The Video Games Of The Olympic Games: Winter Olympics (Lillehammer '94) - Warped Factor - Words in the Key of Geek.

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The Video Games Of The Olympic Games: Winter Olympics (Lillehammer '94)

Chris Morley packs his thermals!
Time now to dip a no doubt freezing toe into the first of the dedicated Winter Olympics video games - the no self-explanatory Winter Olympics from 1994 bringing all the action from Lillehammer in Norway to a PC or console near you, whether that be the Amiga. Master System, Mega Drive and even Nintendo brought into the fold, or should that be cold, with versions for the Game Boy & SNES.

Developers US Gold offered sixteen competing nations across ten events. Choose from Austria, Australia, Brazil, Canada, Finland, France, Great Britain, Germany, Italy, Japan, hosts Norway, Russia, Spain, Switzerland, Sweden and the United States, with the programme of available sports perhaps understandably dominated by various disciplines of skiing; Downhill, Slalom & Giant Slalom, Super G and Freestyle, alongside the always popular Ski Jumping.

Then there's the quite frankly plain dangerous sounding Biathlon combining cross country skiing with rifle shooting! And even if you think you've never seen it before in an entirely sporting context, if you've watched For Your Eyes Only, even James Bond has had a go. Admittedly he was being chased by assassins & shot at), which to the best of our knowledge isn't something any Olympic athlete has to worry about while competing in it, but nonetheless, as far as we're concerned Roger Moore deserves at least an honorary gold medal for showing off some excellent technique & avoiding biting the bullet in the process. What a hero, eh?

Back to the actual Olympic events on offer here, though, as they're rounded off with Short Track Speed Skating and Luge, both minus assassins.

Whereas all that might sound like a decent selection of winter sport fun to be had from the comfort of your own living room, just how much fun Winter Olympics represented depended quite heavily on which platform you'd purchased it on. All versions were published by U.S. Gold, with the home computer versions (Amiga and PC) developed by ID Software, and console versions (GG, MD/Gen, Master System, Super NES) developed by Tiertex. You may think that US Gold's choice to use two companies developing different versions of the game separately would explain any differences between versions, but it was further compounded by the development methodology of Tiertex, who used a different game programmer for each platform – each one programming in a different assembly language (no porting)!!!
Amongst major differences, freestyle moguls are different on the 16-bit versions, and overall the Super NES version is much more unforgiving than the Mega Drive/Genesis version, while the Master System version is the one allowing better control on alpine skiing events.

Still, Winter Olympics was the first video game to showcase the Summer's frosty sister sporting competition which have been part of the Olympic Games calendar since 1924, with the first staging tasking place in Chamonix, France. Five events made it into the programme; bobsleigh were Nordic skiing, skating, curling and ice hockey.

A more unwanted bit of history was made by the French in becoming the first host nation in the history of the modern Olympics not to win any gold medals, ending up with three bronzes. But that's perhaps not the most surprising factoid from this Winter Games, as possibly the longest wait for a medal was endured by ski jumper Anders Haugen, who represented the United States. He didn't actually get his bronze medal until fifty years after he'd earned it when the error was finally put right in 1974! Haugen was 86 when the IOC confirmed a mistake had been made in the calculation of his score as a younger man....
“Haugen was seemingly just a step away from the podium at the inaugural Winter Games in Chamonix, with the Norwegians sweeping the medals in the contest. Jacob Tullin Thams won gold, with Narve Bonna second and Thorleif Haug, who also won two golds in cross-country skiing and a gold in Nordic combined, finishing third.

Anders Haugen did perform the longest jump in the normal hill event, but he made a mistake during the landing that dropped him to fourth place.

Fifty years later, a participant in the competition in Chamonix, Thoralf Stromstad, drew the attention of sports historian Jacob Vaage to a potential mistake in the judges’ scoring protocols. Vaage double-checked the information and confirmed that the American had received the wrong scores.

In 1974, the Norwegians arranged a trip for Anders to his home country, where the 86-year-old was awarded the Olympic bronze medal with all the appropriate honours and celebrations for such an event.“
And amazingly he was still a regular skier into his nineties!

The families of the Great Britain curling team, who won their country's sole gold medal, also had reason to celebrate, but not until 2006 after the Glasgow Herald had made a claim to the IOC to state that the triumph should be officially recognised.

As Team GB's official website would recall-
“An intrepid quartet of Scottish curlers wrote their names into British Olympic history in late January 1924, although they had no idea at the time. In fact, it would take 82 years and some equally intrepid reporting from the Glasgow Herald for their place in the nation’s sporting folklore to be truly understood.

Willie Jackson and son Laurence, Robin Welsh and Tom Murray, all from the Royal Caledonian Curling Club, pitched up to Chamonix to what was then known as the International Winter Sports Week. There they cruised to victory in a curling competition featuring just three teams. First, they beat Sweden 38-7, before an even more emphatic 46-4 victory over hosts France to confirm their title.

However, even after the Chamonix games were retroactively designated the first Winter Olympics in 1925, it was commonly accepted that curling had been just a demonstration event.“
Team GB will be hoping for more than just demonstrating the sport at Beijing 22, as the 24th Winter Olympics officially gets underway. For us, though, we're skipping China and going into space as we stray into the realm of completely unofficial but no less fun takes on the Games with the genuinely bonkers-sounding Alien Olympics 2044 AD!

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