1960 Winter Olympics

Facts

Competition type Olympic Games
Host city Squaw Valley, United States (Venues)
Opening ceremony 18 February
Closing ceremony 28 February
Competition dates 19 – 28 February
OCOG Organising Committee VIII Olympic Winter Games
Participants 665 from 30 countries
Medal events 27 in 8 disciplines

Overview

When the 1960 Olympic Winter Games were awarded to Squaw Valley, California, all that existed there was a hotel. The ski village was the dream of Alexander C. Cushing and he succeeded in convincing the IOC to hold the Olympics there. Squaw Valley’s obscurity was best exemplified at the closing ceremony of the 1956 Olympic Winter Games. Traditionally the mayor of the host city hands the Olympic flag over to the mayor of the next host city. But Squaw Valley was an unincorporated village and did not have a mayor. U.S. Congressman Harold T. Johnson, representing Squaw Valley’s district, was drafted to stand in and receive the flag from former Italian bobsledder Renzo Menardi, deputy mayor of Cortina.

After the award the Europeans verbally attacked the site for various reasons. The ski courses were not up to FIS calibre in the alpine competitions, while in the nordic races, the altitude (2,000 metres [6,650 feet]) was felt to be too stressful for the competitors. The Squaw Valley organizers polled the Winter Olympic nations and found that only nine would send a bobsled team so they elected not to build a run and not to contest the sport. The bobsled federation (FIBT) was furious and petitioned the IOC to change the ruling, but Squaw Valley was adamant. No Olympic bobsled events were on the 1960 program, so the FIBT held world championships only two weeks later in Cortina d’Ampezzo, Italy.

In all, despite the initial misgivings about the site, the Games were well run with few problems. And U.S. television was present, showing the events to the American people for the first time. The simple village of Squaw Valley put on quite a show, led by famed Hollywood movie and television producer Walt Disney, who was placed in charge of pageants and ceremonies. The athletes liked the rustic setting, in which they could walk to most of their events from the village, which gave the Games a homey, close-knit atmosphere. This was the days before massive Olympic security.

The program was also changed a bit, in addition to the absence of bobsledding. Biathlon was introduced as a sport for the first time. Women’s speed skating made its Olympic début and saw the arrival of Lidiya Skoblikova (URS) who won two gold medals. She would return in 1964 to win all four events on the schedule.

In figure skating, Hayes Jenkins’ brother, David Jenkins, won the men’s titles, while David Jenkins future sister-in-law, Carol Heiss, avenged her 1956 defeat to easily win the women’s title. In the nordic combined event, Georg Thoma (FRG) became the first non-Scandanavian to win a nordic event. In ice hockey, the United States pulled a major upset when they defeated the Soviet Union in the semi-final match. The U.S. went on to defeat Czechoslovakia in the finals and win the gold medal. Not as well publicized as the miracle of 1980, the U.S. victory in 1960 was equally astonishing.

Bid process

Bid voting at the 51st IOC Session in Paris on 14 June 1955.

Round 1 Round 2
Squaw Valley, California United States 30 32
Innsbruck Austria 24 30
Garmisch-Partenkirchen West Germany 5
St. Moritz Switzerland 3

Ceremonies

Officially opened by Richard Nixon (Vice-President)
Torchbearer(s) Ken Henry (Lit flame)
Taker of the Athlete's Oath Carol Heiss
Flagbearers Full list

Medal Disciplines

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

Medal table

NOC Gold Silver Bronze Total
Soviet Union URS 7 5 9 21
Germany GER 4 3 1 8
United States USA 3 4 3 10
Norway NOR 3 3 0 6
Sweden SWE 3 2 2 7
Finland FIN 2 3 3 8
Canada CAN 2 1 1 4
Switzerland SUI 2 0 0 2
Austria AUT 1 2 3 6
France FRA 1 0 2 3
Netherlands NED 0 1 1 2
Poland POL 0 1 1 2
Czechoslovakia TCH 0 1 0 1
Italy ITA 0 0 1 1

Most successful competitors

Athlete Nat Gold Silver Bronze Total
Lidiya Skoblikova URS 2 0 0 2
Yevgeny Grishin URS 2 0 0 2
Veikko Hakulinen FIN 1 1 1 3
Mariya Gusakova URS 1 1 0 2
Helga Haase GER 1 1 0 2
Håkon Brusveen NOR 1 1 0 2
Sixten Jernberg SWE 1 1 0 2
Knut Johannesen NOR 1 1 0 2
Viktor Kosichkin URS 1 1 0 2
Ernst Hinterseer AUT 1 0 1 2

All medalists at these Games