Squaw Valley 1960

Games History

The 1960 Olympic Winter Games were held in Squaw Valley, a remote site in the Sierra Nevada Mountains, USA. When Alexander Cushing put forward the town’s bid to the International Olympic Committee in 1955, the resort did not even exist! He was the only inhabitant and homeowner in the whole place (300km from San Francisco and 1,900m above sea level). With absolutely no facilities, everything from skating rinks to ski runs, lifts and lodging had to be built from scratch.

The organising committee refused to build a bobsled run because only nine nations had indicated an intention to take part. This created huge controversy prior to the Games. It was the only time that bobsledding was not included on the Olympic program.

For the first time, women competed in speed skating and the Soviet school teacher, Lydia Skoblikova clinched two of the medals. She became the first winter athlete to win six career gold medals.

A new sport, biathlon (a combination of cross-country skiing and shooting) was added to the Olympic program. The first race was won by Klas Lestander of Sweden.

At the age of 35, Finnish cross-country skier Veikko Hakulinen had already won two gold medals, but his most memorable Olympic exploit was yet to come. As the anchor of the Finnish relay team, he took off 20 seconds after Norway's Brusveen, winner of the 15km race. One hundred metres from the finish line, he took the lead to win by one metre.

Male speed skater Yevgeny Grishin gained victories in the 500m and the 1,500m, just as he had in 1956. By far the biggest surprise of the Games was the championship victory by United States ice hockey team, upsetting both Canada and the USSR.