1964 Winter Olympics

The 1964 Winter Olympics, officially known as the IX Olympic Winter Games (German: IX. Olympische Winterspiele) and commonly known as Innsbruck 1964, was a winter multi-sport event which was celebrated in Innsbruck, Tyrol, Austria, from January 29 to February 9, 1964. The city was already an Olympic candidate, unsuccessfully bidding to host the 1960 Games. Innsbruck won the 1964 Games bid defeating the cities of Calgary in Canada and Lahti in Finland. The sports venues, many of which were built for the Games, are located within a radius of around twenty kilometers around Innsbruck. The Games included 1,091 athletes from 36 nations, which was a record for the Winter Games at the time. Athletes participated in six sports and ten disciplines which bring together a total of thirty-four official events, seven more than the 1960. The luge made its debut on the Olympic program. Three Asian nations make their Winter Games debut: North Korea, India and Mongolia.

IX Olympic Winter Games
Emblem of the 1964 Winter Olympics[lower-alpha 1]
Host cityInnsbruck, Tyrol, Austria
Athletes1,091 (892 men, 199 women)
Events34 in 6 sports (10 disciplines)
Opening29 January
Closing9 February
Opened by

Two Soviet women dominate their respective disciplines: Lidia Skoblikova won all four women's races of speed skating while Klavdiya Boyarskikh won all three events of cross-country skiing. The Swedish cross-country skier Sixten Jernberg, a three-time medalist at these Games, became the first athlete to achieve nine medals at the Winter Games. In alpine skiing, the French sisters Christine and Marielle Goitschel each obtained a gold and a silver medal. The Soviet Union was first in the medal table with twenty-five medals, eleven of which are gold. The Soviet Union was followed by Austria, the host country, which won twelve medals, four of which are gold. Before the Games, the Austrian army was mobilized to deal with the lack of snow. They brought thousands of cubic meters of it from Brenner Pass, close to the Italian border. The Olympic Winter Games was held a second time in Innsbruck in 1976.

The Olympic Torch was carried by Joseph Rieder,[1] a former alpine skier who had participated in the 1956 Winter Olympics.

The Games were affected by the deaths of Australian alpine skier Ross Milne and British luge slider Kazimierz Kay-Skrzypeski, during training, and by the deaths, three years earlier, of the entire United States figure skating team and family members.

Bid and background for the Games

Host city selection

The city of Innsbruck, submitted its first Olympic bid in the 1950s to host the 1960 Winter Olympic Games. The Austrians had a convincing record and were viewed as the favorites to host the games. In the second round of the vote of the members of the International Olympic Committee (IOC) selected the American city of Squaw Valley.[2][3]

A month later, the Innsbruck authorities decided to enter a bid again for the 1964 Winter Games.[4] On 26 May 1959, during the 55th session of the (IOC) in Munich, West Germany, the Austrians were selected in a landslide for the Games with 49 votes in the first round, they are ahead of Calgary (Canada) which obtains 9 votes and Lahti (Finland) did not receive a vote.[2][5]

1964 Winter Olympics bidding result[6]
City Country Round 1
Innsbruck Austria49
Calgary Canada9
Lahti Finland0

Political situation

After the construction of the Berlin Wall in 1961 which increased tensions between East and West and despite the fact that East Germany wanted to have its own team, the IOC manages to maintain the United Team of Germany for the third consecutive Olympiad.[7] In the 1960s, the IOC also discussed the Olympic participation of South Africa, a country immersed in the apartheid regime. During the Games in Innbruck, the IOC President Avery Brundage announces that the country will not be able to participate in the 1964 Summer Olympics because of its policy of racial segregation in sport.[8] On the other hand, several African countries which have become independent are joining the Olympic movement: the national Olympic committees of Algeria, of Congo, from Nigeria and Sierra Leone are recognized by the IOC during the session held during the Innsbruck Games. The number of IOC member nations increases to 114.[9] In addition, the Innsbruck Games were used for the dissemination of political messages. Five Iranian students are arrested after marching with banners hostile to shah. Twenty other Iranians, who demonstrate for the release of prisoners in their country, are also imprisoned.[10]


Organizing Committee

The “Organizing Committee of the IX Winter Olympics in Innsbruck 1964” was formed on 2 June 1959. Heinrich Drimmel, President of the Austrian Olympic Committee and Federal Minister of Education, is elected as its president and Friedl Wolfgang is its secretary-general. The organizing committee is made up of the general assembly, the board of directors, the executive committee as well as eight sub-committees created to manage the different aspects of the Games: finance, construction, sports, transport, etc. accommodation and medical services, lodging, administration and checks.[11]

Financial aspects

The Innsbruck Games cost around one billion schillings, or 40 million US dollars distributed among the organizing committee, the Austrian state, the Land of Tyrol and the city of Innsbruck.[12][13] The organizers tired to moderate the expenses related to the provisional elements and to invest more money for the facilities which will continue to be used after the Games.[14] The Olympiaeisstadion costs 75 million schillings, the renovation of the Bergisel Ski Jump 15 million and the Olympic Sliding Centre Innsbruck 10 million. The development of ski slopes, cross-country skiing and biathlon require a total of 29 million. The Olympic village, intended to become a leisure center, costs 174 million. A total of 225 million is invested to renovate and develop the road network in the region.[15]


The 1964 edition was the third time that the Winter Games were broadcast on television and the second time that exclusive broadcasting rights were sold. This amount was increasing at a significant rate: when they were US$50,000 in 1960, the broadcasting rights yielded US$937,000 in 1964, which represents approximately 24 million schillings. Thirty countries broadcast the Games. The American channel ABC payed nearly 15.4 million schillings, or 64 per cent of the broadcast rights revenue. The Eurovision network spent around 7.6 million for 16 countries, the Soviet television SURк600,000 and the Intervision network US$550,000 for six countries in Western Europe.[16][17]



The Games were held over twelve days, from January 29 to February 9. Thirty-four events were on the program, an increase from twenty-seven at Squaw Valley four years earlier. Three luge events (individual men and women, doubles men) are included in the Olympic program. The two events of bobsleigh, which were absent from the 1960 Games due to the cost of building the track, returned to the Games. Finally, the ski jumping was divided into two events (small and large hill) and the women's 5-kilometer was added in cross-country skiing.[2] Ice stock sport (Eisstockschießen), a variant of curling popular in Alpine countries, was a demonstration sport as in Garmisch-Partenkirchen in 1936.[18] In total, 1,073,000 people attend the various events. The disciplines which attract the most spectators are alpine skiing and ice hockey.[19]

 OC Opening ceremony   Event competitions  1 Event finals  CC Closing ceremony
January 1964
February 1964
Cérémonies OC CCN/A
Biathlon 1 1
Bobsleigh   1   1 2
Nordic combined   1 1
Ice hockey                       1 1
Luge     2 1 3
Figure skating 1     1     1 3
Speed skating 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 8
Ski jumping 1 1 2
Alpine skiing 1 1 1 1 1 1 6
Cross-country skiing 1 1 1 2 1 1 7
Daily medal events 1 3 2 4 4 4 2 4 3 3 2 2 34
Total 1 4 6 10 14 18 20 24 27 30 32 34 34[21]

† The numeral indicates the number of event finals for each sport held that day.

Weather conditions before the Games

In the weeks leading up to the Games, temperatures often rose above zero degrees Celsius due to the foehn, a hot, dry wind. There was no major snowfall for seven weeks and the rain melted snow and ice at sports venues. This was the first time in around a century that the amount of snow has been so low in Tyrol.[2][12] Two weeks before the start of the Games, thousands of Austrian soldiers are mobilized to transport by truck 40,000m3 of snow from the Brenner Pass, close to the Italian border, and spread it by hand on the ski slopes. In addition, 20,000m3 of snow was built up and 20,000 blocks of ice were transported to the bobsleigh and toboggan run.[12][22][23]

Opening Ceremony

Winter Olympics open in Innsbruck, Josl Rieder lights the Olympic Caldron

The Opening Ceremony took place on January 29 at the Bergisel Ski Jump stadium in front of approximately 50,000 spectators. The Games are opened by the President of Austria Adolf Schärf. The bobsledder Paul Aste took the Olympic oath. Aste modified the oath slightly: instead of saying "for the glory of sport and the honor of our countries", he replaced the word "country" with "teams" to remove the nationalist elements of the oath. This was the first time that the Olympic flame of the Winter Games has been lit in front of the Temple of Hera in Olympia, Greece. In the stadium, the alpine skier Josef Rieder lit the cauldron. Tyrolean orchestras performed during the ceremony.[24][25][26]



The biathlon made its second Olympic appearance. As in 1960, the only event contested is a 20-kilometer cross-country ski race with four shooting ranges of 100 to 250 meters. Soviet athlete Vladimir Melanin, a heavy favorite, won the event. This was the first time he did not miss any of his twenty shots in a major competition. His compatriot Aleksandr Privalov, who also had a clear shot, was second after more than three minutes and the Norwegian Olav Jordet, who missed a target, won the bronze medal. The Finn Veikko Hakulinen was the fastest, but missed six shots and finished 15th.[27]


The Olympic Sliding Centre Innsbruck in 2011.

The bobsleigh was not on the program for the 1960 Winter Olympic Games, at Squaw Valley in the United States, because of the low number of crews and the cost of building the track. In 1964, bobsleigh events made a comeback and were contested on the Olympic Sliding Centre Innsbruck. Neither of the two Olympic champion teams, Great Britain and Canada, has a track in their country [28]

During the first round of the two-man event, the bobsleigh of the British Robin Dixon and Tony Nash was damaged and the competition's favorite, the Italian Eugenio Monti, lent them a axle bolt. After two rounds, the British beat the two Italian teams. After the third set, the Italians Sergio Zardini and Romano Bonagura beat Dixon and Nash by just five hundredths of a second. Finally, Dixon and Nash become Olympic champions with 12 hundredths ahead of silver medalists Zardini and Bonagura and 73 over third, Eugenio Monti and Sergio Siorpaes.[29] This is the only time in history that the British have won Olympic bobsleigh champions. After the Games, Monti receives the first Pierre de Coubertin medal for his sportsmanship towards the British team.[19]

The Canadians surprise in the four-man bobsleigh event. As the country competes for the first time in the Olympic bobsleigh events,[30] the pilot's team Vic Emery wins the first round by breaking the track record and then increases his lead in the following three rounds. Canada wins gold by more than a second ahead of Erwin Thaler 's Austrian bobsleigh and Eugenio Monti' s Italian bobsleigh.[31]

Nordic combined

The Nordic combined event takes place in the village of Seefeld in Tirol. On the first day, the competitors do three jumps and the two best results are recorded. The next day, they do a 15-kilometer cross-country ski race. The final ranking is established thanks to a new points system.[32]

The reigning Olympic champion, the German Georg Thoma, is first ahead of the Norwegian Tormod Knutsen and the Soviet Nikolay Kiselyov after the jumps. Knutsen needed to beat Thoma by at least twelve seconds in the cross-country ski race to pass him. He was well ahead of him by 1.33 and became Olympic champion. Kisseliov wins the silver medal. Thoma, who had wax problems and fell twice during the race, was finally third just 0.16 points behind Kisseliov after a tenth place in cross-country skiing.[33]

Ice hockey

The matches of ice hockey were played in the Olympiaeisstadion and the Messehalle. The sixteen participating teams first play a match to determine their group for the rest of the competition: group A (which allocates places 1 to 8) or in group B (places 9 to 16). Then, each team faces the other seven of its group.[34]

In Group A, the Soviet favorites won their seven matches and became Olympic champions. The tournament is actually very close since in the last game, the Soviets lost 2–1 against Canada after two periods to finally win 3–2; if they won, Canada would have won the gold medal. Behind the Soviet Union, three teams have five wins and two losses: Canada, Czechoslovakia and Sweden. These three teams are ranked by goal difference with Sweden receiving silver, Czechoslovakia bronze and Canada finishing fourth. The Americans, reigning Olympic champions, are fifth.[35] The Canadians, who are not satisfied with the method used to decide between Sweden and Czechoslovakia, boycott the medal ceremony.[10]


Olympic champion Ortrun Enderlein shortly after the Games.

Luge was a popular sport in the Alpine countries, the first competition of which dates back to 1831. The first international event was organized in 1928. The IOC decided in 1954 to include luge in the program of the 1964 Games to replace the skeleton, because there was only one only one track adapted to this sport: the Cresta Run of Saint-Moritz in Switzerland.[N 1] Three events are contested at the Games: individual for men and women and two for men. Some commentators believed that luge is too dangerous a sport to enter the Olympic program. The death of Poland-born British luger Kazimierz Kay-Skrzypeski during a test run two weeks before the start of the Games helped reinforce this \position. The luge events are dominated by the Germans, who take five out of six medals individually.[36][37]

During the men's individual event, a German trio dominate the competition: the 1962 world champion Thomas Köhler as well as Klaus Bonsack and Hans Plenk are the top three in each of the first three rounds. , won respectively by Köhler, Bonsack and again Köhler. Bonsack also wins the fourth round. Finally, Köhler is Olympic champion with 27 hundredths ahead of Bonsack and 3.38 of Plenk.[38]

The German Ilse Geisler, world champion in 1962 and 1963, was the favorite in the women's event. However, it was her compatriot Ortrun Enderlein who won the first three races. Geiser took a lot of risks in the last heat and makes a big mistake as Enderlein wins again. Enderlein is Olympic champion with almost three seconds ahead of Geisler. The Austrian Helene Thurner won the bronze medal.[39]

The doubles event, which takes place over two rounds, is dominated by the Austrians. Indeed, Josef Feistmantl and Manfred Stengl won the first round ahead of Reinhold Senn and Helmut Thaler. The latter won the second round without worrying Feistmantl and Stengl, crowned Olympic champions. Italians Walter Aussendorfer and Sigisfredo Mair are bronze medalists.[40]

Figure skating

Dutch Figure Skater Sjoukje Dijkstra practicing at the 1964 Olympics

The figure skating events are held at the Olympiaeisstadion. Individually, men and women perform a free skate and compulsory figures while, for the last time in an international competition, the couples only present one program.[41] Computers are used for refereeing, which is new to the Olympics. The data processing system provided by the company IBM allows scores to be announced instantly. In addition to figure skating, information is sent to a data center at University of Innsbruck from eleven other facilities.[42]

In the men's event, the German Manfred Schnelldorfer becomes Olympic champion by winning each round. The Frenchman Alain Calmat, slightly favored, is for his part in second place.[43] The American Scott Allen wins the bronze medal, two days before his fifteenth birthday. He thus becomes the youngest medalist in the history of the Winter Games.[44]

The big favorite in the women's event, the Dutch Sjoukje Dijkstra, easily became Olympic champion. She is in fact placed in the first row by the nine judges. In front of the Dutch royal family, she won the first Dutch gold medal at the Winter Games. The Austrian Regine Heitzer is a silver medalist with a small lead over the Canadian Petra Burka, a bronze medalist.[45][46]

The Soviets Ludmila Belousova and Oleg Protopopov, who formed a married couple, narrowly won the pair event ahead of the German favorites Marika Kilius and Hans-Jürgen Bäumler. The bronze medal goes to Canadians Debbi Wilkes and Guy Revell. Olympic athletes must be amateurs s, and in 1966 Kilius and Bäumler had to return their medals because of a professional contract signed before the Games. The Canadians receive a silver medal and the Americans Vivian and Ronald Joseph, initially fourth, receive a bronze medal. In 1987, however, the IOC decided to return the medals of the German couple. The results are then plunged into confusion since the different rankings do not indicate the same information. In 2013, the IOC indicated that the Soviets had the gold medal, the Canadians and the Germans shared the silver medal and the Americans the bronze medal. He specifies these are the official results since 1987.[47][48]

Speed skating

Lidia Skoblikova in 1967.

The speed skating events take place on an outdoor track set up around the Olympiaeisstadion. While the Soviets dominate the women's events, the men's podiums are more international.[49]

The American Terry McDermott, who was not yet one of the favorites, wins the men's 500 meters setting a new Olympic record. Taking part in his first international competition, he borrowed skates from his trainer Leo Freisinger. Three athletes, including the favorite of the event Yevgeny Grishin, share second place.[50] The Soviet Ants Antson wins the gold medal in the 1,500 meters, ahead of the Dutch Kees Verkerk and the Norwegian Villy Haugen, at the end of a very close race.[51] The Norwegians score a hat-trick in the 5,000 meters. Knut Johannesen is a gold medalist beating the Olympic record just two tenths ahead of Per Ivar Moe.[52] Finally, the Swede Jonny Nilsson won the 10,000 meters ahead of the Norwegians Fred Anton Maier and Knut Johannesen. This race is controversial because Nilsson is one of the few to skate before the wind picks up and enjoys better ice than most of the other competitors.[46][53]

Irina Yegorova, Lidiya Skoblikova, and Kaija Mustonen on the podium during the 1964 Winter Olympics,

The Soviet Lidia Skoblikova won all four races at the 1963 world championships. A big favorite, she reproduced the same performance at the 1964 Olympic Games, breaking the Olympic record each time. She thus becomes the first athlete to win four gold medals in one edition of the Winter Games and the first, after her two titles in 1960, to accumulate six gold medals in several editions. Skoblikova first won the 500 meters ahead of her compatriots Irina Yegorova and Tatyana Sidorova. On 1,000 meters, she is ahead of Irina Iegorova and the Finn Kaija Mustonen. She dominates the 1,500 meters with almost three seconds ahead of Mustonen.[54][55] Finally, Skoblikova took the 5,000 meters with almost four seconds. The North Korean Han Pil-hwa, almost unknown before the Games, created a surprise: tied with Skoblikova halfway through the course, she was finally tied for second with the Soviet Valentina Stenina. North Korea participates in the Games for the first time; this is the country's first Olympic medal.[56] Upon her return home, Skoblikova was made a member of the Communist Party and became the first woman to win the title of Soviet Sportsman of the Year.[9]

Ski jumping

Toralf Engan, Veikko Kankkonen and Torgeir Brandtzaeg, medalists for Large hill individual at 1964 Olympics

For the first time in 1964, two ski jumping events were contested at the Olympic Games: those of the small hill, contested at Toni-Seelos-Olympiaschanze and that of the big hill, which takes place at Bergisel Ski Jump. They have a construction point of respectively 70 and 90 meters. Athletes jump three times and their two best results count in each event.[26][57]

The Czechoslovak Josef Matouš surprises by winning the first round of the normal hill while the Finn Veikko Kankkonen, who is among the favorites, is only twenty-ninth. Kankkonen had the best jump of the competition in the second set, at 80 meters, and the Norwegian Toralf Engan took the lead. After the third round, Kankkonen who again produces a good jump becomes Olympic champion. Toralf Engan is second while young Norwegian Torgeir Brandtzæg takes third place.[58] In the first round of the big hill, Veikko Kankkonen took the lead in front of Toralf Engan with a jump of 95.5 meters. Engan takes the first place after the second jump, while Kankkonen and Brandtzæg follow closely behind. Brandtzæg finished with a good jump unlike his two rivals. The medalists are the same as for the normal hill, but this time Engan is Olympic champion ahead of Kankkonen.[59]

Alpine skiing

Marielle Goitschel in 2008.

Most alpine skiing events are held at Axamer Lizum, with the men's downhill being held at Igls. Three events are on the program for men and women: downhill, giant slalom and slalom. For the first time at the Olympics, athletes are timed to the hundredth of a second. The competition is in mourning for the death of Australian Ross Milne, who crashes into a tree during downhill training.[26][60]

The Austrian Egon Zimmermann wins the men's downhill with 74 hundredths ahead of the French Léo Lacroix and 1.32 over the German Wolfgang Bartels.[61] For the last time at the Olympics, the men's giant slalom is held in a single round. The French François Bonlieu wins the race ahead of the Austrian favorites: Karl Schranz is second Josef Stiegler is third.[62] For the first time, the Olympic slalom has a two-round qualifying phase. The 25 best take part in the two final rounds which determine the ranking of the event. Austrian officials try to replace Josef Stiegler with Egon Zimmermann, but Stiegler competes in the slalom under public pressure. He finally wins the event. The Americans Billy Kidd and Jimmy Heuga, second and third respectively, win their country's first Olympic medals in alpine skiing.[63][64]

In the women's downhill, the Austrians achieved the second treble in the history of the Winter Games in alpine skiing. The favorite Christl Haas is Olympic champion more than a second ahead of Edith Zimmermann and Traudl Hecher.[65] The technical events are dominated by two French women, the Goitschel sisters. Marielle Goitschel, aged 18, won the first round of the slalom ahead of her sister Christine, one year her senior. Christine is the fastest in the second run. She is Olympic champion ahead of Marielle while the bronze medal is awarded to the American Jean Saubert.[66] Two days later, Christine Goitschel takes the lead in the giant slalom. His time was then equaled by Jean Saubert. Marielle Goitschel, the fourteenth skier to set off, is almost a second ahead of them. The eldest Goitschel is this time first while her sister shares second place with Saubert.[67]

Cross-country skiing

Sixten Jernberg during the 1964 Olympics.

The cross-country skiing events take place near the village of Seefeld in Tirol. The men compete as usual in individual over 15, 30 and 50 kilometer as well as in the 4 × 10 kilometer relay. On the other hand, women compete for the first time at the Olympic Games the 5 kilometer, introduced at the world championships in 1962, in addition to the 10 kilometer and the relay 3 × 5 kilometer.[68]

Men's events start with the 30 kilometers. The Finn Eero Mäntyranta wins the race ahead of the Norwegian Harald Grønningen and the Soviet Igor Voronchikhin. The Swede Sixten Jernberg, favorite after his six Olympic medals obtained in 1956 and 1960, finished fifth. Eight of the top nine athletes are Scandinavian.[69][70] In the 15 kilometer played three days later, Eero Mäntyranta was once again crowned Olympic champion ahead of Harald Grønningen. Sixten Jernberg wins bronze, his seventh Olympic medal.[71] The day before his 35th birthday, Jernberg took the lead at the end of the 50 kilometer. He won gold, his eighth Olympic medal, finishing more than a minute ahead of his compatriot Assar Rönnlund.[72] The end of the relay 4 × 10 kilometer takes the form of a duel between the Finnish Eero Mäntyranta and the Swede Assar Rönnlund, who overtake the Soviet Pavel Kolchin one kilometer from the finish . Sweden finally won the event with eight seconds ahead of Finland and twelve over the Soviet Union. Jernberg ended his Olympic career with nine medals including four gold, which is a new record.[73][74]

Soviet skiers dominate the women's events as they win six of the seven possible medals.[68] In the 10 kilometer, very tight, they achieved the treble as in 1960: Klavdiya Boyarskikh ahead Yevdokiya Mekshilo and Maria Gusakova. For the first time among women, non-European cross-country skiers take part in the Olympic Games. The two North Koreans and the two Mongols, however, take the last four places.[75][76] Boyarskikh also won the very close Olympic 5 km first, while Finland's Mirja Lehtonen surprised by taking second place. The Soviet Alevtina Kolchina is third.[77] Finally, the Soviets won the relay 3 × 5 kilometer for the first time. They are well ahead of the Swedes by two minutes and the Finns by three minutes.[78] Klavdiya Boyarskikh wins his third gold medal at these Games.[68]

Closing Ceremony

The Closing Ceremony took place on February 9 at the Olympiaeisstadion.[24] The flags of Greece, the founding nation of the Olympic Games, Austria, the host country, and France, the host country of the next Games, were raised to the sound of the national anthems. The President of the IOC Avery Brundage officially declared the Games closed before the extinction of the Olympic flame.[79]

Games highlights

  • The games was opened by a concert performed by Vienna Philharmonic, under the baton of Karl Böhm. Beethoven's 7th Symphony and Mozart's 40th Symphony were performed in the opening concert.
  • Normally snowy Innsbruck was threatened by a lack of snow. The Austrian army carved out 20,000 ice bricks from a mountain top and transported them to the bobsled and luge runs. They also carried 40,000 cubic meters of snow to the Alpine skiing courses. The army packed down the slopes by hand and foot.[80] (A heavy snowfall occurred immediately after the Games.)[81]
  • Lidia Skoblikova won all of the women's speed skating events.
  • Italian bobsleigh pilot Eugenio Monti distinguished himself by helping Britain's Tony Nash and Robin Dixon to win the gold medals when he loaned them an axle bolt to replace one that was broken. The Italians took bronze, but Monti was honored as the first recipient of the Pierre de Coubertin medal for sportsmanship.
  • Egon Zimmermann of Austria took the gold medal in the men's downhill alpine skiing event.
  • In the 4 man bobsled, the Canadian team won the gold medal with a total winning time of 4:14.46.
  • Norway's Knut Johannesen won the men's 5,000m speed skating event in an Olympic record time of 7:38.40.
  • Klavdiya Boyarskikh of the USSR earned three gold medals in cross-country skiing and, on the men's side, Finnish Eero Mäntyranta won two and earned the nickname "Mr. Seefeld" after the venue because of his domination.
  • In alpine skiing, French sisters Christine and Marielle Goitschel finished first and second in both the slalom and the giant slalom.
  • Ski jumping gained a second event, and the sport of luge made its Olympic debut.
  • Politically, the Games were notable because East and West Germany entered a combined team for the last time.
  • For the first time the Closing Ceremonies were held at a different place than the Opening Ceremonies.

Table of medals

The medals of the Innsbruck Games.

Fourteen of the thirty-six nations participating in these Games win at least one medal, as detailed in the table below. Already first in 1956 and 1960, Soviet Union comes far ahead of this table with twenty-five medals: eleven gold, eight silver and six bronze. The host country, ninth four years earlier, is second this time with twelve medals, including seven in alpine skiing. Norway, fourth in 1964, comes third with fifteen medals.[2][25] For the first time since 1936, the Americans won only one gold medal.[82]

Most Medalist Athletes

The Soviets also dominate the ranking of the most medal-winning athletes as the speed skater Lidia Skoblikova and cross-country skier Klavdiya Boyarskikh come first and second.[25]


The men's descent takes place on the slopes of the Patscherkofel.

Several sports venues are built especially for the Games. New slopes for alpine skiing are being developed near the village of Axamer Lizum, about twenty kilometers from Innsbruck. There is a bobsleigh and luge track in Igls, seven kilometers south of Innsbruck. The runway, 1506 meters long, has 14 curves and a drop of 138 meters.[12][28] For the first time at the Games, the bobsleigh track uses artificial ice.[19] The Olympiaeisstadion, an eleven thousand-seat ice rink completed in 1963 and located in the center of Innsbruck, hosts the competitions of figure skating and most games of ice hockey. The other hockey matches are played at the Messehalle. The speed skating ring, made of artificial ice, is installed outside the Olympiaeisstadion.[2][34][49]


The ski jumping events are held on the Toni-Seelos-Olympiaschanze (normal hill) at Seefeld in Tirol and the Bergisel Ski Jump (big jump) in Innsbruck. The Bergisel ski jump, built in wood in 1920, was replaced by a concrete ski jump. The cross-country skiing and biathlon tracks are located in Seefeld, like the small hill.[83][2] The opening ceremony is celebrated at the foot of the Bergisel ski jump while the closing ceremony takes place at the Olympiaeisstadion.[24] An Olympic Village consisting of eight eleven-storey buildings is built outside the city.[12]

Participating nations

A total of 36 nations send athletes to Innsbruck, six more than in Squaw Valley in 1960. The total number of athletes was 1,091, up from 665 four years earlier.[2] Mongolia, India and North Korea participate in the Winter Games for the first time. Belgium, Great Britain, Greece, Iran, Romania and Yugoslavia returned to this competition after missing it in 1960. On the other hand, South Africa, South Korea and New Zealand, which took part in Squaw Valley, did not compete in Innsbruck. Athletes from West Germany (FGR) and East Germany (GDR) competed together as Unified Team Germany from 1956 to 1964.[84]

The number indicated in brackets is the number of athletes entered in the official events for each country.[25]

Participating National Olympic Committees

Number of athletes by National Olympic Committees

Medal count

These are the top ten nations that won medals at these Games:

  *   Host nation (Austria)

1 Soviet Union118625
2 Austria*45312
3 Norway36615
4 Finland34310
5 France3407
6 United Team of Germany3339
7 Sweden3317
8 United States1247
9 Canada1113
10 Netherlands1102
Totals (10 nations)33372797

Podium sweeps

Date Sport Event NOC Gold Silver Bronze
30 January Speed skating Women's 500 metres  Soviet Union Lidiya Skoblikova Irina Yegorova Tatyana Sidorova
1 February Cross-country skiing Women's 10 kilometre  Soviet Union Klavdiya Boyarskikh Yevdokiya Mekshilo Mariya Gusakova
4 February Luge Men's singles  United Team of Germany Thomas Köhler Klaus-Michael Bonsack Hans Plenk
5 February Speed skating Men's 5000 metres  Norway Knut Johannesen Per Ivar Moe Fred Anton Maier
6 February Alpine skiing Women's downhill  Austria Christl Haas Edith Zimmermann Traudl Hecher

Prior fatalities

Two fatal events before the 1964 Winter Olympics affected the outcome and mood of the Games:

  • Australian alpine skier Ross Milne and British luge slider Kazimierz "Kay" Skrzypecki died during training shortly before the Games.[85][86] The organizing committee said that Ross crashed into a tree during a training run. The IOC suggested that inexperience might have played a role in Ross's death. Manager John Wagner suggested that overcrowding played a role, saying that Milne had tried to slow down "on a spot which was not prepared for stopping or swinging" to avoid a crowd of contestants. His brother Malcolm Milne competed at the 1968 and 1972 Winter Olympics.
  • On February 15, 1961, the entire United States Figure Skating team and several family members, coaches, and officials were killed when Sabena Flight 548 crashed in Brussels, Belgium, en route to the World Championships in Prague. The accident caused the cancellation of the 1961 World Championships and necessitated the building of a new American skating program.[citation needed]

There were also several injuries which occurred prior to the event.

  • Liechtenstein Alpine skiiers Wolfgang Ender broke his leg and Edmund Schaedler fractured his arm in a crash close to the same location as Australian Milne, only a few minutes after the fatality occurred.[85][86]
  • German tobogganer Josef Fleischmann crashed during practices.[85][86]

Reactions and fallout


Observers note the very good organization of the Games. The events went off without problems despite the lack of snow before the Games. On the other hand, they find that the atmosphere, too austere, is much less warm and festive than in previous Games. Controls are very strict and athletes must pay to attend competitions.[75][87][2] The fact that the athletes are housed 15 kilometers from Innsbruck and hardly appear in town is also criticized.[12]


In the 1970s, the American city of Denver chosen to host the 1976 Winter Olympics rejected the bid, and could not ensure the organization of the competition. About ten cities applied to take over the Games and Innsbruck was selected. The main reasons for this choice are the venues built for the 1964 Games, which keep costs down, and their good organization.[88] The Olympic venues subsequently hosted various sports competitions such as the Four Hills Tournament, Bobsleigh and Luge World Cup events, the Winter Universiade and the Ice Hockey World Championship in 2005 and the first Winter Youth Olympic Games in 2012.[89][90]

See also



  1. The emblem represents the coat of arms of Innsbruck, which shows the bridge on the Inn River that connects the old town and the Hötting district.
  1. The skeleton will be part of the Olympic program again from 2002


  1. "Olympic Winter Games Innsbruck 1964" (history), kiat.net, webpage: KIAT-Innsbruck Archived 2006-11-09 at the Wayback Machine.
  2. Pierre Lagrue. Encyclopædia Universalis (ed.). "Innsbruck (Olympic Games) 1964 – Context, organization, report" (in French). Retrieved January 12, 2014.
  3. Adams 2004, p. 345
  4. Wolfgang & Neumann 1967, p. 9
  5. "the International Olympic Committee Vote History". Archived from the original on 2008-05-25. Retrieved 2008-06-10.
  6. "Past Olympic host election results". GamesBids. Retrieved June 8, 2021.
  7. Espy 1981, p. 77
  8. Espy 1981, p. 87
  9. Adams 2004, p. 348
  10. Adams 2004, p. 349
  11. Wolfgang & Neumann 1967, pp. 11–12
  12. Adams 2004, p. 346
  13. "Österreich / Olympische Spiele: Neue Schalter" [Austria / Olympic Games: New switches]. Der Spiegel (in German). January 14, 1964. Retrieved January 16, 2014.
  14. "Les IXes Jeux Olympiques d'Hiver Innsbruck 1964" (PDF). Olympic Review. 1962. Archived from the original (pdf) on 26 August 2016. Retrieved January 16, 2014.
  15. Wolfgang & Neumann 1967, pp. 252–253
  16. Monnin 2010, p. 203
  17. Wolfgang & Neumann 1967, p. 256
  18. "Eisstockschiessen". Encyclopædia Britannica. Retrieved June 8, 2021.
  19. "Monti's Olympic spirit rewarded with double gold". Olympics.com. International Olympic Committee. 14 February 1968. Retrieved 8 June 2021.
  20. This competition is a demonstration.
  21. Wolfgang & Neumann 1967, p. 22-24
  22. Mogore 1989, p. 95
  23. Wallechinsky 2001, p. xiv
  24. Pierre Lagrue. Encyclopædia Universalis (ed.). "Innsbruck (Olympic Games) 1964 – Chronology" (in French). Retrieved June 8, 2021.
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  26. Adams 2004, p. 347
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  46. Valle 1988, p. 100
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  53. Wallechinsky 2001, p. 121
  54. Monnin 2010, p. 73
  55. Wallechinsky 2001, pp. 125–138
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  64. Wallechinsky 2001, p. 208
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  69. Monnin 2010, pp. 73–74
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  75. Monnin 2010, p. 75
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  79. Wolfgang & Neumann 1967, pp. 335–336
  80. www.Olympic.org
  81. "Athletes quit Olympics site". Spokane Daily Chronicle. (Washington). Associated Press. February 11, 1964. p. 15.
  82. Mogore 1989, p. 102
  83. Wolfgang & Neumann 1967, pp. 22–23
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  85. "Milne, 19, Loses Control at 60 M.P.H. and Runs Into Tree in Drill". New York Times. Innsbruck. January 26, 1964. Retrieved 8 June 2021.
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  87. Valle 1988, p. 97
  88. Adams 2004, p. 368
  89. Manuel Fasser (February 13, 2010). "Innsbruck: Zweimal Olympia, und was jetzt?" [Innsbruck: Two Olympics, and now what?]. Die Presse (in German). Retrieved August 3, 2014.
  90. "Innsbruck bénéficie d'une nouvelle génération de legs olympiques" [Innsbruck benefits from a new generation of Olympic legacies]. olympic.org (in French). 12 December 2013. Archived from the original on 2014-02-02.