Friday, April 22, 2011

Snow Sculptures at the 1960 VIII Olympic Winter Games

04.22.11 - The use of snow sculptures at the VIII Olympic Winter Games at Squaw Valley marked a new milestone in Pageantry history for this international event.

An impressive array of thirty 16-foot snow statues lined the Avenue of the Athletes at Squaw Valley, as well as other key points in the Olympic Village and staging area.

These huge sculptures created tremendous interest among the thousands who thronged the valley during the Games.

Wide-spread favorable comment was generated by the sculptures, which personified the various sports participants in the Olympic Winter events.

Perhaps merely by coincidence, the men outnumbered the ladies 21 - 9 among the sculptures.

Of the nine female snow statues, four were skiers, three figure skaters, and two speed skaters. Among the gents, there were nine skiers, seven hockey players, three speed skaters, and two figure skaters.

Months of careful planning and detailed work was required in the creation of these statues.

The paper work was carried out under the supervision of Decor Director John Hench at Walt Disney studios, with the subsequent construction being executed by Floats Inc., of Pasadena.

Use of the statues was first suggested by Walt Disney shortly after he was named Pageantry Committee chairman.

As a result, Hench visited the Dartmouth Winter carnival in February 1959, to investigate the technique used there in assembling their snow sculptures, which range as high as 40-feet.

The Disney art director also visited the winter carnival at Quebec, in Eastern Canada, to garner additional data for his long-term Olympic project.

Structurally, every Squaw Valley statue consisted of a metal frame base some seven feet high. A logpole in the center of the base was driven into the ground to insure stability. An intricate weaving of wire mesh and straps put "body" into the base.

The snow figures themselves, averaging eight feet in height, were added to the bases shortly before their shipment to the Games.

In addition to the 16-foot statues, Hench designed two massive 24-foot statues of a male and a female athlete, which were placed alongside the imposing Tower of Nations at the ceremonial staging area.

An eye-catching attraction in itself, the huge ceremonial Tower of Nations measured 79 feet high and 20 feet wide. It was here, of course, that the Opening, Victory and Closing ceremonies were staged during the Games.

Aluminum crests of all competing nations were suspended in the grid of the Tower of Nations frame, each five feet wide and six feet high. The familiar Olympic rings, set above the main frame, denoted the five major continents, linked to symbolize international friendship.

This file photo from Feb. 1, 1960 shows a ski jumper during the 1960

Thirty gleaming aluminum flagpoles were used around the Tower of Nations area for the flags of the competing nations.

As with the snow sculptures, these were donated by civic-minded companies and individuals, some of them from overseas.

With the Games over, the snow sculptures and flagpoles were being transported to their respective sponsor cities, companies or individuals.

From The Pageantry Story, February 1960 (a souvenir brochure created by the Walt Disney Co. for the 1960 Winter Olympics).


  1. snow sculpture can really go far and I am happy to know that it can be used now for a lot of purpose.

  2. Have a Happy New Year and a Prosperous 2012 ahead.


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