The IOC originally gave the 1976 Winter Games to Denver, but in 1972 Colorado voters rejected a $5 million bond issue to finance the undertaking. Denver immediately withdrew as host and the IOC called on Innsbruck, site of the 1964 Games.
For the second straight Winter Carnival the USSR and East Germany finished 1–2 in overall medals. In 1972, Dutch speed skater Ard Schenk and Soviet cross-country skier Galina Kulakova each won three gold medals. In '76, nobody won three, but 25–year-old West German skier Rosi Mittermaier almost did—winning two golds and a silver in the women's Alpine events.
The Russian hockey team, which had won the gold medal in 1972 and then battled the NHL's Team Canada to a virtual standoff six months later, returned with most of the same players and won its fourth straight Olympic title.
In figure skating, 19–year-old Dorothy Hamill of the U.S. and John Curry of Britain won gold medals. Both were coached by Carlo Fassi, who also coached Peggy Fleming in 1968.
Also, Bill Koch became the first U.S. skier to ever win an Olympic cross-country medal when he placed second in the 30–kilometer race.