Surrounded by the pine-forested Dinaric Mountains, the 1984 Olympic Winter Games took place for the first and only time in a Socialist country, Yugoslavia. Initially the host city Sarajevo was buried by snow, blinded by fog and then blasted by 190km/hwinds that shredded the alpine skiing schedule. Weather aside, the host nation gained high marks for their hospitality, and there was no indication of the tragic war that would engulf the city only a few years later.
Skier Jure Franko brought joy to his country by earning Yugoslavia’s first Winter Olympics medal: a silver in the giant slalom. The 21-year-old Slovenian recorded the fourth fastest time of the first run. He then skied the best time of the second run and ended up in second position. West Germany careened to a win in the two-man luge event, propelled by its 120kg heavyweight slider Hans Stangassinger.
The biggest stars at Sarajevo were on skates. In speed skating, Canada’s Gaétan Boucher and Karin Enke each won two gold medals. By far the highlight were the performances of Great Britain’s ice dancing couple, Jayne Torvill and Christopher Dean. Their free routine to Ravel’s Bolero mesmerised the audience and earned across-the-board perfect scores for artistic impression to ensure their gold medal.
In the women’s figure skating event, East Germany’s Katerina Witt won plenty of admirers as she skated to the gold medal. Such success helped East Germany lead the medal table for the first time, with nine gold medals.
Finland’s Marja-Liisa Kirvesmiemi-Hämäläinen, who in 1994 would become the first woman to compete in six Winter Olympics, won all three cross-country skiing events for women. She added a bronze medal in the women’s 4x7.5km relay.