1956 Winter Olympics

Facts

Competition type Olympic Games
Host city Cortina d'Ampezzo, Italy (Venues)
Opening ceremony 26 January
Closing ceremony 5 February
Competition dates 26 January – 5 February
OCOG Comitato organizzatore dei VII. Giochi olimpici invernali 1956
Participants 821 from 32 countries
Medal events 24 in 8 disciplines

Overview

Cortina d’Ampezzo was awarded the 1956 Olympic Winter Games in 1949, with the bid led by the Italian IOC member Count Alberto Bonacossa. Unfortunately, Count Bonacossa never saw the fruits of his efforts, dying in January 1953. But his plans were carried out, and Cortina held a marvelous Olympics. The sites were very centralized which made for few logistical traffic problems, as is often the case in the mountain resorts usually used for Winter Olympics. Only the speed skating events were held outside Cortina, on Lake Misurina, about 11 miles from the center of the town.

Politically, the 1956 Cortina Games marked the first time that the Soviet Union competed at the Olympic Winter Games, although they had competed in 1952 at Helsinki. The Soviets immediately excelled at speed skating and, in an upset, began their domination of ice hockey when they defeated the Canadians. Germany entered a single combined team from West and East Germany, at the request of the IOC.

The Cortina Olympics began ominously when the torch bearer at the opening ceremonies, speed skater Guido Caroli, tripped over a microphone wire and fell. However, he was not harmed and the torch did not go out. After that initial difficulty, the Games were a wonder. A woman, skiier Giuliana Chenal-Minuzzo, spoke the oath of the athlete’s at the opening ceremony for the first time.

The hero of the Cortina Olympics was movie idol-handsome Toni Sailer of Austria, “The Blitz from Kitz” (Kitzbühel). Sailer won all three alpine skiing events by large margins of victory each time. In ski jumping, the Finns introduced a new aerodynamic style when they placed their arms against their sides rather than forward in front of their heads. With the new method Antti Hyvärinen and Aulis Källakorpi took first and second, respectively. The figure skating competitions saw two very close contests although Americans swept the men’s medals, with Hayes Alan Jenkins winning. Among the women, Tenley Albright barely defeated Carol Heiss. Heiss and Jenkins would later marry.

Bid process

Bid voting at the 44th IOC Session in Rome on 28 April 1949.

Round 1
Cortina d'Ampezzo Italy 31
Montréal Canada 7
Colorado Springs, Colorado United States 2
Lake Placid, New York United States 1

Ceremonies

Officially opened by Giovanni Gronchi (President)
Torchbearer(s) Guido Caroli (Lit flame)
Taker of the Athlete's Oath Giuliana Chenal-Minuzzo
Flagbearers Full list

Medal Disciplines

Alpine Skiing Figure Skating Ski Jumping
Bobsleigh Ice Hockey Speed Skating
Cross Country Skiing Nordic Combined

Medal table

NOC Gold Silver Bronze Total
Soviet Union URS 7 3 6 16
Austria AUT 4 3 4 11
Finland FIN 3 3 1 7
Switzerland SUI 3 2 1 6
Sweden SWE 2 4 4 10
United States USA 2 3 2 7
Norway NOR 2 1 1 4
Italy ITA 1 2 0 3
Germany GER 1 0 1 2
Canada CAN 0 1 2 3
Japan JPN 0 1 0 1
Hungary HUN 0 0 1 1
Poland POL 0 0 1 1

Most successful competitors

Athlete Nat Gold Silver Bronze Total
Toni Sailer AUT 3 0 0 3
Yevgeny Grishin URS 2 0 0 2
Sixten Jernberg SWE 1 2 1 4
Veikko Hakulinen FIN 1 2 0 3
Lyubov Kozyreva-Baranova URS 1 1 0 2
Sigvard Ericsson SWE 1 1 0 2
Pavel Kolchin URS 1 0 2 3
Fyodor Terentyev URS 1 0 1 2
Tenley Albright USA 1 0 0 1
Madeleine Chamot-Berthod SUI 1 0 0 1
Renée Colliard SUI 1 0 0 1
Mirja Hietamies FIN 1 0 0 1
Siiri Rantanen FIN 1 0 0 1
Sirkka Polkunen FIN 1 0 0 1
Ossi Reichert GER 1 0 0 1
Sissy Schwarz AUT 1 0 0 1
Robert Alt SUI 1 0 0 1
Heiri Angst SUI 1 0 0 1
Nikolay Anikin URS 1 0 0 1
Yevgeny Babich URS 1 0 0 1
Vsevolod Bobrov URS 1 0 0 1
Hallgeir Brenden NOR 1 0 0 1
Giacomo Conti ITA 1 0 0 1
Lamberto Dalla Costa ITA 1 0 0 1
Gottfried Diener SUI 1 0 0 1
Aleksey Guryshev URS 1 0 0 1
Antti Hyvärinen FIN 1 0 0 1
Hayes Jenkins USA 1 0 0 1
Franz Kapus SUI 1 0 0 1
Nikolay Khlystov URS 1 0 0 1
Yury Krylov URS 1 0 0 1
Alfred Kuchevsky URS 1 0 0 1
Valentin Kuzin URS 1 0 0 1
Vladimir Kuzin URS 1 0 0 1
Yury Mikhaylov URS 1 0 0 1
Grigory Mkrtychan URS 1 0 0 1
Viktor Nikiforov URS 1 0 0 1
Kurt Oppelt AUT 1 0 0 1
Yury Pantyukhov URS 1 0 0 1
Nikolay Puchkov URS 1 0 0 1
Boris Shilkov URS 1 0 0 1
Viktor Shuvalov URS 1 0 0 1
Genrikh Sidorenkov URS 1 0 0 1
Nikolay Sologubov URS 1 0 0 1
Sverre Stenersen NOR 1 0 0 1
Ivan Tregubov URS 1 0 0 1
Dmitry Ukolov URS 1 0 0 1
Aleksandr Uvarov URS 1 0 0 1

All medalists at these Games