The 1964 Winter Olympics were held in Innsbruck, Austria. When a lack of snow put the Games at risk, 3,000 Austrian troops hauled 40,000 cubic metres of snow to Olympic ski runs and carted 20,000 bricks of ice from Alpine peaks to line the luge and bobsleigh runs. When rain caused further havoc ten days before the Opening Ceremony, the army packed down the slopes by hand and foot.
1,091 (892 men, 199 women) competitors from 36 nations participated in 6 sports and 34 events over a fortnight. 14 nations managed to win medals – Soviets won the gold medal tally with 11, Austria 2nd with 4, Norway 3rd with 3 with Finland, France, Germany and Sweden in the next places all with 3 gold.
The Soviet Lydia Skoblikova, who had been a star at the 1960 Winter Olympics, won all four women’s speed skating events. She became the first athlete to win four gold medals in one Winter Olympics, taking her career tally to a record six gold medals. The Soviet Union’s Klaudia Boyarskikh earned three gold medals in cross-country skiing and Eero Mäntyranta of Finland won two. The sport of luge made its Olympic debut and ski jumping gained a second event, the normal hill, in addition to the large hill event. The best story from alpine skiing was the success of French sisters Marielle and Christine Goitschel: Marielle won the giant slalom, with her older sister taking silver; however, in the slalom, Christine reversed the result to win the gold, with Marielle the silver medallist. A legend of Nordic skiing, Sweden’s Sixten Jernberg, won the men’s 50km cross-country event to cap his career – retiring with 4 gold, 3 silver and 2 bronze medals – a record which remained unmatched for many years.
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