Death and unseasonably mild weather hung over the ninth Winter Games in the Tyrolean Alps.
Two athletes, 50–year-old British luger Kazimierz Kay-Skyszpeski and 19–year-old Australian downhill skier Ross Milne, were killed taking practice runs less than a week before the Games began. And three years before, on Feb. 15, 1961, a plane crash in Belgium had killed 18 members of the U.S. figure skating team—including America's top female skater, 16–year-old Laurence Owen.
Springlike temperatures plagued Innsbruck both before and during the Games, forcing the Austrian military to carry in over 50,000 cubic meters of snow from higher elevations.
The USSR won 11 gold medals—a combined seven by speed skater Lydia Skoblikova (4) and cross-country skier Claudia Boyarskikh (3). Other stars included the skiing Goitschel sisters, Christine and Marielle, of France; and cross-country skiers Eero Mäntyranta of Finland and 34–year-old Sixten Jernberg of Sweden.
The lone U.S. gold medal was won by 23–year-old barber Terry McDermott in speed skating.
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