Olympic History >> Innsbruck 1964 >> Inside the Games
Innsbruck 1964 - Inside the Games
Let it snow, let it snow, let it snow
Instead of the sight of pristine, snow covered peaks sparkling under a bright winter sun, Austria approached the 1964 Winter Games in the grip once again of the dreaded warm wind from the south, the Fohn, which had left the lower slopes damp and brown.
There was clearly not enough snow on the slopes to allow the alpine skiing and cross country events to go ahead.
With the promise of up to a million Europeans converging on the Games from all parts, a very cool head was required to manage the potentially catastrophic situation.
There was nothing for it but to call in the army, which swiftly assembled a 2000-strong task force ready to begin a massive snow transportation service.
Part of the taskforce had to travel 50km to the Brenner Pass to find what they were looking for: 20,000 cubic metres of the white stuff which they then laid down like a carpet on the Patscherkofel and Lizum ski runs and the cross-country course under the eagle eye of ski slope specialist Wolfgang Friedel.
The remaining soldiers set about cutting massive ice blocks from neighbouring mountains before sliding them into place on the bobsleigh and luge runs.
But no sooner had the mountains been moved than the weather intervened again, this time in the form of rain, and suddenly there were just 12 days left before the first Olympic events were due to get underway.
The army swung into action again, moving tons more snow up the slopes in huge wicker baskets in a drive to beat the elements.
Their efforts were rewarded when on January 29 Austrian president Alfred Scharf declared the 9th Winter Games open.
Copyright 2008 Agence France-Presse.