1976 Winter Olympics

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XII Olympic Winter Games
Emblem of the 1976 Winter Olympics[a]
Host cityInnsbruck, Austria
Athletes1,123 (892 men, 231 women)
Events37 in 6 sports (10 disciplines)
Opening4 February 1976
Closing15 February 1976
Opened by

The 1976 Winter Olympics, officially known as the XII Olympic Winter Games (German: XII. Olympische Winterspiele, French: XIIes Jeux olympiques d'hiver) and commonly known as Innsbruck 1976 (Austro-Bavarian: Innschbruck 1976), were a winter multi-sport event celebrated in Innsbruck, Austria, from February 4 to 15, 1976. The games were awarded to Innsbruck after Denver, the original host city, withdrew in 1972. This was the second time the Tyrolean capital had hosted the Winter Olympics, having first done so in 1964.

Host selection[edit]

The cities of Denver, Colorado, United States; Sion, Switzerland; Tampere, Finland; and Vancouver (with most events near Mount Garibaldi), British Columbia, Canada, made bids for the Games. The host was decided at the 69th IOC meeting in Amsterdam, Netherlands, on May 12, 1970.[1][2]

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

In a statewide referendum on 7 November 1972, Colorado voters rejected funding for the games, and for the first (and only) time a city awarded the Winter Games rejected them.[3] Denver officially withdrew on 15 November, and original runner-up Sion declined to host the Olympics. Afterwards, the IOC then offered the games to Whistler, British Columbia, Canada, but they too declined owing to a change of government following elections. Salt Lake City offered to host the games, but the IOC, still reeling from the Denver rejection, declined and selected Innsbruck to host the 1976 Winter Olympics, which had hosted the 1964 Winter Olympics games twelve years earlier, on 5 February 1973.


The mascot of the 1976 Winter Olympics was Schneemann, a snowman in a red Tyrolean hat. Designed by Walter Pötsch, 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.[4][5]


The official poster of the 1976 Winter Olympics
  • 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 United States won the gold in figure skating and inspired the popular "wedge" haircut.[6]
  • Elegant British figure skater John Curry altered his routine to appeal to Olympic judges, winning gold.[7]
  • 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.[8]
  • Soviet speed skater Tatiana Averina won four medals.[9]
  • 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 the rules that allowed the USSR to field professional players while limiting Canada to amateurs. Sweden also joined the boycott.[10]
  • 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.[11]
  • 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 a positive test for banned substance ephedrine. She claimed that this was a result of using the nasal spray that contained the substance. Both the FIS and the IOC allowed her to compete in the 10 km and the 4×5 km relay.[12] This was the first stripped medal at the Winter Olympics.
  • The Austrian anthem was played three times at the closing ceremony during the beginning, the victory ceremony and the handover ceremony to honor the three verses of the anthem.


Bergisel in 2004

Medals awarded[edit]

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

Participating nations[edit]

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

Number of athletes by National Olympic Committees[edit]

Medal count[edit]

Pentti Peltoperä and Tuula Vilkas who represented Finland in speed skating events

These are the top ten nations that won medals at the 1976 Winter Games.

  *   Host nation (Austria)

1 Soviet Union136827
2 East Germany75719
3 United States33410
4 Norway3317
5 West Germany25310
6 Finland2417
7 Austria*2226
8 Switzerland1315
9 Netherlands1236
10 Italy1214
Totals (10 entries)353531101

Documentary film[edit]

In 1977, White Rock, a documentary film about the Innsbruck Winter Olympics was released.[13][14] The film was narrated by James Coburn,[13] and directed by Tony Maylam.[15][13][14] It was nominated for the Robert Flaherty Award (Feature Length Film, Documentary In Content) at the 30th British Academy Film Awards.[16] The film's soundtrack was composed by English keyboardist Rick Wakeman. His album, White Rock entered the UK Albums Chart on 12 February 1977, where it spent 9 weeks and reached number 14.[17]

See also[edit]



  1. ^ 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.


Further reading[edit]

  • Berg, Adam (2023). The Olympics that Never Happened: Denver '76 and the Politics of Growth. Austin: University of Texas Press. ISBN 9781477326459.
  1. ^ a b "Past Olympic host city election results". GamesBids. Archived from the original on January 24, 2011. Retrieved March 17, 2011.
  2. ^ "North America Gets '76 Olympics; Montreal Summer, Denver Winter". The Spokesman-Review. Associated Press. May 13, 1970. p. 14. Retrieved December 8, 2022 – via Newspapers.com.
  3. ^ Sanko, John (October 12, 1999). "Colorado only state ever to turn down Olympics". Rocky Mountain News. Archived from the original on June 1, 2009. Retrieved March 16, 2011.
  4. ^ International Olympic Committee. "Olympic Winter Games Mascots from Innsbruck 1976 to Sochi 2014". Archived from original June 3, 2014. Retrieved April 10, 2017.
  5. ^ Australian Olympic Committee. "A history of winter mascots". Retrieved April 10, 2017.
  6. ^ Dorothy Hamill bio. Factmonster.com. Retrieved on July 7, 2011.
  7. ^ Olympic.org
  8. ^ Infoplease. Infoplease (February 1, 2009). Retrieved on July 7, 2011.
  9. ^ Kiat.net Archived March 13, 2008, at the Wayback Machine. Kiat.net. Retrieved on July 7, 2011.
  10. ^ "Story #17".
  11. ^ CBC.CA. CBC.CA. Retrieved on July 7, 2011.
  12. ^ Evans, Hilary; Gjerde, Arild; Heijmans, Jeroen; Mallon, Bill; et al. "1976 Winter Olympics". Olympics at Sports-Reference.com. Sports Reference LLC. Archived from the original on 20 January 2011.
  13. ^ a b c "White Rock (1977)". IMDb. Retrieved October 2, 2017.
  14. ^ a b "Rick Wakeman – White Rock". Discogs. Retrieved October 2, 2017.
  15. ^ "White Rock (1977)". British Film Institute. Archived from the original on October 2, 2017. Retrieved October 2, 2017.
  16. ^ "BAFTA Awards". British Academy of Film and Television Arts. Retrieved October 2, 2017.
  17. ^ "White Rock". Official Charts Company. Retrieved October 2, 2017.

External links[edit]

Winter Olympics
Preceded by XII Olympic Winter Games

Succeeded by