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The 1976 Winter Olympics, officially known as the XII Olympic Winter Games (French: XIIes Jeux olympiques d'hiver, German: Olympische Winterspiele 1976), were a winter multi-sport event which was celebrated February 4–15, 1976 in Innsbruck, Austria. It was the second time the Tyrolean city hosted the Games, which were awarded to Innsbruck after Denver, the original host city, withdrew in 1972.

XII Olympic Winter Games
1976 Winter Olympics logo.png
The emblem represents the coat of arms of Innsbruck, which shows the bridge on the Inn River that connects the old town and the Hötting district. The bridge and the Olympic rings symbolize the link that ties the many peoples of the world with friendship through the Olympic Games. The top of the coat of arms has two indents which match two of the Olympic rings and represent the 1964 and 1976 Winter Games which Innsbruck celebrates.
Host city Innsbruck, Austria
Nations participating 37
Athletes participating 1123
(892 men, 231 women)
Events 37 in 6 sports (10 disciplines)
Opening ceremony February 4
Closing ceremony February 15
Officially opened by President Rudolf Kirchschläger
Athlete's Oath Werner Delle-Karth
Judge's Oath Willy Köstinger
Olympic Torch Christl Haas and Josef Feistmantl
Stadium Bergisel
Sapporo 1972 Lake Placid 1980  >
Munich 1972 Montreal 1976  >


Host selectionEdit

The cities of Denver, Colorado, United States; Sion, Switzerland; Tampere, Finland; and Vancouver (with the Garibaldi mountains), Canada, made bids for the Games. The chart below displays the vote count for the 69th IOC meeting at Amsterdam, Netherlands, on May 12 1970.

Original 1976 Winter Olympics bidding results[1]
City Country Round 1 Round 2 Round 3
Denver   United States 29 29 39
Sion    Switzerland 18 31 30
Tampere   Finland 12 8
VancouverGaribaldi   Canada 9

As seen from the table, the games were originally awarded to Denver[2][3][4] but a 300% rise in costs and worries about environmental impact led to Colorado voters' rejection on November 7, 1972, by a 3 to 2 margin, of a $5 million bond issue to finance the games with public funds.[5][6][7] Denver officially withdrew on November 15, and the IOC then offered the games to Whistler, British Columbia, Canada, but they too declined owing to a change of government following elections. Whistler was later associated with neighbouring Vancouver's successful bid for the 2010 games. Salt Lake City, Utah, a 1972 final candidate who eventually hosted in 2002, was offered by the U.S. Olympic Committee in early January 1973 as a substitute host.[8][9] By the end of the month and lacking federal assistance,[10] Mayor Jake Garn of Salt Lake City withdrew their bid,[11][12] and Lake Placid was soon offered by the USOC.[13]

On February 4, 1973 IOC selected Innsbruck as a last minute option. They had hosted the games in 1964 and because of that should be able to prepare for the games in the time that was left.[14][15]


The mascot of the 1976 Winter Olympics was Schneemann, German for "snowman", a snowman in a red Tyrolean hat. Designed by Walter Põtsch, Schneeman was purported to represent the 1976 Games as the "Games of Simplicity". It was also regarded as a good-luck charm, to avert the dearth of snow that had marred the 1964 Winter Olympics in Innsbruck.[16][17]


  • First Games under the presidency of Michael Morris, 3rd Baron Killanin
  • Austrian favorite Franz Klammer won the men's downhill event in alpine skiing in 1:45.73, after great pressure from his country and defending champion Bernhard Russi of Switzerland.
  • Dorothy Hamill of the US won the gold in figure Skating, and inspired the popular "wedge" haircut.[18]
  • Elegant British figure skater John Curry altered his routine to appeal to Olympic judges, winning gold.[19]
  • American figure skater Terry Kubicka attempted – and completed – a dangerous backflip in figure skating.
  • Rosi Mittermaier of West Germany nearly swept the women's alpine skiing events, earning two golds and a silver, missing the third gold by 0.13 seconds.[20]
  • Soviet speed skater Tatiana Averina won four medals. The U.S. team won six medals in speed skating.[21]
  • In the 4-man bobsled, the East German team won the first of three consecutive titles.
  • The USSR won its fourth straight ice hockey gold medal; for the second consecutive Olympics, Canada refused to send a team, protesting amateur rules. Sweden joined the boycott.
  • Sports technology, in the guise of innovative perforated skis, sleek hooded suits and streamlined helmets appeared in alpine skiing, speed skating and ski jumping, making headlines in Innsbruck.[22]
  • A second cauldron for the Olympic flame was built to represent the 1976 Games. Both it and the cauldron from the 1964 games were lit together.
  • Bobsleigh and luge competed on the same track for the first time ever.
  • Galina Kulakova of the Soviet Union finished 3rd in the women's 5 km ski event, but was disqualified due to taking a nasal spray that contained the banned substance ephedrine. Both the FIS and the IOC allowed her to compete in the 10 km and the 4×5 km relay.[23] This was the first stripped medal at the Winter Olympics.


Bergisel in 2004

Medals awardedEdit

There were 37 events contested in 6 sports (10 disciplines). Ice dancing made its debut to the Olympics. See the medal winners, ordered by sport:

Participating nationsEdit

37 nations participated in the 1976 Winter Olympic Games. The games marked the final time the Republic of China (Taiwan) participated under the Republic of China flag and name. After most of the international community recognized the People's Republic of China as the legitimate government of all China, the ROC was forced to compete under the name Chinese Taipei, under an altered flag and to use its National Banner Song instead of its national anthem. Andorra and San Marino participated in their first Winter Olympic Games.

Participating National Olympic Committees

Medal countEdit

(Host nation highlighted)

Rank Nation Gold Silver Bronze Total
1   Soviet Union 13 6 8 27
2   East Germany 7 5 7 19
3   United States 3 3 4 10
4   Norway 3 3 1 7
5   West Germany 2 5 3 10
6   Finland 2 4 1 7
7   Austria 2 2 2 6
8   Switzerland 1 3 1 5
9   Netherlands 1 2 3 6
10   Italy 1 2 1 4

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ "Past Olympic host city election results". GamesBids. Archived from the original on March 17, 2011. Retrieved March 17, 2011. 
  2. ^ "Denver and Montreal awarded 1976 Olympic Games". Lewiston Morning Tribune. (Idaho). Associated Press. May 13, 1970. p. 13. 
  3. ^ "Denver, Montreal shock Olympic site hopefuls". Deseret News. (Salt Lake City, Utah). UPI. May 13, 1970. p. 1D. 
  4. ^ Rapaport, Roger (February 15, 1971). "Olympian snafu at Sniktau". Sports Illustrated: 60. 
  5. ^ "Colorado only state ever to turn down Olympics". Archived from the original on June 1, 2009. Retrieved March 23, 2011. 
  6. ^ "The Games that got away – 2002 Winter Olympics coverage". Archived from the original on September 1, 2010. Retrieved March 23, 2011. 
  7. ^ "'76 Olympics: where now?". Deseret News. (Salt Lake City, Utah). Associated Press. November 8, 1972. p. D1. 
  8. ^ "S.L. gains Winter Olympics nod". Deseret News. Salt Lake City, Utah). January 4, 1973. p. 1A. 
  9. ^ "Salt Lake proposed as Winter Olympics site". Lewiston Morning Tribune. (Idaho). Associated Press. January 5, 1973. p. 21. 
  10. ^ "Lack of federal funding may end Olympic hopes". Lewiston Morning Tribune. (Idaho). Associated Press. January 30, 1973. p. 13. 
  11. ^ Constanzo, Joe (January 30, 1973). "S.L. mayor withdraws Olympic bid". Deseret News. (Salt Lake City, Utah). p. 2B. 
  12. ^ "Salt Lake withdrawal may not leave U.S. out". Lewiston Morning Tribune. (Idaho). Associated Press. January 31, 1973. p. 15. 
  13. ^ "Lake Placid assured of welcome". Lewiston Morning Tribune. (Idaho). Associated Press. February 2, 1973. p. 22. 
  14. ^ "Innsbruck, Austria gets 76 Olympic Winter Games". Spartanburg Herald. (South Carolina). Associated Press. February 5, 1973. p. B1. 
  15. ^ "Innsbruck given Winter Olympics". Pittsburgh Press. UPI. February 5, 1973. p. 25. 
  16. ^ International Olympic Committee. "Olympic Winter Games Mascots from Innsbruck 1976 to Sochi 2014". Archived from original June 3, 2014. Retrieved April 10, 2017.
  17. ^ Australian Olympic Committee. "A history of winter mascots". Retrieved April 10, 2017.
  18. ^ Dorothy Hamill bio. Retrieved on July 7, 2011.
  19. ^
  20. ^ Infoplease. Infoplease (February 1, 2009). Retrieved on July 7, 2011.
  21. ^ Retrieved on July 7, 2011.
  22. ^ CBC.CA. CBC.CA. Retrieved on July 7, 2011.
  23. ^ "1976 Winter Olympics". Olympics at Sports Reference LLC. Archived from the original on 20 January 2011. 

External linksEdit