The 1948 Winter Olympics, officially known as the V Olympic Winter
Games (French: Les Ves Jeux olympiques d'hiver; German: Olympische
Winterspiele 1948; Italian: V Giochi olimpici invernali; Romansh:
Gieus olimpics d'enviern 1948), was a winter multi-sport event
celebrated in 1948 in St. Moritz, Switzerland. The Games were the
first to be celebrated after World War II; it had been 12 years since
the last Winter Games in 1936. From the selection of a host city in a
neutral country to the exclusion of
Japan and Germany, the political
atmosphere of the post-war world was inescapable during the Games. The
organizing committee faced several challenges due to the lack of
financial and human resources consumed by the war. These were the
first of two winter
Olympic Games under the IOC presidency of Sigfrid
There were 28 nations that marched in the opening ceremonies on
January 30, 1948. Nearly 670 athletes competed in 22 events in four
sports. The Games also featured two demonstration sports: military
patrol, which later became the biathlon, and winter pentathlon, which
was discontinued after these Games. Notable performances were turned
in by figure skaters
Dick Button and
Barbara Ann Scott
Barbara Ann Scott and skier Henri
Oreiller. Most of the athletic venues were already in existence from
the first time
St. Moritz hosted the Winter Games in 1928. All of the
venues were outdoors, which meant the Games were heavily dependent on
favorable weather conditions.
1 Host city selection
3.1 Impact of World War II
4.2 Ice Hockey
4.3 Figure skating
4.4 Speed skating
4.5 Alpine skiing
4.6 Cross-country skiing
4.8 Nordic combined
4.9 Ski jumping
4.10 Demonstration sports
7 Participating nations
7.1 Number of athletes by National Olympic Committees
8 Medal count
9 See also
11 External links
Host city selection
The IOC selected
St. Moritz to host the 1948 Games at the 39th general
session in Lausanne, Switzerland, in September 1946. The selection
process consisted of two bids, and saw
St. Moritz be selected ahead of
Lake Placid, United States.
St. Moritz was selected because it was
located in Switzerland, which had remained neutral during the war, and
also because it had already hosted a Winter Games in 1928. This made
the organization of the Games simpler and more economical. Despite the
existence of many of the venues, it was still a difficult task to
Winter Olympic Games
Winter Olympic Games in less than 18 months.
St. Moritz in Switzerland
The Comite Olympique (CO) was composed of local dignitaries and
members of the Swiss
National Olympic Committee
National Olympic Committee (COS). They decided
to separate into several sub-committees responsible for various
aspects of the Games. These committees included housing and
maintenance, venue construction, finances, and media and
advertising. The local committees worked very closely with the
Swiss federal government and the IOC to ensure that the organization
of the Games proceeded without hindrance. Since no athletes'
village existed from the previous Games, the athletes and officials
were housed in hotels around the city. It was very important for
the committees to draw upon their experiences from the 1928 Olympics.
Their selection of locations for the various events was contingent on
the weather conditions as all the events were held outdoors.
Over 800 people were involved in reporting the news of the Games to
the world. Nearly 500 press credentials were issued by the Press
Commission for the Games. Television would not make its Olympic debut
until 1956. The coverage of the 1948 Games was split between
newspapers and radio broadcasts. The organizing committee had to
provide technology, such as long distance telephone lines and
telegraph services, to assist the press in communicating with their
Over 2,200 people were needed to provide all the services for the
press, officials and athletes at the Games. These services included
sanitation, security, and care of the venues. Accommodating the
influx of people into
St. Moritz was a difficult task for the
organizing committee. It was complicated by the mountainous region in
which the community was situated. A massive project to improve the
village's transportation infrastructure had to be completed prior to
the Games. This included building and widening roads for vehicular
traffic. Several train stations were built to accommodate the
increased demands for public transit. They also had to increase the
capacity of the city's sewers. All of the projects had to be approved
by the Swiss government, and justified by its impact on the success of
the Games. To aid the organizing committee the IOC demanded that
all participating nations provide lists of their athletes several
months prior to the Games. Consequently, the Swiss knew exactly how
many athletes and officials to plan for.
Since these Games were the first since World War II they were given
the name "The Games of Renewal."
Germany were not invited
to these Games because they were still ostracized by the international
community for their role in World War II. Their absence was
short-lived though, as they returned to Olympic competition in
Soviet Union did not send athletes to the St. Moritz
Games of 1948, but they did send ten delegates as observers of the
Games to determine how successful the Soviet athletes would have been
had they competed.
Impact of World War II
Japan had been the choice for the 1940 Winter Games. In
1938 the Japanese decided to decline the invitation to host the Games
claiming that preparations for the
Olympic Games were draining the
country's resources. The IOC turned to the host of the 1936 Games,
Garmisch-Partenkirchen, which would make it the only city to host
consecutive Games. This became impractical when
Poland on September 1, 1939; subsequently
Germany withdrew its bid to
host the Games. Finland believed it could host the Games and extended
an invitation to the IOC, but the Soviet Union's invasion of Finland
ended all hope of an
Olympic Games in 1940. The 1944 Winter
Olympics had been awarded to Cortina d'Ampezzo, Italy in 1939. As the
war continued, this proved to be impractical and the second
consecutive olympiad passed without a celebration of the Games. The
IOC was presented with two possible host cities for the first post-war
Games: Lake Placid,
United States and St. Moritz, Switzerland. The IOC
decided to award the Games to Switzerland, a neutral country,
immediately following World War II, in order to avoid political
posturing on the part of former combatants.
The impact of World War II was still being felt in 1948. The lack of
financial resources and human energy made the organization of the
Games challenging. Athletes were also affected by a lack of
resources. Many competitors arrived with little or no equipment. In
one notable case, Norwegian skiers had to borrow skis from the
American team in order to compete.
Medals were awarded in 22 events contested in 4 sports (9
Bobsleigh (2) (details)
Skeleton (1) (details)
Ice hockey (1) (details)
Figure skating (3) (details)
Speed skating (4) (details)
Alpine skiing (6) (details)
Nordic skiing (details)
Cross-country skiing (3) (details)
Nordic combined (1) (details)
Ski jumping (1) (details)
There were also two demonstration sports, military patrol and the
Bobsleigh at the 1948 Winter Olympics
Two sliding sports were contested at the 1948 Winter Games, the first
was bobsled. A controversy erupted when it was alleged that the sleds
United States team had been sabotaged. It was discovered that
the steering wheels had been damaged. After news broke of the
apparent improprieties a truck driver stepped forward and admitted to
having accidentally backed into the shed housing the bobsleds. The
accident however did not hinder the
United States teams who won a
bronze in the two-man event and a gold and a bronze in the four-man
event. The Swiss two-man teams placed first and second, which is
the best possible results for the event since only two teams were
allowed to enter. The driver of the first place team, Felix
Endrich, beat his coach, the driver of the second place team, Fritz
Ice hockey at the 1948 Winter Olympics
The ice hockey tournament was won by Canada, with Czechoslovakia
Switzerland third. This was the fifth Olympic gold
medal for Canada in hockey. The only team to beat Canada since hockey
was introduced at the
1920 Summer Olympics
1920 Summer Olympics was Great Britain at the
1936 Winter Olympics. The tournament was almost cancelled when
rival teams representing the
United States arrived. An Amateur
Athletic Union (AAU) team was supported by the
United States Olympic
Committee (USOC), and an
Amateur Hockey Association
Amateur Hockey Association (AHA) team was
supported by the
Ligue Internationale de Hockey sur Glace
Ligue Internationale de Hockey sur Glace (LIHG).
International Olympic Committee
International Olympic Committee ruled that neither team could
compete, but the Swiss organizing committee allowed the AAU team to
march in the opening ceremony, and the AHA team to play unofficially,
without being eligible for medals.
Figure skating at the 1948 Winter Olympics
Barbara Ann Scott
Barbara Ann Scott became the first and only Canadian woman to win an
Olympic gold medal in figure skating, when she won the competition at
St. Moritz. Despite the distraction caused by a low-flying airplane
during her compulsory routine, she was able to muster the focus to
place first entering the free skate. The ice had been shredded the
night before the free skate by two ice hockey games (the ice
resurfacer had not yet been invented); nonetheless she was able to
adjust her routine to avoid the potholes and emerge victorious.
Dick Button completed the unprecedented
North American sweep of the figure skating gold medals. He led the
field after the compulsory skate and then won the gold medal by
becoming the first person to ever complete a double axel in
competition. Later in the 1952 Olympics,
Dick Button would win gold a
second time. His victory came at the expense of Swiss world
Hans Gerschwiler who fell during the free skate. Despite
the mishap Gershwiler would win the silver medal.
Speed skating at the 1948 Winter Olympics
The speed skating competition was held on the same rink that had
hosted the events in 1928. At 1,856 m (6,089 ft) above sea
level, the speed skating competition was held at the second highest
altitude in Olympic history, only Squaw Valley in 1960 was higher.
The competition was dominated by the Scandinavian countries of Norway
and Sweden who won nine out of the twelve possible medals.
Scandinavians had done poor in speed skating events up until the 1948
Games. The reason for their success was that speed skating in Europe
had come to a stand still during World War II. Only countries that
were ancillary to the conflict had the resources to keep their speed
skating programs intact. The 500 meter race was won by Finn
Helgesen of Norway. There was a three-way tie for second place between
Thomas Byberg and Americans Robert Fitzgerald and Kenneth
Bartholomew. All three had finished in exactly 43.2 seconds.
Åke Seyffarth won a gold medal in the 10,000 meter race
and a silver medal in the 1,500 meter race. The
5,000 meter event was affected by weather. The twenty racers
encountered both wind, sun, and snow in the course of the day's
competition. Finally long-distance specialist
Reidar Liaklev from
Alpine skiing at the 1948 Winter Olympics
Alpine skiing made its Olympic debut at these Games. A few events
had been held at the 1936 Games but the
St. Moritz Games featured a
full slate of three men's and three women's alpine events.
Henri Oreiller won a medal in all three Alpine events; gold
in the downhill and combined, and bronze in the slalom. He was one
of only two athletes to win two gold medals at the 1948 Games, and
he was also the only athlete to win three or more medals.
Austria dominated the women's alpine events, winning five out of a
possible nine medals.
Trude Beiser was a double-medal winner, earning
gold in the combined event and silver in the downhill. She was not the
only female skier to win two medals though,
United States skier
Gretchen Fraser won gold in the slalom and took silver behind Beiser
in the combined. Austrian
Erika Mahringer earned two medals by
winning bronze medals in both the slalom and the combined.
Cross-country skiing at the 1948 Winter Olympics
In cross-country skiing a total of 106 skiers from 15 nations competed
in three events. The events were the 50 kilometer race, the
18 kilometer race and the 4 x 10 kilometer
relay. There were no women's events at the 1948 Games. Martin
Lundström of Sweden was the other athlete to win two gold medals when
he won the 18 kilometer race and participated on the winning
cross-country relay team. Overall Sweden won seven out of a possible
fifteen medals in the Nordic events, including all three gold medals
and a sweep of the 18 kilometer race. All fifteen medals were won
by either Sweden, Norway, or Finland.
Main article: Skeleton at the 1948 Winter Olympics
Skeleton made its second appearance at the Olympics during these
Games. It debuted at the
1928 Winter Olympics
1928 Winter Olympics also held in St. Moritz.
Skeleton was a form of luge, which had originally appeared in the St.
Moritz region at the end of the 19th century. American John Heaton
won his second
Olympic medal in the skeleton, he won his first
20 years earlier when he was 19 years old. Italian
Nino Bibbia won the gold medal. It was the first of his 231
career wins on the Cresta Boblsed track. One of the curves at Cesana
Pariol, where the bobsled, luge, and skeleton events took place at the
2006 Winter Olympics
2006 Winter Olympics in Turin, was named after Bibbia.
Nordic combined at the 1948 Winter Olympics
Nordic combined event had been contested at each Winter Olympics
Nordic combined required athletes to first compete in the
open 18 kilometer cross-country ski race alongside the other
cross-country competitors. Their times would be assigned a point
value. Two days later the athletes would take two jumps off the ski
jump hill. The jumps would be given a point value and the longest jump
would be combined with their cross-country time to create a score.
Nordic combined power Norway was stunned at the 1948 Games
Heikki Hasu became the first non-Norwegian to win the
event. In fact Norway did not even make the podium. Hasu's teammate
Martti Huhtala took the silver and
Sven Israelsson from Sweden won the
Ski jumping at the 1948 Winter Olympics
The Norwegians swept the ski jumping event.
Birger Ruud had won the
gold medal in the ski jumping event at both the 1932 and 1936 Winter
Games. The twelve-year hiatus due to World War II meant that Ruud was
36 years old in 1948. He had retired from competition and was coaching
the Norwegian team. However, when he arrived at the Games he decided
to come out of retirement and compete one last time. Despite not
having competed for several years he earned a silver medal.
Petter Hugsted won the gold and teammate Thorleif
Schjelderup won the bronze.
Military patrol at the 1948 Winter Olympics and Winter
pentathlon at the 1948 Winter Olympics
Two demonstration sports were held at the 1948 Games. Military patrol
had been a demonstration sport at the 1924, 1928, and 1936 Winter
Olympic Games. It entailed a combination of cross-country skiing and
shooting at targets. Eventually the competition would be renamed
Biathlon and was made an official
Olympic medal sport at the 1960
Games in Squaw Valley, United States. Winter pentathlon involved
five competitions: 10 kilometer cross-country ski race, shooting,
downhill skiing, fencing and horseback riding. This was the first
and last time the event was held. Fourteen competitors took part in
All dates are in
Central European Time
Central European Time (UTC+1)
The opening ceremonies were held at 10:00 am on January 30 along with
the initial hockey games and the first two runs of the two-man
bobsled. The closing ceremonies were held at 4:00 pm on February 8.
All of the medals were awarded at the closing ceremonies rather than
immediately after the event as current tradition dictates.
● ● ● ●
Total gold medals
Olympiaschanze ski jump hill in St. Moritz
Main article: Venues of the 1948 Winter Olympics
The Stad Olympique (Olympic Stadium) hosted the opening and closing
ceremonies. The stadium was also used for speed skating, the figure
skating competition and the medal games for ice hockey. Most of
the ice hockey games were held at the Suvretta and Kulm stadiums in
St. Moritz. Bobsled was held at the St. Moritz-Celerina Olympic
Bobrun. Skeleton was contested on the
Cresta Run track. Olympia Bob
Run was built in 1897 and modernized for the 1948 Games while the
Cresta Run was first constructed in 1885. The ski jump
competitions were held at
Olympiaschanze ski jump hill in St. Moritz.
It was built in 1927 for the 1928 Games, and remained in use until
2006. The alpine events were held on ski-runs in and around Piz
28 nations competed in St. Moritz, the same number as the previous
Winter Games in 1936. Chile, Denmark, Iceland, Korea, and Lebanon
all made their Winter Olympic debut at these Games.
Japan were not invited because of their involvement in World War II.
Italy, despite being an Axis power originally, was allowed to send
athletes after their defection to the Allies in 1943. Estonia, Latvia
Lithuania had been annexed by the
Soviet Union in 1940, and would
not compete again as independent nations until 1992. Argentina
returned to the Winter Games after missing the 1932 and 1936 Games,
and Australia and
Luxembourg did not compete in 1948, even though they
had participated in 1936.
Participating National Olympic Committees
Great Britain (55)
South Korea (3)
Switzerland (70) (host)
United States (69)
Number of athletes by National Olympic Committees
1948 Winter Olympics
1948 Winter Olympics medal table
These are the top ten nations that won medals at the 1948 Winter
1948 Winter Olympics
1948 Winter Olympics medal winners
1948 Summer Olympics
Winter Olympic Games
International Olympic Committee
List of IOC country codes
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1948 Winter Olympics
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Wikimedia Commons has media related to 1948 Winter Olympics.
"St Moritz 1948". Olympic.org. International Olympic Committee.
"Results and Medalists". Olympic.org. International Olympic
Buchanon, Ian; Mallon, Bill (2006). Historical Dictionary of the
Olympic Movement. Oxford, United Kingdom: Scarecrow Press.
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cancelled due to World War II
V Olympic Winter Games (1948)
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St. Moritz-Celerina Olympic Bobrun