The Olympic Winter Games were finally held in a Nordic country and Norway worked hard to make these excellent Olympics. The Norwegians renovated the famed Holmenkollen ski jump for the 1952 Winter Olympics. A restaurant and shops were placed under the take-off ramp, and an outdoor standing room stadium area was constructed that allowed 130,000 people to watch the ski jumping events. At the request of the International Ice Hockey Federation, the Norwegian Organizing Committee built an indoor ice hockey rink, the first time that ice hockey was held indoors at the Olympics.
The 1952 Olympic Winter Games were opened on 15 February by Her Royal Highness Princess Ragnhild, granddaughter of the head of state. She was chosen because her father, Crown Prince Olav, and grandfather, King Haakon VII, were in London attending the funeral of King George VI of Great Britain. For the first time an Olympic flame was lit at the opening ceremony of the Olympic Winter Games. Unlike the summer flame, however, this flame was orginally lighted from the hearth of the house in Morgedal, Norway, where Sondre Norheim, the outstanding pioneer of modern skiing, was born. At the end of a ski relay, the flame was lit in the Bislett Stadium by Eigil Nansen, grandson of the explorer Fridtjof Nansen, whose book, The First Crossing of Greenland, had given modern skiing its most important intellectual impetus.
The program of events was changed only a little for 1952, with the addition of cross-country skiing for women, and giant slalom Alpine skiing events for men and women. The Alpine combined event was dropped from the program, but it would eventually return, in 1988. Norway’s athletes dominated the events, especially so Hjalmar Andersen who won three gold medals in speed skating. In Alpine skiing, the handsome Stein Eriksen of Norway seemed the embodiment of a modern ski hero. He won the giant slalom and was second in the slalom. Dick Button of the United States won his second consecutive men’s figure skating championship. In women’s skiing, Andrea Mead-Lawrence (USA) won two events in upsetting the European women. One of these was the giant slalom that was held on 14 February, for some reason, the day before the opening ceremony.
In bobsledding, Germany won both the two-man and four-man events. Their “athletes” in this event were so large that their momentum helped them win by increasing their speed. This caused the International Bobsleigh Federation to change its rules to place a weight limit on bobsled teams.