Innsbruck enjoys new generation of Olympic legacies

The Austrian city of Innsbruck holds a unique position in Olympic history, having hosted the Olympic Winter Games twice, as well as the inaugural edition of the Winter Youth Olympic Games (YOG).

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© IOC / Christian Klaue President Bach at the Super Sprint World Championship Women’s finals in Hamburg.

While the city was already steeped in Olympic traditions following the 1964 and 1976 Winter Games, the Winter YOG in 2012 helped breathe new life into Innsbruck’s numerous Olympic legacies and underlined its position as a world-class sporting destination.

The 2012 Games themselves also benefited from the city’s extensive Olympic legacies, making use of many of the venues that had been used in 1964 and 1976.

The iconic ski jumping venue, Bergisel Stadium, which hosted the Opening Ceremonies in both 1964 and 1976, was once again the stage for the welcoming of the athletes, providing a definitive link between the first Winter YOG and the Olympic Winter Games.

“The legacy of the Winter Games in 1964 and 1976 is first of all the sports venues,” explains Michael Bielowski, manager of Olympia World Innsbruck and a volunteer in 1964. “All the venues that were used are still in use, which is a real legacy for the people of Innsbruck and Tyrol.”

Other Olympic venues from 1964 and 1976, including Patscherkofel (Alpine skiing), the Olympic ice stadium (ice hockey and ice skating) and Seefeld (cross-country skiing) were also used extensively during Innsbruck 2012. Innsbruck 2012 also created their own legacies for future generations with the establishment of a Nordic centre and a jumping hill in Seefeld and a new ski-cross track and freestyle-course in Kühtai, which at over 2000m has excellent snow making facilities and has become one of Europe’s top centres for freestyle competitions and training.

The YOG also contributed to Innsbruck’s Olympic legacy through the construction of the Youth Olympic Village (YOV); constructed using passive-house technology, the YOV has now provided more than 400 affordable homes to families on low incomes.

But the Games have not only left an infrastructural legacy in Innsbruck. The success of the Winter Games in 1964 and 1976 also helped establish Innsbruck as a major tourist destination, with the city enjoying unrivalled global exposure as a result of hosting the Games – a legacy that was reinvigorated following the 2012 Winter YOG.

“The second legacy is a tourism legacy, because everywhere you go in the world, people remember Innsbruck hosting the Games,” says Bielowski. “The Youth Olympic Games in 2012 re-established that connection.”

Watch the best scenes from the Innsbruck 2012 Youth Olympic Winter Games: