History of the Winter Olympics:
1924, 1928, 1932, 1936, 1948, 1952, 1956, 1960, 1964, 1968, 1972, 1976, 1980, 1984, 1988, 1992, 1994, 1998, 2002, 2006, 2010, 2014
16 Winter Olympics
Location: Albertville, France
Date: 8-23 February 1992
Other applicant cities: Sofia (Bulgaria), Falun (Sweden), Lillehammer (Norway), Cortina d’Ampezzo (Italy), Anchorage (USA), Berchtesgaden (FRG)
a program: 12 sports / 57 numbers
number of participants: 64 countries, 1,801 athletes (1,313 men, 488 women)
sea level: 328-2030 AD
The story of the 92nd Olympic Games, if you wish, began in 1968: 17-year-old Michel Barnier managed to see him in the hall where his favorite Jean-Claude Kelly won three gold medals at the Grenoble Olympics. Thirteen years later, the two men met as friends in the Val d’Isere region of Savoie, France; Already the owner of the ski resort that bears his name at the time, Kelly was an up-and-coming politician who served in the Alps as a representative of the National Assembly of Savoia. Both believed that the development of winter sports would be necessary to boost tourism in the region, and to that end they would have to acquire the right to host the Winter Olympics. However, they knew that if a county with a population of about 300,000 at the time couldn’t bid on the games, it would take a city.
Thus the choice fell on Albertville, less than twenty thousand, a small town that most French had no idea where it was. Killyék first negotiated with the local mayor in June 82, then announced the launch of the tender in December of that year, led by Barnier, who now heads the county council.
Albertville found itself in a huge arena, seven cities wanted the Olympic Games, some from countries where the games had not yet been held (Bulgaria: Sofia, Sweden: Falun), and there was a well-appointed competitor, Berchtesgaden (formerly Hitler’s Nest in the FRG.). Albertville was able to view beautiful mountains, dozens of surrounding villages, and a few ski resorts, but the latter was spread over an area of about 1,500 square miles. (For comparison: this area is three times the size of Budapest, but slightly smaller than the district of Komarum-Esztergom.)
Olympic Games in Tolna, Baranya
The basis is that it will be impossible to hold the Winter Olympics due to the diversity of sports in one settlement. But what the French have done is unparalleled.
The success of the small French town is due to the political conditions within the Olympic movement. Since this was the last Winter Olympics to be held in a summer year, the IOC decided its place at the same meeting in October 86. Among the summer candidates, Paris was the most likely, but IOC President Juan Antonio Samaranch wanted his city to be Barcelona is the winner. Thus, two days before the summer venue was decided, the members of the International Olympic Committee awarded Albertville the 92nd Winter Games to Albertville at the end of an astonishingly long process (six rounds of voting). Thus, the rug was pulled out from under Paris, since there hasn’t been an example since 36 of the two Olympic Games being in one country.
Albertville prepared with honor for the 92nd Olympics, although at first there was a problem that all the many ski resorts wanted to be venues, and those who missed out eventually raged. Kelly also resigned as chair of the organizing committee, eventually co-chairing the board with Barnier. The races ended up dizzyingly scattered, with a total of ten settlements, with only three athletic competitions held in Albertville. It has also become an Olympic village that athletes don’t like. Most of the host settlements had a small population and incredibly high expenditures, many of which went bankrupt. As everywhere, there were ongoing environmental concerns in Albertville. The biggest problem here was with the toboggan run, the investment cost 37 instead of $12 million, the ammonia used for refrigeration began to leak on December 90, and an emergency arose.
Hungarians have a great team فريق
The Hungarian delegation used to be as large as in Albertville, and 24 people participated in the 92nd Games. Many alpine skiers, cross-country skiers, and ski shooters came out, Inge became the best, and Toth became an ice dancer in seventh.
With the future opening, the French dazzled the world. The flame was caught by a seven-year-old boy, François Cyril Grange, in the company of Michel Platini. Marseilles sang a twelve-year-old girl, and the song, with its slightly brutal lyrics, was so touching that many people remembered rewriting the national anthem. The Olympians were sworn in by the colorist Surya Bonali, which sparked protests and racist attacks. (Bonali claimed at the time that he came from Reunion Island, and he thought it looked even more exotic because it was really cute.)
The program and the number of participants continued to expand, from demo sports to official competitions for freestyle snowboarders (pole only), short track speed skaters, and, for the first time, female athletes.
Don’t forget one performance. Such was the case of Alberto Tomba, who was the first alpine skier to defend his Olympic title in a giant slalom. Cross-country skaters succumbed to big medal collections: the four most successful Albertville players came out of them. In the men’s, the Norwegians won all five songs, Bjorn Dalier and Vigaard Olvange became the singles’ record number, winning the third gold medal together in the relay. (Both won one bronze medal each.) Dählie held a total of eight gold medals in her Olympic career to 98, making her the most successful in Winter Games history up to 2014.
In cross-country skiing, the former Soviets, who competed this time as a unified team, took on almost everything. Lyubov Yegorova and Yelena Valbe also won medals in all numbers: the former concluded with three golds, two with silver, and the latter with four bronze and one gold. But Ragsa Szmitanyina, the Russian relay winner at the fifth Olympics, won the 10th medal of her career at the age of 39. All results were considered records afterwards.
With a spy in POP
Albertville was the first post-regime-change Olympics in Eastern Europe which was clearly visible. The uniform called the CCCP disappeared, and most of the former Soviets thus far competed under the banner of a unit operating under the name United Team. The Baltics, as well as the Croats and Slovenes, were already separated from the collapsing Yugoslavia. On the other hand, the Germans were united, and Eastern and Western immediately jumped to the top of the medal table. Among the Germans, a strange phenomenon of regime change also collide: it turns out that former GDR president Harald Szudag had collaborated with the Secret Service, the Stasi, and reported on his teammates between 88-90. He was forgiven, but as a medalist, he was only sixth with all four. In 94, they reached the summit in Lillehammer.
Records still exist: New Zealand alpine skier Anneliese Kuberger won the first Olympic medal in the Southern Hemisphere. Finland’s Sohan, Toni Nieminen, became the youngest Olympic gold medalist at the age of 16 and 259 days.
The first title defense was also born on the ice among speed skaters: American Bonnie Blair won the 500 meters again after 88, and managed to win a thousand. German Georg Hackl won his first gold medal in Albertville, but was able to win two more times and thanks to two silvers, he was the only one to win five times with the same number at the Winter Olympics.
The trend seen in Calgary continued with eager losers, though Eddie, the eagle, was not released by the English but was a Moroccan skater who was so slow that the next start was in the future. The bobsleigh race was full of weird reps, but the second unit from Puerto Rico also stood out next to Mexico, Monaco and the Virgin Islands, jumping the ice rink for 1.5km in one race. Virgin Islands-2. Hit them for half a minute.
There was also an even more painful similarity to Calgary: Four years ago, a ski coach lost his life, and now it’s a tragedy at one of the courses for show sport, speed skating, with Nicholas Buccatay of Switzerland. Therefore, the athletes from his country did not attend the closing ceremony.
Albertville hosted a successful, quiet and scandal-free Olympics (900,000 tickets sold, 20 percent more than expected), with many buses between venues. The TGV train was moved to the small town, moved to a new hospital and has since been a four-lane motorway connecting Lyon to Geneva. Tourism revenue increased, and skaters flocked the following season. However, the settlement became unprofitable, and the central and county government could foot the bill. Unemployment rose, many municipalities went bankrupt or were able to repay the loan for years, were able to maintain unnecessary facilities, and had to raise taxes.
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Top organizers have become more important people
For the top two behind the Albertville Olympics, this project was just the first big throw (probably not for three-time Olympic champion Kelly). Soon Jean-Claude Kelly became president of the Amaury group, which also operates the Tour de France and the sports newspaper L’Equipe. He was then elected as a member of the International Olympic Committee and remains a key figure in the International Olympic Committee. Michel Barnier became the highest political district in France and Europe: a multiple minister, then Romano Prodi, and soon became a European commissioner headed by José Manuel Barroso.
(The author of the article, first published in 2010, is our former colleague, Csepregi J. Botond)
(Cover Photo: Jean-Claude Kelly with tickets for the Winter Olympics. Photo: AFP/Pascal Guyot)