Albertville 1992: 30 years of Olympic heritage in the biggest French ski resorts

Posted 02-07-22

Proposed by International Olympic Committee

Albertville 1992 / ©IOC ​

News from the International Olympic Committee

As the Beijing 2022 Olympic Winter Games approach, we look at the long-term legacy created by past Olympic Winter Games which celebrate significant anniversaries this year.

Albertville was the first host city to host the Olympic Winter Games followed by the Paralympic Winter Games, the start of a tradition that has continued ever since. With its spectacular Opening and Closing Ceremonies, Albertville 1992 set a benchmark for future host cities. He also helped make Savoie Mont Blanc one of the world’s leading winter sports destinations.

Albertville Olympic Games
Albertville 1992 / ©IOC ​

As the 30th anniversary of the Games approached, many festive events were planned throughout the region, in Albertville, Courchevel, Méribel, La Léchère-les-Bains/Valmorel, Les Saisies and Tignes.

Of the 13 venues used for the Games, 12 are still in use today, while transport improvements accelerated by the event have helped grow the local ski industry and improved access to the region. Since the Games, resorts have also improved their infrastructure and facilities to meet growing demand and have taken steps to mitigate environmental impacts.

The best skiing France has to offer

Bus Albertville
Albertville 1992 / ©IOC ​

With more than 110 ski resorts and one of the largest networks of ski slopes in the world, the Savoie Mont Blanc region is France’s leading winter sports destination. Covering two-thirds of the French Alps, the region welcomes millions of visitors each year.

The global exposure provided by Albertville 1992 boosted the region’s tourism industry, and hosting the Winter Olympics also accelerated the pace of improvements to its transport infrastructure. Home to the world’s busiest ski resort, La Plagne, and two other world top 10 resorts – Les Arcs and Val Thorens – Savoie Mont Blanc successfully markets itself as a brand to skiers and tourists from Europe and Moreover. Part of its appeal lies in the creation of a genuine ski culture in the territory, and in the range of activities and leisure on offer. Thus, alpine skiing is offered in 98 resorts in Savoie Mont Blanc and Nordic skiing in 78. The resorts that hosted the Olympic Games have made extensive and sustainable use of their facilities. Several of them have hosted major international competitions since 1992.

Since hosting the Games, resorts in the region have also become increasingly sensitive to environmental issues. Their populations increase by 30% and more in high season, straining existing resources and requiring the construction of facilities and accommodations to meet demand. To ensure their sustainability and their coexistence with the fragile mountain ecosystems, the resorts have implemented a series of measures in recent years. These include stricter planning rules, low-impact building methods, a transition to low-carbon technologies and processes, and the protection of biodiversity. Awareness has also increased among visitors, who are reminded not to leave any trace of their stay in the mountains.

Places still in use

Albertville ice rink
Albertville 1992 / ©IOC

Thirteen venues were used for the Albertville 1992 Olympic Winter Games for competitive and demonstration sports. Twelve are still in use today, for recreational and high-level ice and snow sports.

Many of them have become multi-purpose facilities, including the Halle Olympique. One of several venues located in the Henri Dujol Olympic Park in Albertville, it was built for competitions in figure skating and short track speed skating. It has since hosted Davis Cup matches as well as business, arts and cultural events.

The courses used for the women’s alpine skiing events in Méribel remain open to competition and leisure skiers. The resort’s Olympic Park, whose ice rink hosted the men’s ice hockey competition, now houses a swimming pool, spa, gym and meeting rooms.

Venue for freestyle skiing demonstration events at the Games, Tignes has become a benchmark for the discipline. For its part, the bobsleigh track in the resort of La Plagne attracts visitors all year round and contributes to the attractiveness of the resort.

Renovated regional transport and urban infrastructure

The organization of the Olympic Games accelerated the extension and modernization of regional transport links. A series of highways and expressways have been built between Albertville and surrounding towns and resorts, doubling the capacity of the road network and reducing travel times and traffic congestion.

The local rail network has also been modernized. In addition to the construction of a high-speed line (TGV) serving the region, stations have been redeveloped and new bus stations have been built to connect to the rail network. Improvements have also been made to local airports and air transport facilities.

These developments have allowed the area to market itself better and made it more accessible to tourists. The TGV link has increased its appeal, particularly for Parisians, who can reach Albertville by train in less than five hours.

A turning point for the opening and closing ceremonies

Albertville Opening Ceremony
Albertville 1992 / ©IOC ​

The Albertville 1992 Olympic Winter Games marked a spectacular turning point in the organization of the opening and closing ceremonies of the Games.

These opening and closing ceremonies of the Games were innovative thanks to two Philippes: the choreographer Philippe Decouflé and the costume designer Philippe Guillotel. Using all their flair and imagination, they turned these events into veritable spectacles, filling the ephemeral space of the Théâtre des Cérémonies with bird-men, snowball women, dancers in winged heels and insects on stilts. Also present were thousands of characters disguised as giant sousaphones and dressed in costumes in the red and white colors of the Savoyard flag.

One of the highlights of the opening ceremony was the aerial ballet, in which dozens of acrobats suspended from elastic ropes delighted the 35,000 spectators and spectators with their magical aerial acts. Drawing inspiration from the folk dances of Savoy as well as music, sport and the circus, Decouflé brought a spirit of invention and wonder to both occasions. In doing so, he took the Opening and Closing Ceremonies to new levels of visual and choreographed excellence, setting a trend that was followed at Athens 2004, Beijing 2008, London 2012 and subsequent Games ceremonies.

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International Olympic Committee

International Olympic Committee

The International Olympic Committee (IOC) is an independent, not-for-profit international organization committed to building a better world through sport. It redistributes over 90% of its revenue to the wider sports movement, which means that every day the equivalent of US$3.4 million is donated to help athletes and sports organizations at all levels in the world.

As the leader of the Olympic Movement, the IOC acts as a catalyst for collaboration between all parts of the Olympic family, from National Olympic Committees (NOCs), International Sports Federations (IFs), athletes and Olympic Committees. Olympic Organizing Committee (OCOG) to Worldwide Olympic Partners, Broadcast Partners and United Nations (UN) Agencies, and guides success across a wide range of programs and projects. On this basis, it ensures the regular celebration of the Olympic Games, supports all member organizations affiliated with the Olympic Movement and strongly encourages, by appropriate means, the promotion of the Olympic values.

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