Cortina D' Ampezzo 1956

Cortina D' Ampezzo 1956

The 1956 Winter Olympics were held in Cortina d’Ampezzo, Italy. For the first time, there was a massive global audience as television beamed images of Olympic skiers and skaters around the world.

The Games was notable for the first appearance by a Soviet Union team, who quickly had a lot to celebrate. They won 16 medals, including seven gold, to lead the medal table. Their speed skaters won three of the four events, while their ice hockey team ended Canada’s domination of early Olympic tournaments.

Toni Sailer, a 20-year-old Austrian plumber and future movie star, outraced his competitors by huge margins in his alpine skiing events. Nicknamed the Kitzbuhel Cannonball, he won all three men’s alpine races - the first clean sweep in Olympic history. He began by winning the giant slalom by 6.2 seconds, the largest margin of victory in the history of Olympic alpine skiing. He then won the slalom, recording the fastest time in both runs, and the downhill by 3.5 seconds.

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Australia at these Games

Australia sent a 10-person team to compete in the 1956 Winter Olympics. The team included Christine Davy, the first woman to represent Australian in alpine skiing.

Colin Hickey, the colourful character from Melbourne who was nicknamed “rink rat”, gave Australia one of its best winter performances ever when he finished seventh in both the men’s 500m and 1500m speed skating events. In both events his times – 41.9 seconds and 2 minutes 11.8 seconds – would easily have won gold medals at the previous Olympics. In 1993 he recalled some of the more primitive aspects of life as an Olympic team member: “In 1956 I was issued with no gear at all, even though I was the best performed member of the team… I couldn’t march without any kind of uniform, so I stayed in the hotel.” Hickey had learned to skate at the Melbourne Glaciarium, selling newspapers each night so he could save up and buy his own pair of skates.

Also in the Australian Winter Olympic team were alpine skiers Anthony Aslangul, William Day, Frank Prihoda and James Walker; and figure skaters Mervin Bower, Allan Ganter, Charles Keeble and Jacqueline Mason.

Australian Medallists At The Games

No records found.

History

The 1956 Winter Olympics were held in Cortina d’Ampezzo, Italy. For the first time, there was a massive global audience as television beamed images of Olympic skiers and skaters around the world.

The Games was notable for the first appearance by a Soviet Union team, who quickly had a lot to celebrate. They won 16 medals, including seven gold, to lead the medal table. Their speed skaters won three of the four events, while their ice hockey team ended Canada’s domination of early Olympic tournaments.

Toni Sailer, a 20-year-old Austrian plumber and future movie star, outraced his competitors by huge margins in his alpine skiing events. Nicknamed the Kitzbuhel Cannonball, he won all three men’s alpine races - the first clean sweep in Olympic history. He began by winning the giant slalom by 6.2 seconds, the largest margin of victory in the history of Olympic alpine skiing. He then won the slalom, recording the fastest time in both runs, and the downhill by 3.5 seconds.

In the ski jumping events, the Finnish team inaugurated a new aerodynamic style, which consisted of holding the arms flat against the body rather than over the head in a diving position.

Madeleine Berthod from Switzerland celebrated her birthday by winning the downhill by an amazing 4.7 seconds, whilst Pavel Kolchin became the first non-Scandinavian to earn a medal in cross-country skiing.

The United States began to emerge as a definite power in figure skating, with Tenley Albright winning the women’s title and Hayes Alan Jenkins leading an American medal sweep on the men’s side.

For the first time in the history of the Games, the Olympic Oath was sworn by a female athlete - the skier Giuliana Minuzzo, bronze medallist for Italy in the downhill at the 1952 Oslo Games.

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Did you know?

American athlete Eddie Eagan is the only athlete to win gold at a summer and winter Olympics in Heavyweight Boxing (1920) and bobsleigh (1932).