1960s Sports – Olympics

by Michael RichComment — Updated August 3, 2023

1960s Sports – Olympics  The Winter Olympics can do more for a host country than provide for national pride. Witness Squaw Valley, CA. a sleepy resort with one chair lift and a fifty-room lodge. Four short years and 80 million dollars later a world class ski facility sprang up from the valley floor. What impressed the Olympic Committee was having the chance to shape the development of the venue to Olympic standards ie starting with a blank canvas.

Innsbruck, Austria is another example of promoting national pride. Chosen to host the games because of its normally snowy slopes the resort experienced a record shortage of snow and the games were in danger of not being held. So the Austrian Army trudged into the Alpine’s and returned with 40,000 cubic meters of snow which the local residents then packed into the slopes by hand. People traveled from all over the region to help in overcoming the obstacle that nature had thrown at them. Ice blocks were even carried down from the mountains to help build the bobsled and luge runs.

The Olympics in the 1960s also was the start of drug and gender testing of competitors. The use of anabolic steroids by athletes was becoming more well known and strictly prohibited by the Olympic Committee so testing was instituted for both the winter and summer games. The sex of some of the female athletes in the previous summer games fell under suspicion so gender testing was included but only where there was a doubt. Early gender testing was humiliating as it consisted of physical exams by several different doctors. This practice would go through many refinements through the years following.Squaw Valley, California

FIGURE SKATING:1960 Winter Olympics

  • David Jenkins took the gold in the Men’s competition
    his brother had won the same medal in 1956
  • Czechoslovakia won the Silver and Canada received the Bronze
  • The United States also won Gold in the Women’s event when Carol Heiss took a unanimous decision
    she went on to marry Hayes Jenkins who had won a gold figure skating medal in the 1956 Olympic Games
  • The Canadian pair of Barbara Wagner and Bob Paul easily won the pairs competition
    they had won the last three world championships
  • A German couple won the Silver while the U.S. placed third with the Bronze

ICE HOCKEY:1960 Olympics

  • It was alleged that the Soviet hockey team were not truly amateurs
    but were in fact full time professional hockey players
  • Despite the controversy the U.S. pulled off a huge upset defeating both
    the highly favored Canadian team who won Silver and the USSR who won the Bronze
  • This was the last time that the Soviets don’t win a Gold medal in Ice Hockey
    until 1980 when the United States again pulls off a huge upset victory

SKI JUMP:1960 Winter Olympic games

  • The event was called the Men’s Normal Hill Ski Jump,
    the Large Hill event would not be included in the Olympics until the 1964 Games
  • Germany won it’s first Gold medal in this event when Helmut Recknagel soared to victory
  • Finland won the Silver with Austrian Otto Leodolter taking the Bronze

SPEED SKATING:1960s Olympic Ski Jump

  • Artificial ice was used in the outdoor skating rink for the first time
    this allowed for much faster times and one world record being smashed
  • Women’s Speed Skating was featured at the Olympics for the first time and
    the Soviet Union’s Lidiya Skoblikova won Gold in both the 1500 and 3000 meter races
  • Knut Johannesen broke the world record winning Gold in the 10,000 meter race
  • Yevgeny Grishin of the Soviet Union won both the 500 and 1,500 meter Men’s events

CROSS COUNTRY SKIING:olympic Cross Country Sking

  • Finnish skier Veikko Hakulinen won a Gold in the 10km relay, a Silver in the 50km and a Bronze in the 15km
    Hakulinen also had won a Gold in 1952 and 2 Golds and a Silver in the 1956 Games
  • The Soviet Union got its first Olympic sweep in the 10km winning all three top spots
  • Sweden did well taking Gold in the 30km and the Women’s 5km relay they
    also won two Silver medals in the 30km and 15 km as well as a Bronze in the 50km
  • Swedish Sixten Jernberg who won one of their Golds and one Silver
    adding these to the two of each he had won in 1956 making his personal total, six

BIATHLON:Winter Olympics in the 1960s

  • The Biathlon consisted of a 20km cross country race with four shooting stations of varying distances scattered along the way
  • 1960 was the first games that had this competition it was previously called Military Patrol
  • Sweden’s Klas Lestander won the Gold with Finland and the Soviet Union finishing second and third

ALPINE SKIING:60s Olympics

  • The Men’s Downhill was won by Frenchman Jean Vuarnet on metal skis,an Olympic first
    metal skis would become the norm until the manufacture of fiberglass obsoleted the metal
  • Austria was the Slalom Champion while Swiss skier Yvonne Rüegg won the Giant Slalom
  • In the Women’s Alpine events Germany won the Downhill event, Switzerland took the Gold
    in the Giant Slalom and Canada won the Slalom
  • The only multiple medal winner was Penny Pitou of the U.S. winning two Silver Medals

Below are the top five medal winners

Country Gold Silver Bronze TOTAL
USSR 7 5 9 21
Germany 4 3 1 8
U.S. 3 4 3 10
Norway 3 3 0 6
Sweden 3 3 2 8

Innsbruck, Austria

Before the Games

The entire United States Figure Skating team along with their coaches and family members were killed in a tragic plane crash in Brussels.
They were traveling to compete in a World Championship which is a prelude to qualifying for the Olympic Games.
This set the U.S. program back for many years and forced the cancellation of the Championship that they were headed to.

In two other pre-games tragedies, Australian alpine skier Ross Milne fatally hit a tree while practicing and luge slider Kazimierz Kay-Skrzypeski died in a crash during training.


  • Austria took the Gold in both the men’s Downhill and Slalom events while France won the Giant Slalom
  • In the Women’s events Austria again won the Downhill but French sisters Marielle and Christine Goitschel
    split both Gold and Silver medals in the Slalom and Giant Slalom events winning four medals between them.
  • The Goitschel sisters pulled off an Olympic first by winning four medals in just two events by siblings
  • Bill “Billy” Kidd made his Olympic debut capturing a Silver in the Slalom and a 7th place finish in the Giant Slalom

FIGURE SKATINGOlympic Figure Skating

  • Germany again appeared at the Games as United Germany with athletes from both East & West competing on the same team
    they won two medals, a Gold in Men’s Singles and a Silver in the Pairs competition by Marika Kilius & Hans-Jürgen Bäumler.
  • The USSR won their only Figure Skating medal in the Pairs by Liudmila Belousova & Oleg Protopopov.
  • France’s Alain Calmat won a Silver in Men’s Singles, Regine Heitzer won the Silver for Austria in the Women’s Single
    while Canada’s Petra Burka took the Women’s Bronze.
  • Sjoukje Dijkstra took the Gold in the Women’s marking the first ever Gold medal for the Netherlands
  • The fairy tale story of the Games was 15 year old Scott Allen from the U.S. winning a Bronze medal in the Men’s Single
    after the whole starting U.S. team was killed, the junior members were quickly trained to compete at Olympic levels,
    another junior member of that team, 15 year old Peggy Fleming, placed sixth in the Women’s, she would win Gold in 1968.

ICE HOCKEY:1964 Winter Olympics

  • The USSR revenged it’s loss to the U.S. in the last Olympics by defeating them 5-1 in an early match up.
  • The Soviet team went on to win the Gold by going undefeated throughout the playoffs.
  • Sweden won the Silver and Czechoslovakia placed third receiving a Bronze Medal.
  • Canada skates to a Bronze but then has it taken away because of a scoring rule change.

SPEED SKATING:1964 Olympic Speed Skating

  • Lidia Skoblikova of the USSR again proved her absolute dominance in the sport by winning
    the Gold medal in a sweep of all four events, 500m, 1000m, 1500m and 3000 meters.
    Combined with the two she won at the 1960 Olympics she holds more skating medals (6) then any other athlete
  • In the Men’s competition Terry McDermott of the U.S. won the 500 meter
  • The Soviet Union’s Ants Antson took the Gold in the 1000 meter
  • Knut Johannesen of Norway won the 1500m while Sweden’s Jonny Nilsson took the long 10,000 meter race

BOBSLEIGH:1964 Olympic Bob Sledding

  • There was no Bobsleigh event in the 1960 Winter Games because Squaw Valley didn’t have a course built for it
  • The British team of Anthony Nash, Robin Thomas Dixon took Gold in the Two-man race
  • The Canadian’s Peter Kirby, Doug Anakin, John Emery, Vic Emery won the Four-man competition

LUGE:Olympic Luge

  • This was the first Games where Luge was an official Olympic event
  • The combined Germany (East & West) dominated all the Luge events that they entered
    sweeping the Men’s Singles and almost sweeping (Gold & Silver) the Women’s Singles
  • In the Men’s doubles Austria took the Gold and Silver Medals while Italy won the Bronze


  • In the women’s events the USSR swept the field when Klavdiya Boyarskikh won 3 Gold medals
    winning all of the contests that she entered (5km, 10km and 5km relay).
  • In the men’s events Eero Mäntyranta of Finland won Gold in both the 15km and 30km giving the Fin’s 2 of their 3 Gold medals.
  • Sixten Jernberg of Sweden anchored the relay team and took the Gold,
    he also won cross country Gold medals in both the 1965 and 1960 Winter games.

SKI JUMPING:60s Olympic games

  • Veikko Kankkonen of Finland and Toralf Engan of Norway each won a Gold and a Silver in the 70m and 80m jumps respectively.
  • Torgeir Brandtzæg of Norway won the Bronze in both events giving Norway a total of 4 medals.


Country Gold Silver Bronze TOTAL
USSR 11 8 6 25
Austria 4 5 3 12
Norway 3 6 6 15
Finland 3 4 3 10
France 3 4 0 7

 Grenoble, France

ALPINE SKIING:1968 Winter Olympics

  • Men’s Alpine was dominated by Jean-Claude Killy, France’s favorite boy
    he won the Gold Medal in the Slalom, Giant Slalom and Downhill races.
  • Killy’s downhill victory was contested by an Austrian skier who claimed a spectator crossed onto
    his path during the event, however an Appeals Jury overturned the complaint and Killy kept the Gold Medal.
  • In the Women’s Downhill Olga Pall won the Gold over Isabelle Mir of France who won a Silver Medal

Nancy Greene of Canada took the Giant Slalom competition while Marielle Goitschel of France won the Slalom event.


  • Italy won half of it’s total Olympic medals in the Bobsleigh event
  • The team of Eugenio Monti & Luciano De Paolis took the Gold in the 2 Man and
    then teamed up with fellow Italians Roberto Zandonella, Mario Armano to win the 4 Man event

FIGURE SKATING:Winter Olympics - Peggy FlemmingPeggy Flemming

  • The biggest story out of the 1968 Games was figure skater Peggy Fleming
    she won the Gold medal in the Women’s event and instantly became a media darling
  • Wolfgang Schwarz of Austria won the Men’s competition in a bit of an upset
  • The USSR continued their dominance of the sport by taking the Gold in the Couples
    Lyudmila Belousova and Oleg Protopopov skated to victory for the Soviets


  • Controversy clouded the Women’s Luge event when the East German women’s luge team
    was disqualified for heating their sled runners shortly before the event
    they had won gold, silver, and fourth virtually sweeping the event.
  • Erica Lechner the third place winner wound up receiving the Gold medal because of the disqualifications
  • In the Men’s Single, Manfred Schmid won for Austria
  • In the 2 Seat, Klaus Bonsack & Thomas Kõhler took the Gold for E. Germany  (this was the first Games where East & West Germany were represented by separate teams)

ICE HOCKEY:'68 Winter Olympics

  • In a confusing calculation the USSR beat Canada in the final game to take the Gold Medal
    however Czechoslovakia won the Silver Medal and Canada the Bronze
  • In a much anticipated game W. Germany prevailed over E. Germany
    neither team made it to the finals of the tournament

SPEED SKATING:Olympic Figure Skating

  • Grenoble’s track proved to be very fast as 5 Olympic records and 1 world record were broken.
  • Carolina Geijssen of the Netherlands Finland’s Kaija Mustonen, broke an Olympic record in the 1000 meter.
  • Finland’s Kaija Mustonen, won the 1500m also breaking an Olympic record.
  • Johanna Schut broke the third Olympic record in the 3000m for the women skating for the Netherlands.
  • In the Men’s races Kees Verkerk of the Netherlands broke an Olympic record in the 1500m.
  • Sweden’s Johnny Höglin broke the Olympic record in the 10,000m.
  • Fred Maier of Norway set a new Worlds record winning the 5000 meter race.

Other Facts:

  • This years Games was the first this decade that the Soviets didn’t win the medal count.
  • Norway walked away the winner with 6 Gold, 6 Silver, and 2 Bronze partially because of their prowess in Speed Skating.
  • France being the host country had its best showing ever with its star Jean-Claude Killy winning 3 of its 4 Gold Medals.
  • The game were extensively covered by CBS and broadcast in color for the first time in the U.S.
  • Both the Bobsleigh and Luge events were cut short because the tracks were not properly insulated and the weather turned warmer

Below are the top five medal winners:

Country Gold Silver Bronze TOTAL
Norway 6 6 2 14
USSR 5 5 3 13
France 4 3 2 9
Italy 4 0 0 4
Austria 3 4 4 11

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