A live television broadcast came to the Winter Games for the first time, as Italian television (RAI) provided live coverage. The Games saw the arrival of a new national team at the quadrennial Olympic gathering: the Soviet Union. And did the Soviets make an impression. East and West German athletes competed together under a unified flag.
Canadian teams had dominated Olympic ice hockey virtually from the first face-off in 1924, taking five out of six gold medals in Olympic competition. That all changed in 1956 with an impressive gold medal performance by the Soviet team.
American figure skaters had a field day in Cortina. In the women's event Tenley Albright, skating on an injured foot, took the gold, and Carol Heiss the silver. In men's figure skating, it was a clean sweep for the United States, with Hayes Alan Jenkins winning the gold, Ronald Robertson the silver and David Jenkins (the younger brother of the gold-medal winner) taking the bronze.
Tony Sailer (Austria) astounded the Alpine skiing world by sweeping all three gold medals in the slalom, giant slalom and downhill. He became an instant celebrity in his Austrian homeland, and was showered with offers from both music promoters and motion picture producers after the Games.
The 1956 Games saw the last time an
American bobsled team won a medal. The
United States finished third in the two-man
event. With rare
exceptions, powerful Swiss, German and
Soviet teams would rule Olympic
bobsledding for many years to come.
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