The Winter Games that first hosted the Jamaican bobsled team and artificial snow

The Winter Games that first hosted the Jamaican bobsled team and artificial snow
The Winter Games that first hosted the Jamaican bobsled team and artificial snow

This Day In Weather History is a daily podcast by Chris Mei from The Weather Network, featuring stories about people, communities and events and how weather impacted them.


The 1988 Winter Games took place from Feb. 13-28 in Calgary, Alta. It was Canada's first time hosting the Winter Games. 57 countries competed in 46 events. The Games are memorable for a few reasons, including warmer than welcomed weather.

Though Calgary was new to hosting international gaming events, it's very familiar with hosting chinook winds.

Chinooks are warm and dry winds that can cause dramatic temperature swings for a few hours. And that's just what they did during the Games.

Temperatures fluctuated from –30°C to 12°C overnight. Temperatures even rose as high as 17°C, which did not bode well for the outdoor winter, snow-reliant sports.

And, if the melting snow wasn't enough of a weather issue, there were extreme winds. Wind speeds were measured as high as 120 km/h.

These challenging weather conditions caused many event delays, 33 to be specific. The ski-jumping events were all sorts of delayed, as they had to contend with both the lack of snow and severe wind.

There wasn't much that could be done to offset the wind, but for the first time in Winter Games history, some events were held on artificial snow.


The Olympic Saddledome. Courtesy of JamesTeterenko/Wikipedia/CC BY 2.5

Frank King, whose official title was "president of the Olympic Organizing Committee," referenced the weather during the closing ceremony, stating we “Come together and share our warm way of life,” adding, “It turned out a lot warmer than we expected.”

Though the weather was memorably warm, the most famous aspect of the Games is likely the Jamaican bobsled team that inspired the film Cool Runnings. The team made its debut in Calgary in 1988.

Prince Albert II of Monaco also competed in bobsled events. He became the ruler of Monaco when his father died in 2005.

The Prince refused any preferential treatment while at the games and opted to stay in the Athletes' Village.

Overall, a memorable Winter Games.

To hear more stories about the 1988 Winter Games, listen to today's episode of "This Day In Weather History."

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