Fifty years ago on January 26 1956, the town of Cortina d’Ampezzo
in the Dolomite Mountains of Northern Italy played host to the
7th modern Winter Olympic Games - the Cortina Olympics. The 50th
anniversary of the Games coincides with their return to Italy,
with Torino staging the 2006 Winter Olympics from February 10
- 26th, 2006.
As one of the most exclusive and beautiful Alpine resort destinations,
Cortina was a natural choice to showcase its magnificent vistas
in the limelight of the Olympic Games, as it was widely known
for its luxury hotels and shopping, as well as incredible skiing.
Cortina will celebrate its triumphal Games with a host of special
events and ceremonies, beginning with the Olympic flame itself.
After having left Rome on December 9, 2005 the Olympic torch
will have traversed all the regions of Italy, covering over 11,000
Km, before passing through Cortina on January 26, 2006 in honour
of its historic anniversary.
torch will visit the sites of the ’56 Cortina Olympics,
before arriving at the Stadio del Ghiaccio, where in the presence
of dignitaries and Olympic Champions both past and present, a
grand ceremony will pay tribute to Cortina’s Olympic success.
There will be a recreation of the original 1956 Olympic cauldron
and tripod which will be lit by the Olympic torch. The evening
will include a dazzling show on ice and a spectacular fireworks
A Giant Slalom race for Olympic Champions is planned, as is an
Olympic Classic Grand Gala, titled ‘Cortina 1956 –
The Cortina Olympics will be showcased throughout the month of
January 2006 as the local Cinema Eden theatre will feature a different
sports related film each night, while the main roadway, the Corso
Italia, will employ four massive video screens that will continually
project pictures and images from the ’56 Cortina Olympics.
A vintage car pageant is scheduled, with 15 of the most beautiful
Classic cars from the 1950’s to be seen cruising through
the streets of Cortina.
Special Cortina Olympic awards will be presented to celebrated
Winter Olympic Champions at a sumptuous Olympic week gala dinner,
which will honour their exploits.
The old municipal building on the Corso Italia will host an exhibition
of memorabilia of the Cortina Olympic Games that will include
images, objects and photographs that capture the essence of that
magical time in Italian sporting history.
The Cortina Olympics saw a number of historic firsts.
The first ever woman to read the Athletes’ Oath, Giuliana
Minuzzo of Italy and for the first time Italian television (RAI)
covered the Cortina Olympics live. It was also the first appearance
by representatives of the Soviet Union, whose impact was immediate;
the Russians won 7 of the 24 events, including victories in Ice
Hockey and Speed Skating.
Both East and West German athletes competed together under a
unified flag, which they would continue to do until the Munich
Games in 1972, in which East and West German athletes competed
The Cortina Olympics were originally scheduled to take place
in 1944 but World War 2 made that impossible. 12 years later,
Cortina was finally ready for the world.
The tributes and ceremonies honouring the Torino Olympics are
sure to evoke the thrilling atmosphere of that historic time.