Issue Date: January 11, 2006
City: Colorado Springs, CO
Quantity Issued: 100,000,000
The sports of the Olympic Winter Games trace their origins back hundreds, even thousands, of years. Skating was an ancient form of rapid transportation across frozen lakes, rivers, and canals. The oldest form of skate (a piece of bone attached to sandals) existed 22,000 years ago.
Biathlon (cross-country skiing and rifle shooting) was originally a matter of survival. Northern Europeans skied to hunt their food and to defend their countries. Bobsleigh racing, the first sliding sport, originated in St. Moritz, Switzerland, in the late 1800s. Riders raced down the road to Celerina to win a bottle of champagne.
Curling started in 16th-century Scotland, played on frozen ponds, lochs, and marshes. The British first brought ice hockey, a winter version of the older game of field hockey, to Canada. During the 1890s, the sport migrated south to the U.S. Luge is the French word for sled. Viking sleds existed as early as 800 A.D.
Skiing has long transported people and goods in icy lands. A 6,000-year-old Russian painting shows a hunter on primitive skis. The Olympics has ski jumping, snowboarding, Nordic-combined, freestyle, and cross-country skiing, as well as alpine skiing, featured on the “2006 Olympic Winter Games” stamp.