Innsbruck 1976

Innsbruck 1976

The 1976 Olympic Winter Games were awarded to the American city of Denver, but the residents of Colorado got cold feet. They vetoed financing the event and rejected the building of Olympic installations for ecological reasons. Innsbruck stepped in and hosted the Games for a second time only 12 years after its successful 1964 Winter Olympics.There were 37 nations competing this time, with the Soviet Union proving the most successful, winning 13 gold medals.

Figure skating made headlines. For the first time in the history of the sport at the Games, a competitor, Terry Kubicka of the United States, performed a dangerous back flip. While sensational, Kubicka only managed seventh place. The men’s event won by Great Britain’s John Curry with a new Olympic record score. In the women’s event, America’s Dorothy Hamill, as famous for her signature haircut as for her seamless style on ice, won the gold medal. A new figure skating event, ice dancing, was added to the program and, like the pairs, it was dominated by Russian couples. Read more>>>

Australia at these Games

Australia sent a team of eight athletes to compete at the 1976 Winter Olympics, five men and three women. Speed skater Colin Coates, competing at his third Olympics, carried the Australian flag in the Opening Ceremony and achieved the best results of an Australian at the Winter Games up to that time. Racing in all five men’s skating events, he placed sixth in the 10,000m, eighth in the 1500m, 10th in the 5000m, 11th in the 1000m and 23rd in the 500 metres. Coates, 29, had once been coached by Colin Hickey, himself a triple Winter Olympian for Australia.

Coates was an extraordinary athlete who would represent Australia six times at the Winter Olympics. As well, he was a three-time Australian and ten-time Victorian champion in a 14-foot sailing dinghy, a good ice hockey player and a competitive cyclist. Originally from Elwood, Melbourne, he spent around 15 winters in the Netherlands, working at his trade as a plumber. From 1974 to 1984 he was ranked among the top 20 speed skaters in the world. 

Other members of the Australian team in Innsbruck were alpine skiers Kim Clifford, David Griff, Robert McIntyre, Joanne Henke and Sally Rodd; and figure skaters Billy Schober and Sharon Burley.

Australian Olympians At The Games

Flag Bearers

Olympian Name Ceremony
Colin Coates Opening

Australian Medallists At The Games

No records found.

History

The 1976 Olympic Winter Games were awarded to the American city of Denver, but the residents of Colorado got cold feet. They vetoed financing the event and rejected the building of Olympic installations for ecological reasons. Innsbruck stepped in and hosted the Games for a second time only 12 years after its successful 1964 Winter Olympics.There were 37 nations competing this time, with the Soviet Union proving the most successful, winning 13 gold medals.

Figure skating made headlines. For the first time in the history of the sport at the Games, a competitor, Terry Kubicka of the United States, performed a dangerous back flip. While sensational, Kubicka only managed seventh place. The men’s event won by Great Britain’s John Curry with a new Olympic record score. In the women’s event, America’s Dorothy Hamill, as famous for her signature haircut as for her seamless style on ice, won the gold medal. A new figure skating event, ice dancing, was added to the program and, like the pairs, it was dominated by Russian couples.

Winning gold for Austria were local skiing heroes Franz Klammer, in the downhill and Karl Schnabl in the 90m ski jump. Klammer recovered from a slow start to beat Switzerland’s Bernhard Russi, the 1972 champion. According to Klammer, the best moment of his Olympic triumph was "when Bernhard came running up to me and gave me a big hug. It was the most sincere congratulations of all."

West Germany’s Rosi Mittermaier won two of the three women’s alpine skiing events, the downhill and the slalom. Canada’s Kathy Kreiner pipped her in the giant slalom, destroying her chance of becoming the only woman to win all three events. Mittermaier claimed second place and returned home a hero with two gold medals and silver.

Games Trivia

At the 1976 Innsbruck Winter Olympics, two Olympic cauldrons were lit. This was a symbol of the Winter Games being held twice in the same city (Innsbruck hosted the Games in 1964). The 1964 cauldron was lit by Christl Haas, an alpine skiier. The 1976 caludron was lit by luge athlete Josef Feistmantl.

Innsbruck 1976 Cauldrons

Thank You Sponsors

Did you know?

Chantelle and Robert Newbery became the first husband and wife to win medals at the same Olympic Games in Athens 2004. Clayton and Lucinda Fredericks (equestrian) also achieved this feat at the 2008 Beijing Games.