alpine skiing medals over the years, it took until 1980 for a Canadian man to get on the podium.