A lasting legacy – Winter Olympic Games


Following the golden summer of 2012 there was as much emphasis on the legacy of London 2012 as on the Games themselves and it has become the buzzword of the decade so far. But how does this continuing legacy apply to the Winter Olympic Games? With the Sochi 2014 Winter Olympics taking place from 7th to 23rd February 2014, will the Olympic movement be able to build on their legacy plans for long-term changes and will we see a marked increase in skiers and boarders on the Russian slopes by 2020? To predict the future, we need to gauge the success of previous host cities to see how Sochi can secure their Olympic legacy for the future.

Cortina d’Ampezzo, Italy: 1956

The Italian resort of Cortina d’Ampezzo hosted the 1956 Winter Olympics and was propelled into the limelight as the first Games to be televised to an international audience. After the Olympics, the resort became a magnet for skiing celebrities, sports personalities and big name stars keen to be seen on the slopes. Its Olympic legacy continues to this day with a number of themed ski tours, including the spectacular Olympia ski tour, which follows the Olympic run down to Rumerlo, where the Olympic flame burned. There is also the long Vitelli piste, which was host to the Olympic giant slalom and has since become a dedicated slow-ski area. For over 20 years the Olympia delle Tofane piste has hosted the Women’s Alpine Skiing World Cup and, in doing so, has helped Cortina to remain at the forefront as a world class ski resort. This season there will be a new piste on the south-western slopes of Col Drusciè, which will be dedicated to female skiers and is to be named after Toni Sailer, who won three Gold medals at the Cortina Winter Olympics.

Innsbruck, Austria: 1964, 1976, 2012 (YOG)

2014 marks half a century of Olympic heritage since Innsbruck, the capital of the Austrian Tirol, first hosted the Winter Olympics in 1964. It was a mere 12 years later in 1976 that the Olympic flame returned, after the unexpected decision by the people of Denver not to host the Games. The IOC had to find a quick replacement and Innsbruck soon became the obvious choice, with a proven track record as organiser in 1964. Building on their legacy, Innsbruck became the first city to host the Olympics for a third time in 2012, with the inaugural Winter Youth Olympic Games (YOG). It was thanks to its continual preservation of existing venues, some of which were first used in 1964, and have since been upgraded to state of the art facilities, that Innsbruck was chosen. Anyone can try the Olympic  bobsleigh run at Igls, have a go on the cross-country trails in Seefeld or ski the Patscherkofel, where most of the downhill action took place. Re-designed in 2003 by esteemed London-based architect Zaha Hadid, the Bergisel Ski Jump Stadium has become one of Innsbruck’s most popular tourist attractions and stands out as a symbol of Innsbruck’s continuing Olympic heritage.

Nagano, Japan: 1998

At the time, the International Olympic Committee (IOC) president declared the Nagano 1998 Winter Olympics to be the best organised Winter Games in Olympic history, and it was the first Games to use a dedicated website to provide real-time results and information. At the same time the IOC launched the official www.olympic.org website and, utilising the internet as a means of communication, helped spread the message and bring the world’s attention to mainland Japan as a winter sports destination. Snowboarding had its debut as an official Olympic sport at the 1998 Nagano Winter Olympics, and curling returned to the Games programme. The Asama bullet train from Tokyo to Nagano was completed in time for the 1998 Winter Olympics, reducing the journey time to just under 80 minutes. The 10-day Nagano Ski Safari covers the resorts of Hakuba, the Olympic venue for ski jumping and Alpine skiing, and Nosawa Onsen, the venue for the biathlon events, as well as a ride on the Bullet train to Tokyo.

Salt Lake City, USA: 2002

In 2002 the capital of Utah, Salt Lake City, hosted the 19th Winter Olympic Games and it became one of the most successful Games in history, entering the record books for more than its sporting achievements. Viewing figures worldwide reached the 2 billion mark, whilst the venues packed in the largest crowds ever for an Olympic Winter Games, a record that still remains today. Financially the Games raised more money with fewer sponsors than any other previous event, leaving a surplus of $40million which was used to create the Utah Athletic Foundation, the body responsible for maintaining and operating many of the remaining Olympic venues. The legacy of the Winter Olympics is still very much apparent and the Utah Olympic Park is well worth a visit for a do-it-yourself Olympic experience. You can take a ride on the Comet Bobsled, with a pilot, reaching speeds of 80mph, go head first down the Rocket Skeleton ride at 50mph, try curling or have a go at ice skating! This season Park City is tying in their Olympic legacy by hosting several Olympic qualifier events, held in the resort prior to the Sochi Games. In December, there will be the Bobsled & Skeleton World Cup, as well as the Luge World Cup and Nordic Olympic Trials. In January, there will be the Freestyle Ski World Cup in Deer Valley Resort and the Sprint U.S. Grand Prix. This year also sees the 50th anniversary of skiing and snowboarding at Park City.

Vancouver, Canada: 2010

As the largest city to ever hold the Winter Games, Vancouver is continuing to reap the rewards from being an Olympic city thanks to its carefully planned legacy. Olympic villages were constructed in Vancouver and Whistler and improvements to the Sea-to-Sky highway greatly improved the journey between the venues. Within the city, transport was improved by the addition of the new SkyTrain cars and diesel-electric hybrid buses. The construction of new facilities, including the Richmond Olympic Oval, the Vancouver Olympic Centre and the Whistler Sliding Centre, has helped get more people into sport, whether it’s local teenagers heading to the skating rink or tourists testing their nerves on the skeleton or bobsleigh. Visitors to Whistler can further experience the 2010 Winter Olympics by taking a Whistler Olympic venue tour, ice-skating outdoors at the former medal ceremony venue, the Whistler Olympic Plaza, or trying Nordic skiing or biathlon at the Whistler Olympic Park.  On the mountain, visitors can ‘feel the need for speed’ down the Dave Murray Downhill, where they held the Men’s Downhill, Super G, Giant Slalom and Slalom events, or experience the thrill of the bob sleigh and skeleton track at the Sliding Centre.

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