Olympic history: The ’92 games were Carmichael’s year
February 19, 2010
Editor's note: With the Olympic Winter Games now under way in Vancouver, British Columbia, the Steamboat Today has partnered with the Colorado Ski & Snowboard Museum on a series of articles that reflect on past Winter Olympic Games, beginning with the first winter games in 1924. This is the ninth installment in that series.
In 1986, the International Olympic Committee voted to separate the Summer and Winter games, placing them in alternating even-numbered years, starting in 1994. The 1992 Winter Olympics were the last to be staged in the same year as the Summer Olympics.
Albertville, France, was the location chosen for the 1992 Winter Olympic Games, which hosted 64 countries and 1,801 athletes. This was the first time the Winter Olympics and Winter Paralympics were held at the same site.
Competition for hosting the 1992 games included Anchorage, Alaska; Berchtesgaden, Germany; Sofia, Bulgaria; and Lillehammer, Norway. Because of the collapse of the Soviet Union, there were a number of new nations that participated, including Croatia, Slovenia and six former Soviet Republics that made up the Unified Team. Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania had their own teams. Germany competed as a unified team for the first time since 1936. Other countries new to the Winter Olympics were Algeria, Bermuda, Brazil, Honduras, Ireland and Swaziland.
Freestyle skiing moguls, short track speed skating and women's biathlon were added as medal disciplines, bringing the total number of events to 57, in seven sports. Ski jumper Toni Nieminen, of Finland, became the youngest male gold medalist in the winter games at age 16. Anneliese Coberger, of New Zealand, won the Southern Hemisphere's first Winter Olympic medal when she placed second in the women's slalom.
The U.S. brought home 11 medals, which put them in fifth place in the medal tally. Cathy Turner won gold in the women's 500-meter short track speed skate, as did Bonnie Blair in the women's 500-meter and 1,000-meter speed skate events. Kristi Yamaguchi was awarded gold for her performance in the ladies singles figure skate, while Nancy Kerrigan was given bronze, and Paul Wylie earned silver in the men's singles figure skate. Another silver medal was won by the women's 3,000-meter short track speed skate relay team, comprised of Darcie Dohnal, Amy Peterson, Cathy Turner and Nikki Ziegelmeyer.
The rest of the medals were earned in ski events. Donna Weinbrecht won the women's freestyle moguls ski race. Hilary Lindh and Diann Roffe took silver medals in the women's downhill and giant slalom contests, respectively. Nelson Carmichael won a bronze medal for the men's team in the freestyle moguls ski event.
After moving from New York to Steamboat Springs at age 11, Nelson Carmichael joined the Steamboat Springs Winter Sports Club. He first began Alpine racing, then freestyle — specifically moguls. In 1983, Carmichael made the U.S. Development Team and competed nationally, and a year later he made the U.S. Ski Team and competed on the World Cup tour for nine years. He won the overall title twice (in 1988 and 1989) and collected a dozen victories.
Carmichael won six National Championships, was a two-time Olympian and Colorado's first Olympic moguls medalist. In 1999, he founded 1080 Degrees, a ski and snowboard soft goods company and was inducted into the Colorado Ski & Snowboard Hall of Fame in 2004. Currently, Carmichael is involved with promotional efforts for Steamboat Ski Area and other companies.