From the second edition ever to 2021, Cortina is one of the few destinations in the World with such a strong and lasting bond with the history of skiing. Including the cursed Championships of 1941.
Few know that 2021 is not the first time Cortina hosts the World Ski Championships. Indeed, the second edition of the World event was held in Cortina back in 1932. The edition took place in the Queen of the Dolomites for three days in February and ended with a triumph of Swiss athletes.
Less than 10 years later, Cortina hosted once again the World Ski Championships in February 1941. The edition was very controversial, since the Second World War was ravaging Europe, with much of the continent under German rule by then. Nonetheless, twelve nations took part in the competitions, a respectable number for the time.
Back then, sport was not seen so much as a means to achieve peace and cooperation, but rather as an activity to be promoted because good athletes were likely to become good soldiers: fit, disciplined and with sharp reflexes.
The teams of Italy and Germany, which at the time included Austrian athletes, were by far the most successful, leaving no medals to the other nations.
Interestingly, the 1941 World Ski Championships in Cortina took place one year after Tokyo was supposed to host the Olympics but didn’t, since they were moved to Helsinki because of the war. Likewise, Cortina 2021 is taking place the year following the Games planned in Tokyo, which have had to be postponed because of the pandemic.
Another interesting fact about the 1941 World Ski Championships is that they were cancelled in 1946 because many nations could not take part due to the war. Therefore, even if they did take place, they are not listed by the FIS and the medals won were cancelled.
Cortina d’Ampezzo is one of the original Alpine destinations, part of a small group of pioneer towns where mountain tourism begun. These are the places where winter and summer mountain sports developed and which hosted the early editions of some events that have now become world famous, including the Winter Olympics.
The excitement for the World Ski Championships is palpable in Cortina: it was since the preparation for the 1956 Olympics that the town did not live such an intense phase of joint public and private investment and renovations, involving different sectors and infrastructure: accommodation, roads, electricity lines, high-speed fiber, ski lifts and slopes.