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1976 Winter Olympics facts for kids

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XII Olympic Winter Games
1976 Winter Olympics logo.svg
Emblem of the 1976 Winter Olympics
Host city Innsbruck, Austria
Nations 37
Athletes 1,123 (892 men, 231 women)
Events 37 in 6 sports (10 disciplines)
Opening 4 February 1976
Closing 15 February 1976
Opened by
Christl Haas
Josef Feistmantl
Stadium Bergisel
Sapporo 1972 Lake Placid 1980
Munich 1972 Montreal 1976

The 1976 Winter Olympics, officially known as the XII Olympic Winter Games (German: XII. Olympische Winterspiele, French: XIIes Jeux olympiques d'hiver) and commonly known as Innsbruck 1976 (Austro-Bavarian: Innschbruck 1976), was a winter multi-sport event celebrated in Innsbruck, Austria, from February 4 to 15, 1976. The Games were awarded to Innsbruck after Denver, the original host city, withdrew in 1972. This was the second time the Tyrolean capital had hosted the Winter Olympics, having first done so in 1964.

Host selection

The cities of Denver, Colorado, United States; Sion, Switzerland; Tampere, Finland; and Vancouver (with most events near Mount Garibaldi), British Columbia, Canada, made bids for the Games. The host was decided at the 69th IOC meeting in Amsterdam, Netherlands, on May 12, 1970.

Original 1976 Winter Olympics bidding results
City Country Round 1 Round 2 Round 3
Denver  United States 29 29 39
Sion  Switzerland 18 31 30
Tampere  Finland 12 8
VancouverGaribaldi  Canada 9

In a statewide referendum on 7 November 1972, Colorado voters rejected funding for the games, and for the first (and only) time a city awarded the Winter Games rejected them. Denver officially withdrew on 15 November, and the IOC then offered the games to Whistler, British Columbia, Canada, but they too declined owing to a change of government following elections. Salt Lake City offered to host the games, but the IOC, still reeling from the Denver rejection, declined and selected Innsbruck to host the 1976 Winter Olympics, which had hosted the 1964 Winter Olympics games twelve years earlier, on 5 February 1973.


The mascot of the 1976 Winter Olympics was Schneemann, a snowman in a red Tyrolean hat. Designed by Walter Pötsch, Schneeman was purported to represent the 1976 Games as the "Games of Simplicity". It was also regarded as a good-luck charm, to avert the dearth of snow that had marred the 1964 Winter Olympics in Innsbruck.


Innsbruck 1976 poster
The official poster of the 1976 Winter Olympics
  • First Games under the presidency of Michael Morris, 3rd Baron Killanin
  • Austrian favorite Franz Klammer won the men's downhill event in alpine skiing in 1:45.73, after great pressure from his country and defending champion Bernhard Russi of Switzerland.
  • Dorothy Hamill of the US won the gold in figure Skating, and inspired the popular "wedge" haircut.
  • Elegant British figure skater John Curry altered his routine to appeal to Olympic judges, winning gold.
  • American figure skater Terry Kubicka attempted – and completed – a dangerous backflip in figure skating.
  • Rosi Mittermaier of West Germany nearly swept the women's alpine skiing events, earning two golds and a silver, missing the third gold by 0.13 seconds.
  • Soviet speed skater Tatiana Averina won four medals.
  • In the 4-man bobsled, the East German team won the first of three consecutive titles.
  • The USSR won its fourth straight ice hockey gold medal; for the second consecutive Olympics, Canada refused to send a team, protesting the rules that allowed the USSR to field professional players while limiting Canada to amateurs. Sweden also joined the boycott.
  • Sports technology, in the guise of innovative perforated skis, sleek hooded suits and streamlined helmets appeared in alpine skiing, speed skating and ski jumping, making headlines in Innsbruck.
  • A second cauldron for the Olympic flame was built to represent the 1976 Games. Both it and the cauldron from the 1964 games were lit together.
  • Bobsleigh and luge competed on the same track for the first time ever.
  • Galina Kulakova of the Soviet Union finished 3rd in the women's 5 km ski event, but was disqualified due to a positive test for banned substance ephedrine. She claimed that this was a result of using the nasal spray that contained the substance. Both the FIS and the IOC allowed her to compete in the 10 km and the 4×5 km relay. This was the first stripped medal at the Winter Olympics.
  • The Austrian anthem was played three times at the closing ceremony during the beginning, the victory ceremony and the handover ceremony to honor the three verses of the anthem.


Bergisel in 2004
  • Axamer Lizum – Alpine skiing except men's downhill
  • Bergiselschanze – Ski jumping (large hill), Opening Ceremonies
  • Eisschnellaufbahn – Speed skating
  • Kombinierte Kunsteisbahn für Bob-Rodel Igls – Bobsleigh, Luge
  • Messehalle – Ice hockey
  • Olympiahalle – Figure skating, Ice hockey, Closing Ceremonies
  • Patscherkofel – Alpine skiing (men's downhill)
  • Seefeld – Biathlon, Cross-country skiing, Nordic combined, Ski jumping (normal hill)

Medals awarded

There were 37 events contested in 6 sports (10 disciplines). Ice dance made its Olympic debut. See the medal winners, ordered by sport:

Participating nations

37 nations participated in the 1976 Winter Olympic Games. The games marked the final time the Republic of China (Taiwan) participated under the Republic of China flag and name. After most of the international community recognized the People's Republic of China as the legitimate government of all China, the ROC was forced to compete under the name Chinese Taipei, under an altered flag and to use its National Banner Song instead of its national anthem. Andorra and San Marino participated in their first Winter Olympic Games.

Participating National Olympic Committees
  •  Andorra (5)
  •  Argentina (9)
  •  Australia (7)
  •  Austria (77) (host)
  •  Belgium (4)
  •  Bulgaria (29)
  •  Canada (59)
  •  Chile (5)
  •  Czechoslovakia (58)
  •  Finland (53)
  •  France (35)
  •  East Germany (59)
  •  West Germany (71)
  •  Great Britain (42)
  •  Greece (4)
  •  Hungary (3)
  •  Iceland (6)
  •  Iran (4)
  •  Italy (58)
  •  Japan (58)
  •  South Korea (3)
  •  Lebanon (3)
  •  Liechtenstein (9)
  •  Netherlands (11)
  •  New Zealand (5)
  •  Norway (42)
  •  Poland (56)
  •  Romania (32)
  •  San Marino (3)
  •  Soviet Union (79)
  •  Spain (4)
  •  Sweden (39)
  •  Switzerland (59)
  •  Republic of China (6)
  •  Turkey (9)
  •  United States (106)
  •  Yugoslavia (28)

Number of athletes by National Olympic Committees

Medal count

Tuula Vilkas 1976.
Pentti Peltoperä and Tuula Vilkas who represented Finland in speed skating events

These are the top ten nations that won medals at the 1976 Winter Games.

  *   Host nation ( Austria)

Rank Nation Gold Silver Bronze Total
1  Soviet Union 13 6 8 27
2  East Germany 7 5 7 19
3  United States 3 3 4 10
4  Norway 3 3 1 7
5  West Germany 2 5 3 10
6  Finland 2 4 1 7
7  Austria* 2 2 2 6
8  Switzerland 1 3 1 5
9  Netherlands 1 2 3 6
10  Italy 1 2 1 4
Totals (10 nations) 35 35 31 101

Documentary film

In 1977, White Rock, a documentary film about the Innsbruck Winter Olympics was released. The film was narrated by James Coburn, and directed by Tony Maylam. It was nominated for the Robert Flaherty Award (Feature Length Film, Documentary In Content) at the 30th British Academy Film Awards. The film's soundtrack was composed by English keyboardist Rick Wakeman. His album, White Rock entered the UK Albums Chart on 12 February 1977, where it spent 9 weeks and reached number 14.

See also

Kids robot.svg In Spanish: Juegos Olímpicos de Innsbruck 1976 para niños

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