LANE ONE: IOC study of Winter Games venues shows heavy construction, but excellent reuse to date!

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April Olympic Studies Center report, Over 125 Years of Olympic Venues: Post-Games Useprovided a fascinating insight into what happened to hundreds of venues used for Olympic competition, from Athens in 1896 to the PyeongChang Winter Games in 2018.

Our look at the Olympics, data showed that the majority of venues were still in use today and overwhelmingly in the 21st century. But what about the venues for the Winter Games? It’s time to take a look at these, with the number of competition venues, the percentage of existing and new (non-temporary) competition venues, and the percentage of those still in use:

● 1924 Chamonix [3]: Existing & new: 67% ~ Still in use: 100%
● 1928 St. Moritz [5]: Existing & new: 60% ~ Still in use: 33%
● 1932 Lake Placid [6]: Existing & new: 83% ~ Still in use: 100%
● 1936Garmisch [6]: Existing & new: 67% ~ Still in use: 100%

● 1948 St. Moritz [8]: Existing & new: 75% ~ Still in use: 100%
● 1952 Oslo [11]: Existing and new: 91% ~ Always in use: 90%
● 1956 Cortine [8]: Existing & new: 75% ~ Still in use: 67%
● 1960 “Palisades Tahoe” [6]: Existing & new: 57% ~ Still in use: 50%
=> (Site known as Squaw Valley at the time, but recently renamed)
● 1964 Innsbruck [9]: Existing and new: 100% ~ Always in use: 100%
● 1968 Grenoble [9]: Existing and new: 89% ~ Always in use: 78%
● 1972Sapporo [13]: Existing and new: 85% ~ Always in use: 69%
● 1976 Innsbruck [9]: Existing and new: 100% ~ Always in use: 100%
● 1980 Lake Placid [7] : Existing and new: 100% ~ Always in use: 100%
● 1984 Sarajevo [8]: Existing and new: 88% ~ Always in use: 75%
● 1988 Calgary [10]: Existing & new: 100% ~ Still in use: 70%
● 1992 Albertville [10]: Existing and new: 100% ~ Always in use: 100%
● 1994 Lillehammer [10]: Existing and new: 100% ~ Always in use: 100%
● 1998 Nagano [14]: Existing & new: 100% ~ Still in use: 79%

● 2002 Salt Lake City [10]: Existing and new: 100% ~ Always in use: 100%
● 2006 Torino [13]: Existing and new: 92% ~ Always in use: 92%
● 2010Vancouver [9]: Existing and new: 100% ~ Always in use: 100%
● 2014 Sochi [10]: Existing and new: 100% ~ Always in use: 100%
● 2018 PyeongChang [12]: Existing and new: 100% ~ Always in use: 92%

That’s 23 Winter Games and 12 have all of their existing competition venues and new construction still in use today and two at 90% or more. Three others have 75% still in use, which makes 17 out of 23 (74%) who have at least three quarters of their competition sites still active. It’s rather good.

This is a little better than for the sites of the Olympic Games; of the 28 Games from 1896 to 2016, 19 have 75% or more current use of their competition venues, or 68%.

Also noteworthy is the relatively small number of competition venues at all Winter Games. The largest number of venues was in Nagano in 1998, with 14. Even in 2010, Vancouver had only nine competition venues.

Who built the most? Here are the Winter Games venues ranked by the percentage of new venues built for their Games:

1. 90% ~ Lillehammer 1994 (9)
1. 90% ~ Sochi 2014 (9)
3. 89% ~ Grenoble 1968 (8)
3. 89% ~ Innsbruck 1976 (8)
5. 88% ~ Sarajevo 1984 (7)
6. 83% ~ Lake Placid 1932 (5)
7. 77% ~ Sapporo 1972 (10)
8. 70% ~ Calgary 1988 (7)
9. 67% ~ Chamonix 1924 (2)
9. 67% ~ Garmisch-Partenkirchen 1936 (4)
9. 67% ~Vancouver 2010 (6)
12. 60% ~ Albertville 1992 (6)
13. 57% ~ Lake Placid 1980 (4)
14. 56% ~ Innsbruck 1964 (4)
15. 50% ~ Tahoe Palisades 1960 (4)
15. 50% ~ Nagano 1998 (7)
17. 50% ~ PyeongChang 2018 (6)
18. 46% ~ Torino 2006 (6)
19. 40% ~ St. Moritz 1928 (2)
19. 40% ~ Salt Lake City 2002 (4)
21. 13% ~ Cortine 1956 (1)
22. 9% ~ Oslo 1952 (1)
23. 0% ~ St. Moritz 1948 (0)

And the champions of recycling, for the use of existing places:

1. 82% ~ Oslo 1952 (9)
2. 75% ~ St. Moritz 1948 (6)
3. 63% ~ Cortine 1956 (5)
4. 60% ~ Salt Lake City 2002 (6)
5. 50% ~ Nagano 1998 (7)
5. 50% ~ PyeongChang 2018 (6)
7. 46% ~ Torino 2006 (6)
8. 44% ~ Innsbruck 1964 (4)
9. 43% ~ Lake Placid 1980 (3)
10. 40% ~ Albertville 1992 (4)
11. 33% ~ St. Moritz 1928 (1)
11. 33% ~Vancouver 2010 (3)
13. 30% ~ Calgary 1988 (3)
14. 17% ~ Lake Placid 1932 (1)
15. 12% ~ Sarajevo 1984 (1)
16. 11% ~ Grenoble 1968 (1)
16. 11% ~ Innsbruck 1976 (1)
18. 10% ~ Lillehammer 1994 (1)
18. 10% ~ Sochi 2014 (1)
20. 8% ~ Sapporo 1972 (1)
21. 0% ~Chamonix 1924 (0)
21. 0% ~ Garmisch-Partenkirchen 1936 (0)
21. 0% ~ Tahoe Palisades 1960 (0)

It should be noted that the Salt Lake City (USA) bid team for 2030 does not propose new venues, but the reuse of existing venues from the 2002 Games, even with 36 additional events on the program for 2026!

(Some of these percentages do not match the graphs presented in the study, which were incorrect for several Games; the figures above are consistent with the written description of each Games in the study.)

What does this tell us about the Winter Games? That these events are often the springboard for the development of ski and winter sports resorts, with public after-use often planned long in advance. This was certainly the case in Nagano in 1998 and Sochi in 2014, for example, but also for existing winter sports destinations like Grenoble in 1968 and Innsbruck in 1976.

The Winter Games are not as big or as complex as the Olympics and given the conditions in which they take place, that’s a good thing. Given the excellent history of reuse of the Winter Games section documented in the IOC survey, perhaps the Summer Games would also benefit from following a sport- and venue-focused regimen.

Rich Perelman
Editor

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