An interesting exhibition has just started in the Olympic Museum’s philately zone. It celebrates the 50th anniversary of the VII Olympic Winter Games in Cortina d’Ampezzo. For the first time, postal administrations played a major role in commemorating the Games, by publishing stamps. The exhibition shows philatelic documents and special date-stamping related to each of the sports events which took place between 26 January and 5 February that year.
On 26 January 1956, 821 athletes from 32 nations were present at the Opening Ceremony. Among them, for the first time in a Winter Games, were athletes from the Soviet Union. The Games took place seamlessly in an enchanting location, with a warm atmosphere. A memorable feat was that of Austria’s Toni Sailer, who won three gold medals in downhill, slalom and giant slalom.
Madeleine Berthod on a postage stamp!
But the Swiss were not to be left out: Robert Alt became Olympic four-man bob champion; Renée Colliard won gold in the slalom, and Madeleine Berthod in the downhill on the day of her 25th birthday. Interestingly, Berthod was the only athlete to feature on a postage stamp, as part of a series issued by the Dominican Republic in 1958 paying tribute to the Olympic champions from Cortina d’Ampezzo and Melbourne.
A little history…
Cortina d’Ampezzo was chosen to organise the V Olympic Winter Games in 1944. The Second World War put paid to this project. After the conflict, this resort in the Dolomites put forward its candidature again, but was pipped to the post by St Moritz in 1948 and Oslo in 1952. Cortina would have to wait 12 long years before holding its Games!