As much as I like to watch the Summer Olympics, my favorite Olympic is actually the Winter Olympics.
Not that the athletes are any better. I think it’s more the events themselves and even the scenery that the events are ran in. The mountains, the snow, it’s just different.
I attended the last Winter Olympic Games hosted in the United States in 2002 in Salt Lake City, Utah. Like all Olympics, many of the actual events are played outside of the Host City’s boundaries. In fact, of the six events I personally watched none were in Salt Lake City proper. Five were actually in nearby Park City and the other in Soldier Hollow, both miles from the host city.
A bit of history. The first modern Olympics were held in Athens, Greece in 1896. By contrast the first Winter Olympics were held in Chamonix, France in 1924, some 30 years or six Summer Olympics later. Both Olympic games were held the same calendar year, every four years. By 1986 however the IOC decided it would be better for both recognition and for financial reasons to stagger the games.
1992 was the last time both the Winter and Summer Olympics were held in the same year. The plan was to stagger the Olympics every two years but stay on a four year cycle. So, in 1994 only two years after the Winter Olympics were held in Albertville, France they were once again held, this time in Lillehamer, Norway.
This was the only time any Olympics were repeated in less than four years. Ever since, we have either a Summer or Winter Olympics to enjoy every two years.
The United States has been lucky enough to host the Winter Olympics four times in three cities. In 1932 and again in 1980 the host city was tiny Lake Placid, New York. This marked the third time a city has repeated as a Winter Olympic Host. Lake Placid joined St. Moritz, Switzerland 1928, 1948 and Innsbruck, Austria 1946, 1964 as a repeat host.
In 1960, the second Winter Olympics hosted by an American city were held at Squaw Valley, California. At the time Squaw was a small, up and coming resort on the North shore of Lake Tahoe. On more or less of a whim, Squaw Valley submitted their name as a host and were stunned that they won the bid. Organizers worked overtime to make Squaw Valley the success that it was.
The last time the Winter Olympics were held in the United States was in 2002 in Salt Lake City, Utah. Salt Lake City was not the original city selected by the United Stated Olympic Committee (USOC) for IOC approval. That selection was originally granted to Denver. When Denver taxpayers and politicians could not agree on costs, the award was given to the runner up, Salt Lake City.
The IOC has just announced they have withdrawn their bid for the 2022 Winter Olympics, dashing the hopes of the cities of Reno, NV (Lake Tahoe), Denver and Salt Lake City, who all hoped to bid. The USOC has decided to bid on either the 2024 Summer Olympics or the 2026 Winter Olympics instead.
If you are interested in attending a Winter Olympics, the next two have been awarded and you can start your travel plans. In 2014 they will be hosted by Sochi, Russia and in 2018 they will be Pyeonchang, South Korea.
Personally, I don’t see myself traveling to either of those locations but I do have the ability to ski a past Olympic trail in Squaw Valley or Park City with my ski club, the Clearwater/St. Pete Ski Club. Until next time… See you at the bottom.