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In 1952, the Games finally came to Norway, the birthplace of modern skiing. A flame was lit in the hearth of the home of Sondre Nordheim, who had done much to popularise the sport, and relayed by 94 skiers to Oslo.
Speed skater Hjalmar Andersen won three gold medals. His winning margins in the 5,000m and the 10,000m were the largest in Olympic history. In front of over 115,000 spectators, Arnfinn Bergmann won the ski jump competition on the mythical Holmenkollen hill. His compatriot Torbjorn Falkanger claimed silver.
Computers were used for the first time in figure skating, to calculate the scores awarded by the different judges for the compulsory and free programmes. This enabled an athlete’s score to be given immediately.
American figure skater Richard “Dick” Button only needed to perform a safe programme to retain his Olympic title. Instead, he chose to attempt a triple loop, even though no skater had ever performed it in competition. He landed his innovative jump perfectly, the nine judges awarded him top marks, and he claimed his second gold medal.
Athletes: 694 (109 women, 585 men)
A symbolic flame was lit in the hearth of the Morgedal House in Norway, birthplace of Sondre Norheim, the great pioneer of modern skiing, and then relayed solely by skiers to Oslo.
Olympic cross country skiing was opened up to women, with the inclusion of a 10km event.
Princess Ragnhild opened the Olympic Winter Games in place of King Hǻkon VII, who was away in England attending the funeral of His Majesty King George VI.
For the first time, the Winter Games were held in a city located on the sea. Oslo is indeed situated at the end of a fjord of the same name. Sapporo in 1972, Vancouver in 2010 and Sochi in 2014 are the three other host cities of the Olympic Winter Games that lie by the sea. Oslo is the only Winter Games host city that is also a capital.
The speed skating events were held in the Bislett Stadium, the famous athletics arena which hosts a major meeting every year and where many world records have been set. In 1952, the reserve venue for the speed skating events was the rink in Hamar, a city which went on to host speed skating in 1994 for the Lillehammer Olympic Games.
In figure skating, in order to give the results immediately, computers were used to calculate the scores awarded by the different judges for the compulsory and free programmes.
At the Opening Ceremony, the members of the British delegation wore a black armband to pay tribute to King George VI, who had died on 6 February, four days earlier.
For the first time at the Winter Games, Portugal sent a delegation. Skier Duarte Espirito-Santo competed for his country in the downhill and finished in 69th place with a time of 3.58.4 mins.
For the first time, New Zealand took part in the Olympic Winter Games. Three athletes represented their country and all competed in Alpine skiing events. The men were William Hunt and Herbert Familton, and the female athlete was Annette Johnson.
Oslo 15 February 1952. The Norwegian ski champion Lauritz Bergendal hands the Olympic Flame over to the last torch bearer.
Official opening of the Games by:
Her Royal Highness Princess Ragnhild
Lighting the Olympic Flame by:
Eigil Nansen, grandson of the famous explorer Fridtjof Nansen.
Olympic Oath by:
Torbjorn Falkanger (ski jumping).
Officials' Oath by:
The officials' oath at an Olympic Winter Games was first sworn in 1972 at Sapporo.
It was the subject of a public competition and the Games Organizing Committee had to choose from 335 designs.
A circular shape, it contained in the centre the Olympic rings with the silhouette of the new Town Hall of Oslo. On the outside border, the inscription "DE VI. OLYMPISKE VINTERLEKER OSLO 1952".
On the obverse, the Olympic rings with a superimposed torch, a composition based on the design by the Greek artist Vasos Falireas (1905-1979) and approved by the International Olympic Committee. In the background "Olympia" in Greek. Around the design, the motto "Citius Altius Fortius" and the inscription "Olympic Games" only in French.
On the reverse, designed by Knut Yran, included the inscription "VI Olympic Winter Games, Oslo 1952" (in Norwegian) complemented by the pictogramme of the Oslo Town Hall and three snowflakes.
Number of torchbearers: 94 skiers
Total distance: around 225 km
Countries crossed: Norway, departure from Morgedal, valley in the Telemark region, Oslo
The best poster was chosen through a competition. The rules stipulated that the five intertwined coloured rings had to be present and the text "VIes Jeux d'hiver - Oslo - 14 au 25 février 1952" integrated in the place that was reserved for it. Knut Yran's designs were selected. 30,000 copies were made in seven languages.
The official report, “VI Olympic Winter Games Oslo 1952” published by the Organising Committee is quite detailed. It consists of one bilingual English/Norwegian volume. It is thus the first bilingual official report of the Winter Games.