Fifty years ago this week the 1968 Winter Olympics began in Grenoble, France, where 37 countries competed, including West Germany and East Germany, who were permitted to enter as separate countries that year for the first time.
The official film is unbeatable for a visual sense of the games. The bobsled events were held in darkness, as shown in the video, because the track was melting during daylight hours. Jean-Claude Killy won gold in all three alpine skiing events.
In hindsight, the most significant legacy of that year may be the introduction of doping tests and sex tests for women’s events, though Norwegians could be forgiven for drawing attention to their performance: 14 medals, six of them gold, besting all other countries including the Soviet Union, which came in second.
Then again, maybe the figure skating competition had the most lasting legacy, at least here in the United States.
The U.S. won just one gold medal, in figure skating, and it could hardly have been more poignant––while heading to the 1961 World Championships, the entire U.S. figure skating team had been killed in a plane crash. Afterward, a memorial fund was set up to help rebuild the program. One beneficiary was a 12-year-old Peggy Fleming, whose coach had died in the plane crash.