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Kenadian

Calgary 1988 - 25 Years Ago...

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While today marks the third year anniversary of the opening of the Vancouver Games, we're also just a day away from another Canadian Winter Olympic landmark anniversary. Wednesday, February 13 marks the 25th Anniversary of the opening of the XV Olympic Winter Games in Calgary.

Global TV Coverage of Calgary '88 - 25th Anniversary

These Games gave us The Battle of the Brians and the Battle of the Carmens. Eddie the Eagle and the Jamaican bobsled team. Alberto Tomba's triumph and Dan Jansen's tragedy.

These were the last Winter Games of the Soviet Union and the DDR, the first in Canada, and the first to be extended to two full weeks. Calgary was the largest cities to host the Winter Games (at the time, only Sapporo before it was bigger) and left a stellar legacy of competition and training facilities. While Canada once again (following suit with the country's performance at the 1976 Summer Games in Montreal) failed to win a gold medal at home grown games, the legacy of Calgary paved the way to many of the 14 gold medals landed in Vancouver.

They were at times a little bit hokey and very much 1980s and Western in flavour, but they were exciting, well thought out Games that gave us a lot of memories and star performances.

Share your thoughts and memories of Calgary '88.

88-cauldron.jpg

Edited by Kenadian

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That picture is my favorite, I've never seem banners like that before or after. Pretty cool for such old games. it looks like they are hoisted or something.

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That picture is my favorite, I've never seem banners like that before or after. Pretty cool for such old games. it looks like they are hoisted or something.

I have Calgary 1988 in good memories - it were the third Olympic Games, which I followed from the start to the end very closely...

The "banners" were part of the Opening Ceremony - they were not "hoisted", but formed the half of a tipi...

Calgary Herald: a pic of the stadium during the opening ceremony - you can see the two tent poles in the background, where the "banners" formed later the tipi

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http://www.calgarysun.com/2013/01/23/calgary-olympic-cauldron-set-to-re-ignited-in-celebration-of-25th-anniversary-of-winter-games

They found the key in the bottom of the cauldron that was the lighting key, which had somehow gone missing,” she said.

“It was originally used in ‘88 but we don’t know how many times it was used or how it ended up in the bottom of the cauldron.

“It was all charred and ugly so they buffed it up.”

1297367545338_ORIGINAL.jpg?quality=80



Oh I see the banners rise with the Cauldron, very simple and elegant.

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88-cauldron.jpg

Lake Placid 80's producer of Ceremonies, who was hired as the Flags' expert/consultant for Calgary, told me that the '88 production team was so nervous about those teepee strips and feared the entire structure holding the rising strips might topple. The winds were blowing like crazy (see the national flags on their individual flagpoles) at that time and apparently they hadn't tested the worthiness of the entire tall structure in such conditions. So, like Sydney, they were holding their breath that the scaffolding would hold and that the winds would somehow abate. Luckily, nothing happened.

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Lake Placid 80's producer of Ceremonies, who was hired as the Flags' expert/consultant for Calgary, told me that the '88 production team was so nervous about those teepee strips and feared the entire structure holding the rising strips might topple. The winds were blowing like crazy (see the national flags on their individual flagpoles) at that time and apparently they hadn't tested the worthiness of the entire tall structure in such conditions. So, like Sydney, they were holding their breath that the scaffolding would hold and that the winds would somehow abate. Luckily, nothing happened.

Didn't they retract the banners again after a short while, as a security precaution due to the strong winds? I believe I read that somewhere. It can also be seen in the ABC footage of the opening ceremony:

The hoisting of the banners shortly after the cauldron lighting:

The banners are at a significantly lower level during the performance of "O Canada" about 15 minutes later. You can also see the banners shaking heavily in the wind:

All banners but two are completely retracted at the end of the ceremony, when David Foster's theme song "Winter Games" (aka "Can't You Feel It") is performed:

25 years on, also compared to the next Olympic opening ceremony on Canadian soil in Vancouver in 2010, the Calgary opening ceremony feels so dated today - but also so nostalgic. It was that somewhat careless "Heck, this genre is still pretty new for an Olympic opening ceremony, so let's simply have a very colourful and sometimes even cheesy welcome party for the athletes of the world" spirit of the 1980s. Sarajevo put hardly any effort into its handover segment and simply had the same cheesy dancers with the same cheesy plastic uniforms perform the same cheesy dances as in the 1984 opening ceremony (see

). Just imagine the controversy that would have caused if our forum had existed already back then. ;)

And by the way: The big teepee structure used at Calgary's McMahon Stadium at the 1988 Winter Games was transferred to Medicine Hat, Alberta later where it is still standing as of today:

(Sorry that the video links aren't displayed in a "clickable" form. It's the same old flaw that one can only post two YouTube videos per post here.)

Information on the teepee structure: http://calgary.foundlocally.com/travel/Near-MedicineHatAttractions.htm

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I have fond memories of Calgary. They were the first Games I really followed closely. I remembers warm homey feel to those Games. And of course all the figure skating drama... Special congrats to Liz Manley.

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Didn't they retract the banners again after a short while, as a security precaution due to the strong winds? I believe I read that somewhere. It can also be seen in the ABC footage of the opening ceremony:

The hoisting of the banners shortly after the cauldron lighting:

The banners are at a significantly lower level during the performance of "O Canada" about 15 minutes later. You can also see the banners shaking heavily in the wind:

All banners but two are completely retracted at the end of the ceremony, when David Foster's theme song "Winter Games" (aka "Can't You Feel It") is performed:

Exactly, Fab. That's why they started retracting them very shortly after they were fully hoisted and even before the whole show was over...because the whole structure was shaking like crazy; and they feared the whole thing could topple over. So better to play it safe rather than be sorry. Remember, at the start of the OC, 2 or 3 hot air balloons were supposed to open the show. But that was cancelled at the last minute due to the unusually strong (chinook?) winds sweeping down.

Edited by baron-pierreIV

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photo036.jpg

http://glenpearson.ca/2011/02/16/the-two-welcomes/

-snipit-

"Last week I heard repeatedly that the Vancouver Olympics were perhaps the greatest spectacle we ever had. Politicians and media types trumpeted the images, reminding every one of how great Canada is. Some said it was the birth of a new generation, no longer so humble but outwardly proud and aggressive. That could be true. But not too many years before the Vancouver spectacle there was another great event that was in its own way just as “Canadian,” only humbler, remarkably efficient, and suffused with the spirit of volunteerism and joy. They were the Calgary Olympics in 1988 and we seem to have forgotten them already."

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"Last week I heard repeatedly that the Vancouver Olympics were perhaps the greatest spectacle we ever had. Politicians and media types trumpeted the images, reminding every one of how great Canada is. Some said it was the birth of a new generation, no longer so humble but outwardly proud and aggressive. That could be true. But not too many years before the Vancouver spectacle there was another great event that was in its own way just as “Canadian,” only humbler, remarkably efficient, and suffused with the spirit of volunteerism and joy. They were the Calgary Olympics in 1988 and we seem to have forgotten them already."

It's not much of a miracle for me that Calgary seems to be quite forgotten in Canada. First, it's only a natural reaction that you remember the latest big event more strongly than the previous one, especially when quite many of the Vancouver 2010 "witnesses" were still children or not even alive in 1988. And secondly, if I was Canadian, I'd probably remember the Vancouver Games more fondly, too - for a very simple reason: In Vancouver, Team Canada had 14 gold medals (including the extremely important two ice hockey golds) - in Calgary, they had none.

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I don't think that Calgary 1988 is forgotten, but as said, it is just that Vancouver 2010 is more recent and for Canadians, it brought a lot of victories and we could share and experience those Games through social media. For Canadians, the one big victory we had in Calgary was Elizabeth Manley's surprise silver medal in women's figure skating. But without Calgary's excellent legacy, there wouldn't have been a Vancouver. Calgary eased the woes of Montreal and allowed us to invest more heavily in winter sport. Canada now had Olympic calibre ski jumps, sliding tracks, cross country ski trails, an indoor skating oval, and a greater passion for the Winter Olympics. Before 1988, Canada's winter interests was mostly on the skating rink (ice hockey or figure skating) with the odd speed skater or downhiller in there for good measure. After 1988, the roster was wide open, evidenced by 14 gold medals in Vancouver.

And I'd also say that the Calgary Olympics also captured the world's interest in winter sport. Do you think Jamaicans paid much attention to Innsbruck or Grenoble? And with big hitters like the Two Brians, Katarina, and others, with movies like The Cutting Edge and Cool Runnings based off them, they had an impact for years after...even to today.

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On the CBC Calgary page there is a video of the festivities that went on at the Olympic Oval earlier today. Some pics were posted earlier and I noticed Hidy and Howdy made a special appearance. And here I thought mascots got stuffed and mounted following the games, never to be seen "alive" again as someone mentioned on this board. Here's the link for CBC Calgary:

http://www.cbc.ca/calgary/

Too bad this didn't line-up with Family Day on Monday or I could've gone, but was stuck at work today.

I had lots of fond memories of these games. I was 9. I naver thought back then that I would end-up living in Calgary or end-up working at Olympic Park (which I'm not now).

Another event that took place two weekends ago related to these games was the 20th anniversary of Cool Runnings. The Plaza theater whcih is just 5 minutes from my place held a special screening with a Q&A session with three of the actors including Doug E. Doug who played Sanka. It bugs me that I missed this. Could've gotten my DVD signed by them.

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But without Calgary's excellent legacy, there wouldn't have been a Vancouver. Calgary eased the woes of Montreal and allowed us to invest more heavily in winter sport. Canada now had Olympic calibre ski jumps, sliding tracks, cross country ski trails, an indoor skating oval, and a greater passion for the Winter Olympics. Before 1988, Canada's winter interests was mostly on the skating rink (ice hockey or figure skating) with the odd speed skater or downhiller in there for good measure. After 1988, the roster was wide open, evidenced by 14 gold medals in Vancouver.

Good point. It's easy to forget we weren't always a winter power, and not even that long ago. Surprising considering how winter has always been a big part of Canada's identity.

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That has a lot to do with the inclusion of more winter sports.

I was born in '88, I was 16 days old when Calgary opened. I remember in elementary school there was this big book about Calgary 1988 and I remember reading bits and pieces of it for 5 years. Those games always capture my imagination and their legacy is what any Olympics should aim for.

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True, the roster of sports for the Winter Games grew. Calgary was somewhat of a catalyst in that growth, though. Not much changed on the winter program between Innsbruck 1964 and Sarajevo 1984. But starting with Calgary, the Games were extended from 13 to 16 days with a half dozen or so events added each time after that. In the 22 years between Calgary 1988 and Vancouver 2010, the number of events and sports on the winter program practically doubled. Almost the same for the number of delegations and participants. Even Team Canada almost doubled in size between 1988 and 2010. And of course, the size of host cities, for the most part, got larger - no more Cortina or Lake Placid types - as well as the significance of the Winter Games to the host country - as witnessed by what Russia and Korea are planning.

But Canada's five medals in Calgary was the country's second best medal haul in the first 15 Winter Olympics. The seven won in 1932 at Lake Placid was the previous record. In the six Winter Games after Calgary, seven would be the country's smallest haul (in Albertville in 1992). So Canada's Winter Olympic medals spurt came as a result of the growing size of the Winter Games, the legacy of Calgary, the build up to Vancouver and a change in attitude and interest toward winter sport that isn't so focused on the ice hockey medal. Still important to us, but not our only hope for a medal (and for much of the 1970s and 1980s, not much of a hope there, either).

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I don't think that Calgary 1988 is forgotten, but as said, it is just that Vancouver 2010 is more recent and for Canadians, it brought a lot of victories and we could share and experience those Games through social media. For Canadians, the one big victory we had in Calgary was Elizabeth Manley's surprise silver medal in women's figure skating. But without Calgary's excellent legacy, there wouldn't have been a Vancouver. Calgary eased the woes of Montreal and allowed us to invest more heavily in winter sport. Canada now had Olympic calibre ski jumps, sliding tracks, cross country ski trails, an indoor skating oval, and a greater passion for the Winter Olympics. Before 1988, Canada's winter interests was mostly on the skating rink (ice hockey or figure skating) with the odd speed skater or downhiller in there for good measure. After 1988, the roster was wide open, evidenced by 14 gold medals in Vancouver.

And I'd also say that the Calgary Olympics also captured the world's interest in winter sport. Do you think Jamaicans paid much attention to Innsbruck or Grenoble? And with big hitters like the Two Brians, Katarina, and others, with movies like The Cutting Edge and Cool Runnings based off them, they had an impact for years after...even to today.

I remember Elizabeth Manley quite well - her performance was so joyful

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Ah, things were so much simpler then. ABC had 94 hours of coverage and I watched 88 of them, can't do that anymore but I can't complain given the width and breadth of the coverage nowadays.

Every Games has a special character and unique moments that stick with me for years and decades thereafter. When I think of Calgary I think of the weather, Eddie the Eagle, the debut of the Jamaican bobsledders, the first use of the organ music at the hockey games, the look of the Games with all those globes and circles, Katerina vs Debby, Brian vs Brian, Midori Ito's irrespressibility, Roberto Hernandez getting lost on the cross-country course, Albertville's original chamois mascot nearly being decapitated during its unveiling and Howdy and Hidy, the most adoreable mascots to date. Can't You Feel It. A quarter century later, I still most certainly can. Great times, great memories.

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How can people forget the perfection of the young Ekaterina Gordeeva and her then beau, Sergei Grinkov. I thought Ekaterina was the Girl from over the Rainbow!!

*sigh*

I have the strange feeling that figure skating was more interesting in the eighties/nineties than today...

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Ah, things were so much simpler then. ABC had 94 hours of coverage and I watched 88 of them, can't do that anymore but I can't complain given the width and breadth of the coverage nowadays.

Every Games has a special character and unique moments that stick with me for years and decades thereafter. When I think of Calgary I think of the weather, Eddie the Eagle, the debut of the Jamaican bobsledders, the first use of the organ music at the hockey games, the look of the Games with all those globes and circles, Katerina vs Debby, Brian vs Brian, Midori Ito's irrespressibility, Roberto Hernandez getting lost on the cross-country course, Albertville's original chamois mascot nearly being decapitated during its unveiling and Howdy and Hidy, the most adoreable mascots to date. Can't You Feel It. A quarter century later, I still most certainly can. Great times, great memories.

I remember putting my "high tech" VCR through its paces. I watched every single minute of ABC's coverage, most of it live. Some of the things that stand out for me are are Dan Jansen skating with a heavy heart and falling twice, Bonnie Blair squeaking out a win by .02 in the 500, Zurbriggen vs. Mueller in the men's downhill, the US hockey team that could score at will but couldn't play a lick of defense, Brian vs, Brian and one of the worst post-performance interviews ever by David Santee, the warm weather the final weekend (bobsled fans sunbathing with their shirts off), and of course, Katerina Witt!!!

Of course, that was during the times of holding the Winter and Summer Olympics the same year, so the winter games were typically overshadowed back then. Staggering the games was one of the IOC's better ideas. Hmmm, IOC and good idea-- that's something I don't seem to type much these days.

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*sigh*

I have the strange feeling that figure skating was more interesting in the eighties/nineties than today...

I think you're right.

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