The opening ceremony of an Olympic games is one of the greatest spectacles in sports. Thousands of athletes from around the world stroll into a crowded venue, flags wave and flashes pop. For the next two-plus weeks, a single town or city stands at the heart of the sporting world. The fame comes at a high price — host countries now spend tens of billions of dollars building expansive new arenas and facilities for the games. And then, just like that, the games are over. In some cases these Olympic venues are abandoned or even demolished, but as you would expect with such expensive facilities, many find a second life hosting other events. We went digging through the archives of Winter Olympics past to find some interesting venues that are still standing, and in some cases still hosting world-class athletes.
10. Sarajevo, Bosnia-Herzegovina (1984 Olympics)
This city in the former country once known as Yugoslavia is on the rebound today, almost 20 years after the Bosnian War ended. Many of the former sites from those 1984 Winter Games suffered damage during that conflict; the bobsleigh and luge track (pictured) served as an artillery site for the Bosnian Serbs. Almost 100,000 people lost their lives in that four-year conflict. Even as the city continues rebuilding, the old Olympic venues have been abandoned to the elements, and some are frequent targets for vandals. Here’s a collection of photos of those abandoned facilities compiled by Business Insider. (Photo: Julian Nitzsche)
9. Sapporo, Japan (1972 Olympics)
Olympic officials originally chose Sapporo to host the 1940 Winter Olympics, but World War II led those games to be canceled. Sapporo got a second chance — albeit a generation later — and the Makomanai Indoor Stadium shown here was built to host the 1972 Winter Games. The venue hosted skating, some ice hockey competition and the closing ceremonies of those games. Renamed the Makomanai Sekisui Heim Ice Arena in 2007, it still holds ice-skating events as well as concerts and conventions.
8. Chamonix, France (1924 Olympics)
This ski resort in the Alps of Southeastern France hosted the first Winter Olympic games in 1924. (Photo: Tristam Sparks)
7. Cortina d’Ampezzo, Italy (1956 Olympics)
This Italian resort town in the southern Alps originally planned to host the 1944 Winter Olympics, but before the games were canceled due to war. This photo shows the site of the Nordic Ski Jumping competitions from the 1956 games held in Cortina d’Ampezzo. (Photo: Globetrotter 51)
6. Lake Placid, New York (1932, 1980 Olympics)
Perhaps you’ve been skiing a few times, and you watch a skier make a jump in the Olympics and think, “I could probably do that!” Seeing those skiing events on TV provides no sense of scale as to the mind-boggling height of those jumps. Here’s a look at the 90-meter (right) and 120-meter jumps from the 1980 Winter Games in Lake Placid. Skiers still use those jumps to train year-round at these facilities. (Photo: Dan Carmichael)
5. St. Moritz, Switzerland (1928, 1948 Olympics)
Originally built for the 1928 games, the Olympiaschanze ski jump in St. Moritz served that purpose again when the games returned to the site 20 years later. The ski jump operated until 2006. (Photo: Garry Furrer)
4. Lake Placid, New York (1932, 1980 Olympics)
This tiny village in New York’s Adirondack Mountains is one of only three towns to twice host the Winter Olympics (St. Moritz, Switzerland and Innsbruck, Austria, are the others). Of course, those 1980 games are best remembered for the “Miracle on Ice,” the United States hockey team’s stunning upset victory over the Soviet Union on its way to the gold medal. This photo shows the 1980 Winter Olympics cauldron (at left), which is located at the North Elba Show Grounds, an equestrian facility. Local officials will light the cauldron Feb. 7 to celebrate the opening of the 2014 games in Sochi. (Photo: MWanner)
3. Squaw Valley, California (1960 Olympics)
This small mountain resort town near Lake Tahoe stunned the sports world when it unexpectedly landed the 1960 Winter Olympics. Still a popular resort area today, Squaw Valley’s Olympic past remains a source of tremendous civic pride more than a half-century later.
2. Garmisch-Partenkirchen, Germany (1936 Olympics)
This mountain resort town in southern Germany built the Olympia-Kunsteisstadion for figure skating and hockey competitions in the 1936 games. Now 80 years old, the facility, now known as the Olympic-Eissport-Zentrum, has been refurbished through the years and is still in use. (Photo: Ben Garrett)
1. Oslo, Norway (1952 Olympics)
A few former Winter Olympics sites still host world-class events. Such is the case with the Holmenkollbakken, the ski-jumping hill from the 1952 Winter Games in Oslo, Norway. It’s shown here during the FIS Nordic World Ski Championships in 2011. The hill itself actually dates to 1892, and has undergone almost two-dozen modifications through the years. (Photo: Oskar Karlin)