The Winter Games, which hosted the Jamaican bobsleigh team and artificial snow first
This Day In Weather History is a daily podcast by The Weather Network’s Chris Mei featuring stories about people, communities and events and how the weather has affected them.
The 1988 Winter Games were held in Calgary, Alta, from February 13 to 28. It was Canada’s first time hosting the Winter Games. 57 countries took part in 46 events. The games are memorable for a number of reasons, including warmer than welcome weather.
Although Calgary was new to hosting international gaming events, it is very familiar with hosting Chinook winds.
Chinooks are warm and dry winds that can cause dramatic temperature swings for a few hours. And that’s exactly what they did during the games.
Temperatures varied overnight from -30°C to 12°C. Temperatures even rose to 17°C, which didn’t bode well for snow-dependent outdoor winter sports.
And as if the melting snow wasn’t enough of a weather problem, there were extreme winds. Wind speeds of up to 120 km/h were measured.
These challenging weather conditions caused many events to be delayed, 33 to be precise. Ski jumping competitions were significantly delayed as they struggled with both lack of snow and strong winds.
Not much could be done against the wind, but for the first time in Winter Games history, some events were held on artificial snow.
The Olympic Saddle Dome. Courtesy JamesTeterenko/Wikipedia/CC BY 2.5
Referring to the weather during the closing ceremony, Frank King, whose official title was ‘President of the Olympic Organizing Committee’, said we ‘come together and share our heartfelt way of life’, adding: ‘It was much warmer than we expected .”
Although the weather was memorably warm, the most famous aspect of the games is probably the Jamaican bobsled team that inspired the film Cool runs. The team debuted in Calgary in 1988.
Prince Albert II of Monaco also competed in bobsleigh events. He became ruler of Monaco when his father died in 2005.
The prince refused any preferential treatment during the games and chose to remain in the Athletes’ Village.
Altogether unforgettable winter games.
To hear more stories about the 1988 Winter Games, listen to tonight’s episode of This Day In Weather History.
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