1994 29¢ Winter Olympics
· These stamps were voted the second most popular of 1994
· Placed ninth in the USPS’s All-Time Top 10 Most Popular Commemorative Stamps List
Stamp Category: Commemorative
Set: 1994 Winter Olympics
First Day of Issue: January 6, 1994
First Day City: Salt Lake City, Utah
Quantity Issued: 179,000,000
Printed by: Ashton-Potter
Printing Method: Lithographed
Format: Panes of 20 in sheets of 120; offset printing plates of 240
Microprinting: “1994” and “WINTERSPORTS” in black microprinting on each stamp for increased security.
Why the stamps were issued: To commemorate the 1994 Winter Olympics in Lillehammer, Norway, which ran from February 12-27, 1994.
About the stamp designs: These stamps featured artwork by Lon Busch, who had previously designed the 1992 Winter Olympics stamps (US #2611-15). Busch’s airbrushed images have a glow to them, meant to imply the athletes had a bright light shining on them. Also, each stamp features the color of one of the Olympic rings – the Alpine skier is blue, the luge is yellow, the ice dancing is black, the Nordic skier is green, and the ice hockey is red.
Busch created his stamp designs from photographs and three of them were accepted with few changes needed (the Alpine and Nordic skiers and the hockey goalie). Among the changes to the luge stamp were showing more of the sled beneath the athlete and adding a white bib. The female ice dancer was also reworked – removing leg warmers, giving her a more modest top, and lowering her leg. After the stamp was issued, a figure skater commented that she should be wearing a skirt, per Winter Olympic rules. However, Linn’s Stamp News noted that it could depict exhibition skating, which doesn’t have a dress code. Further, the stamp designs were approved by the US Olympic Committee.
Special design details: Each stamp has microprinting in two places that reads “WINTERSPORTS” and “1994.”
First Day City: Salt Lake City, Utah – America’s proposed city to host the 2002 Winter Olympics.
Unusual fact about these stamps: These stamps have been found with two sizes of perforation holes, though the gauge is the same – 11.2 holes per two centimeters. While Ashton Potter found no issues with their equipment, the USPS offered two potential causes for the variations. One could be wear on the perforation pins, and the other could be differences in pressure when stacks of stamp sheets were perforated at the same time.
About the 1994 Winter Olympics Stamps: The 1994 Winter Olympics stamps continued a long-standing USPS tradition of issuing stamps to honor the international sporting event. The US issued its first Olympic stamps in 1932 honoring the Winter Games in Lake Placid, New York and the Summer Games in Los Angeles, California. They didn’t issue Olympic stamps again until 1960, when the Games returned to the US. Since 1972, the USPS has issued stamps for every Olympic Games, regardless of where they’re held.
History the stamps represent: The 1994 Winter Olympics were applauded for the beautiful landscape and venues as well as the enthusiastic fans. In all, 1,737 athletes participated (1,215 men and 522 women) in 61 events in six sports. These were the first Winter Games to not be held the same year as the Summer Games, due a change that placed them two years apart. Norway won the most medals (26) but Russia had the most gold (11).
A breathtaking sport, downhill or Alpine skiing is a test of speed and skill as competitors race over a course at up to 65 miles per hour. An Olympic event since 1936, Alpine skiing consists of five different contests: downhill, slalom, giant slalom, super giant slalom, and the combined.
A test of high-speed skiing, the downhill is run on a course, that for men drops 800 to 1,000 meters. A skilled downhill racer can complete the course in 1 1/2 to 2 minutes. The slalom challenges the skier’s skill in high-speed turns. A series of numbered gates are set up so that the racers must make many turns, skiing in a zig-zag fashion.
Combining the elements of the downhill and the slalom, the giant slalom requires both speed and the ability to make high-speed turns. The super giant slalom is a cross between the downhill and the giant slalom. And the combined competition consists of a downhill race and a slalom. Although the two events are always held at the same location, they often take place on different days.
Women also compete in these events, although at shorter distances and on courses with less of a vertical drop.
A relatively new Olympic event, lugeing was included in the Winter Games for the first time in 1964. A traditional winter sport in Austria, it dates back to the 16th century. The term luge comes from the French word for a small sled. Lying on their backs, lugers race feet first down a steeply banked ice-covered course. The driver steers by using his feet, shifting weight, and pulling on straps attached to the runners.
Gliding over the ice so gracefully and effortlessly, ice dancers often leave their audience spellbound. Combining skating with ballroom dancing, ice dancing differs from pair skating in several ways.
In ice dancing the couple may separate only briefly to change direction or position. Movements of strength and daring skill which are inconsistent with dance, particularly lifts and jumps, are not allowed. And each partner must keep at least one skate on the ice, except during brief lifts and spins when the woman may have both skates off the ice.
In ice dancing competition, the couple must perform in three events: compulsory dances, original set pattern dances, and free dancing. In compulsory dances the couple must perform two particular dances to the same music. These dances must be performed according to official diagrams. In the original set pattern dance the couple may choose their own steps and music, however they must follow a certain dance rhythm set in advance. In free dancing the couple may select their own music and combinations of movements.
Originating in 1880 Austria, when the Vienna Skating Club adapted the waltz, ice dancing became an Olympic event in 1976.
Cross Country Skiing
An important means of transportation, cross-country skiing dates back thousands of years. The term Nordic refers to northern Europe, where in countries such as Sweden, Norway, and Finland, cross-country skiing is still a practical means of travel in the winter.
During the 1900s skiing gained popularity both as a recreational and a competitive sport. And in 1924, Nordic competitions were included in the first Winter Olympic Games. A grueling test of strength and endurance, cross-country racing requires courage, determination, and stamina.
Like Alpine skiing, Nordic skiing also consists of several different contests: cross-country races, relays, jumping, and the biathlon. Cross-country races take place on a course that is equally divided between uphill, downhill, and flat surfaces. Skiers race against the clock - the one with the fastest time wins. Relays are team competitions, where each member of the team races an equal distance. Jumping, a popular spectator sport, often attracts up to 200,000 spectators. Contestants receive points for both the length of the jump and the style with which it was executed. The biathlon combines cross-country skiing with riflery as skiers shoot at targets set up along the course.
The fast, rough action of ice hockey makes it one of the most exciting sports to watch. Players flash up and down the ice, and with powerful swings send the puck traveling at speeds of up to 100 miles per hour. Canada’s national sport, the game has become popular in other countries including Czechoslovakia, the Soviet Union, Sweden, and the United States.
First played in Montreal in 1855, ice hockey most likely began as a variation of field hockey. Students at Montreal’s McGill University drew up the first formal rules for the game in 1870. As the rules became widely distributed, the popularity of the sport grew, and soon teams began cropping up across Canada. In fact, by 1893 the game had become so popular that Canada’s governor-general Baron Stanley donated a silver bowl to be awarded annually to Canada’s champion hockey team. The Montreal team became the first to win the coveted Stanley Cup.
Two years later the first ice hockey game was played in the U.S., and by 1903 the first professional team had been organized at Houghton, Michigan. In 1920 the first amateur world championships were held as part of the Olympic Games, marking the beginning of Olympic ice hockey competition.