A history of Winter mascots - Part two
12 April 2017
While the athletes rightfully garner all the attention at an Olympic Games there is an elite group that goes about their business silently and without fuss. That group is mascots, and it is time they were given their due.
Here is the second part of a brief history of Winter Olympic mascots, which constitute some of the finest examples of the Olympic spirit that you will ever encounter.
If you missed part one check it out here>>>
‘Haakon’ and ‘Kristin’ the children. Lillehammer, 1994 – Finally, a mascot we can all relate to! 1994 was the first year to feature human mascots at an Olympic Games. ‘Haakon’ and ‘Kristin’ were two happy Norwegian children kitted out in traditional Viking dress. Both their names and their clothing are a nod to the historical roots of Norway and Scandinavia.
But these kids were anything but old-fashioned. They represented the importance of youth and the issues facing modern children, such as environmental awareness and preservation. In support of this idea, Games organisers chose eight pairs of boys and girls from over 10,000 applicants to represent the different regions of Norway, suggesting there is a little ‘Haakon’ and ‘Kristin’ in all of us.
‘Sukki’, ‘Nokki’, ‘Lekki’ and ‘Tsukki’ the owls. Nagano, 1998 – The 1998 Nagano Olympics were always going to be a hoot with this crew. Two mascots had already been done, so organisers decided to go all out and double it. Thus the ‘Snowlets’ were born, the Olympic’s answer to The Spice Girls.
These four owls are replete with symbolic reference. Their names take on the planet’s natural elements, through Sukki (fire), Nokki (air), Lekki (earth) and Tsukki (water). Together they also represent the four major islands of Japan and are believed to be a tribute to the four years of the Olympiad. Complex and chirpy, these birds were a great addition to the Mascot alumni.
‘Powder’, ‘Copper’ and ‘Coal’. Salt Lake City, 2002 – They say variety is the spice of life and it seems the organisers of the 2002 Salt Lake City Games agreed when they settled on their mascots. Three Utah pals from very different walks of life, ‘Powder’, a snowshoe hare, ‘Copper’, a coyote, and ‘Coal’, a black bear represented the diversity and richness of Utah’s land.
The three also combined to form the perfect Olympian, with the hare’s speed, the coyote's ability to climb the highest mountaintops and the black bear's strength illustrating the Olympic motto ‘Citius, Altius, Fortius’ (faster, higher, stronger). In addition, the three animals were often the major protagonists in Native American legends, passed on from generation to generation, making them a fitting and adorable connection between past and present.
Neve and Gliz. Turin, 2006 – If there was a prize for the happiest Olympic mascots, it would be very hard to go past these two. ‘Neve’ the snowball and ‘Gliz’ the ice cube won the hearts and minds of the Winter Olympic community with their constant cheery disposition. ‘Neve’, dressed in red, represented calmness, friendship and elegance, while ‘Gliz’ in his blue jumpsuit was a symbol of joy and excitement.
And just in case you needed any more evidence of these loveable kids and their zest for life, 52 one-minute cartoons were made starring ‘Neve’ and ‘Gliz’, showing what the Olympics is all about – fun and friendship. Don’t take OUR word for it, check it out for yourself - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iyxoYsDDYHo
‘Quatchi’ and ‘Miga’. Vancouver, 2010 – Organisers of the 2010 Vancouver Games looked to the mythical for mascot inspiration. The result was official mascots ‘Quatchi’ and ‘Miga’. ‘Quatchi’ the sasquatch and ‘Miga’ the sea bear are creatures whose existence has been debated since time immemorial. This finally ended that debate as the two characters became our favourite furry companions at the Games.
They were joined by their little friend Mukmuk, who was an endangered marmot which could only be found on an island in Vancouver. Mukmuk, while not an official mascot, became extremely popular, eventually even getting its own t-shirts. As for our friends ‘Quatchi’ and ‘Miga’, no matter what anyone says these urban legends are real to us!
The Hare, the Polar Bear and the Leopard. Sochi, 2014 – Ditching the flashy names, organisers of the 2014 Sochi Games decided that the animals speak for themselves. They weren’t wrong. The dynamic trio of Hare, Polar Bear and Leopard packed quite the punch at the Olympics in Russia.
Just like the 2002 mascots, these three animals exemplify the skills needed to compete at the highest level. In a clever touch, they were also designed to visually represent the Olympic podium.
Soohorang, PyeongChang 2018 - The latest addition to the mascot fraternity is Soohorang, the White Tiger. PyeongChang 2018 chose the tiger as it is closely associated with Korean mythology and culture, having been a familiar figure in Korean folk tales as a symbol of trust, strength and protection.
The name “Soohorang” has additional significance. “Sooho,” the Korean word for “protection”, alludes to the protection of athletes, spectators and other Games participants. “Rang” derives from the Korean word “ho-rang-i”, which means “tiger”. “Rang” also appears in “Jeongseon Arirang”, the traditional folk music of Gangwon Province, where PyeongChang is located.
There is no doubt that Soohorang will make a name for himself when he comes to the fore in early 2018.