When Did the Olympics Become Disneyfied?
The 1960 Squaw Valley Winter Games were the first to be broadcast to U.S. audiences.
The Winter Olympics kicked off with the opening ceremonies last night, including fireworks, designer costumes and K-pop. The ceremony was held in a roofless and frigid $100 million stadium that will be use precisely four times before it is knocked down, according to The Atlantic. We have come to expect this kind of financial and cultural excess from the sporting spectacle that is now populated largely with professional athletes instead of amateurs. This type of ceremony is a notion born in America, at a remote ski resort in the Sierra Nevada mountains that managed to host the first truly ostentatious Olympics. Those Winter Games, held in 1960, were in the Squaw Valley, California. They began with an entrepreneur named Alexander Cushing. Just a few years before the Games, in 1954, he had abandoned his law career to take over an oft-impassable ski slope in Squaw Valley. He was able to put together a bid for Squaw Valley to host the Olympics. He went through the whole process just to publicize his struggling operation and had “no more interest in getting the Games than the man in the moon,” according to The Atlantic. But the USOC chose Squaw Valley over Reno. Five years later, he was hosting the Olympics, and it was bigger than Cushing could have ever imagined, and far more influential. Buoyed by emerging technology, televised live to Americans for the first time, and overseen by Walt Disney himself, the Squaw Valley Games were star-studded, glitzy and futuristic. They also were the first games to have an Olympic Village, where athletes lived four to a room and hung out. Disney parade a series of Hollywood luminaries to Northern California to entertain the athletes and participate in opening and closing ceremonies.
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