February 12, 2010
As we count down the hours until the opening ceremonies of the 2010 Olympic Winter Games in Vancouver, we thought we’d take a look at past Olympics games to mark the occasion.
The National Postal Museum’s online exhibit, Playing to Win: American Sports & Athletes on Stamps, gives some historical context to U.S. participation in the games.
The oldest Olympic stamp in the collection is a 2 cent stamp from the 1932 Winter Games held in Lake Placid, New York. This piece of postage pictures a ski jumper flying over the mountains, was criticized for the skier’s unnatural position, according to the exhibit. (Funky form usually costs you some serious point deductions.) Personally, I’m more distracted by the fact that postage only cost 2 cents.
In addition to marking the games themselves, stamps also honor individual athletes who have made significant contributions. One of those athletes is Eddie Eagan, who won a gold medal in boxing in the 1920 Summer Olympic Games held in Antwerp, Belgium. At the Lake Placid games 12 years later, he and his team placed earned Olympic gold in a four-man bobsled event, making him the only American to win gold medals in both the summer and winter games.
And few hockey fans could forget one of the most teams to make a U.S. Postage stamp: the 1980 U.S. Hockey team, who beat out the favored Soviet Union for the gold medal in an underdog victory that would become known as the “Miracle on Ice.”
The Smithsonian American Art Museum also has a few images to ignite some winter sport spirit. For example, there’s Ski Jump, shows three skiers mid-jump. Bets are open for who will land on the snow, a la Olympic ski jumpers, and who will land on each other, a la many of us watching at home. You can check out some of their other wintry sports goodies online here.
Whatever event you’ll be glued to this weekend, just be thankful you’re watching from home instead of from the cold Vancouver snow. Or no snow, as the case may be.
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