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THE OLYMPICS UNFOLD
As the athletes of 32 nations raced through the first week of the Winter Games, they produced every element of drama and excitement that an Olympics could possibly provide. And with it all there was a background of humor that balanced perfectly with the intensity of the competition.
In the opening ceremony 1,200 athletes stood at attention and 10,000 spectators rose to cheer when an Italian skater named Guido Caroli swept into the ice stadium bearing the Olympic torch. Seconds later Caroli stumbled to immortality (see page 20) as he tripped over a microphone wire in one of the most agonizing pratfalls in sports history.
Undaunted, Caroli jumped back on his feet and skated to the podium to dip the still burning torch into the oil of the Olympic lamp. "I didn't let the torch go out," said the now famous torchbearer later. "Remember that. I didn't let it go out."
Then the Games were under way. The first gold medal, in the women's giant slalom, was won by an apple-cheeked German fra�lein, whom no one had bothered to watch in the preliminaries simply because she didn't seem to be very good. The first cross-country races were won by the most traditional of all winter-sports athletes—a Norwegian lumberjack and a Finnish forest ranger. A boisterous Italian jet pilot won the two-man bobsled, but achieved no more glory than the fourth-place finisher, the fiercely competitive Marquis de Portago, who raced his first bobsled only a year ago but was nevertheless inconsolable on failing to take home a gold medal for Spain. Asked what happened in the race, the Marquis muttered, "I loused up."
As the Games rolled ahead, however, it was the Russians who began to dominate. After five days of their first Winter Olympics, the Soviets had won four of the 10 gold medals, set three Olympic records and upset the balance of power (see page 17) which has rested with Norway, Austria and the U.S. since the Winter Games started 32 years ago. Observing the Russian phenomenon, the newspapers of the world produced some marvelously varied scoring systems, none of which meant anything but all of which added up to the fact that Russia was doing awfully well.
At week's end, with 14 events still to go, the U.S. finally began to move up when Hayes Jenkins and Tenley Albright jumped into commanding leads in figure skating. However, even with the surprises that the final days were sure to produce, it seemed unlikely that America, Norway, Austria, or any other country could match the opening performance put on by Russia, the new giant of winter sports.
UNPLACED BUT UNBOWED
Amid the pomp and glitter of the opening-day parade at the Winter Olympics, no flag-bearer walked more proudly than Baron Edward von Falz-Fein of Liechtenstein. This was a great moment, for the banner of Liechtenstein seldom moves with those of the great nations. The entire country of 13,571 souls takes up 62 square miles of Alps and pasture land on the east border of Switzerland. The army, consisting of one ancient soldier, died peacefully in bed 15 years ago, leaving the frontiers open to the dead legions of Prussia with whom Liechtenstein is still technically at war.
But here at the Olympics, Liechtenstein was honorably represented by a brave little band of skiers and—thanks to an 11th-hour inspiration by Von Falz-Fein—by a bobsled team as well.