For the Olympic Lovers: The Olympics and Place

The Winter Olympics have been near and dear to my heart for a long time, since my sister Annie O’Shea is on the USA Skeleton team. While she is not competing in the Olympics this time around (women’s skeleton had two spots, not three), it’s still exciting to cheer on the athletes whose names and faces are familiar to me. Go Bobsled & Skeleton!

Have you been watching the Olympics yet? Have you noticed the gorgeous scenery in and around Sochi? While you’re watching the Olympics with a preservation eye (let’s face it, we never stop thinking preservation), have you considered how the Olympics alter a place? Suddenly there is an entire village constructed, inhabited and then deserted. Surely this alters its host city. Does it have the benefit of creating beautiful spaces and opportunities for these cities? Or is it just too much to handle all at once?  It seems that cities have varying results, but overwhelmingly there are venues without a purpose.

A list of the summer and winter sports (wow, there are many more winter sports!)

Toboggan runs in Yosemite National Park, 1932.

The Bobsled/Skeleton/Luge track from the 1984 Sarajevo Olympics.

Olympic cities after the Olympics (a positive spin).

Decaying cities follow the Olympics (a negative spin).

And some eerie abandoned post Olympic venues.

Three lessons cities should learn by hosting the Olympics.

Successful changes to Barcelona due to the 1992 Olympics.

The Olympic City Project, a book documenting post Olympic cities, and the NPR interview (with photos).

The 1932 Bobsled and Skeleton track at Lake Placid, NY. The 1980 track remains in use.

What do you think? What should cities take into consideration when bidding on, planning for, and constructing the Olympic venues? And what can we do these monstrous venues following the close of each Olympics? Is there value in preservation? Planners, preservationists, everyone – what do you have to say?


4 thoughts on “For the Olympic Lovers: The Olympics and Place

  1. past2presentresearch says:

    It’s sad that so many of them lie in ruins. It seems that the greatest challenge is keeping those sites relevant within those cities/communities in the long-term. Host cities pour outlandish amounts of money into constructing venues for the competitions, hotels/athlete housing, shops and restaurants and everything in between. With such an investment, it’s absolutely critical that these cities (and their nations, perhaps) establish long-term plans.

  2. Chad says:

    Good, and important topic:

    That is so cool about your sister. How exciting! I have been glued to my TV set. I am mesmerized by the snowboarders flying off those gigantic ramps. How they stick the landing is beyond my comprehension. And that red outfit of the 15 year old Russian skater was simply stunning.

    Skeleton looks interesting. I don’t remember ever seeing it on TV. Certainly it would be better to watch than curling! I always thought how cool would it be to have a sledding slalom event. You would use a plastic sled like we used as kids and go down a mountain like an alpine skier but with a sled. I can’t understand why they have never had such a sport. How awesome would that be?

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