Seeing Skiing: Winter Olympics Pics


Robert Capa, [Crowd of spectators at the 1952 Winter Olympic Games, Norway], February 1952 (2013.77.237)

Olympics– Suspense of the ski race is reflected on faces of spectators, including one old lady who leans forward to get a better look at the downhill races. Most of the crowd of 6,000 made a 70-mile train ride from Oslo, hiked up the steep hill carrying their lunches and cameras, slipped and skidded down after race. Life, March 3, 1952, p. 25.


Robert Capa, [Spectators watching a Winter Olympics event, Norefjell, Norway], February 1952 (2010.93.1434)



Life, March 3, 1952, pp. 22-25

The Host Takes the Cake
Norway holds its first Winter Olympic Games and gets first place too.
Noway was gripped by a grave popular crisis. Athletes from 30 countries and 150,000 spectators crowded into Oslo for the first Olympic Winter Games to be held in that country. But there was no snow. In the emergency the Kings Guard shoveled what snow there was onto ski runs. Competitors fumed and Norwegians felt a deep national shame. Then the night before the start of the games the blessed snow fell…
The Americans meanwhile did surprisingly well, winning four firsts and placing second to Norway in the scoring. But Norway’s enthusiasm, rising steadily as its athletes took seven gold medals, hit such a high after Hjalmar Andersen’s third triumph that waiters and busboys at Oslo’s new Viking Hotel walked out en masse to join the celebration, leaving customers sitting there staring at empty plates and glasses. Life, March 3, 1952, p. 22

The 1952 Winter Olympics were held in Oslo, Norway. Life magazine published a few photos made by Robert Capa. The above pair of page spreads also contains photos by J. Brun, T. Skotaam, and Nat Farbman. (This issue of Life contains photos from many great photographers including: Roman Vishniac, Francis Miller, Fritz Goro, Nat Fein, Gjon Mili, Peter Stackpole, Lisa Larsen, Alfred Eisenstaedt, N.Y. Daily Mirror, N.Y. Daily News, Leonard McCombe, and Burton Glinn.) In 66 years the Olympics have grown significantly. Quick comparison of the Oslo 1952 and in PyeongChang 2018 Olympic games:

Oslo 1952:
February 14-25
30 countries
22 events
694 athletes

PyeongChang 2018:
February 9-25
92 National Olympic Committees
102 events
2,950 athletes


Robert Capa, [Coca-Cola sign at the Winter Olympics, Oslo], February 1952 (2013.92.123)

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