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9th Winter Universiade

Czechoslovakia, Špindlerův Mlýn
05 Feb 1978 - 12 Feb 1978

In 1978, the Winter Universiade returned to the site of the 1964 World University Games in Špindlerův Mlýn, and FISU’s decision to award the Games again to the Czechoslovakian city paid off in a big way as the event turned out to be a triumph.

Špindlerův Mlýn is one of eight cities to host the Winter Universiade on more than one occasion, joining Innsbruck, Austria (1968, 2005); Jaca, Spain (1981, 1995); Sofia, Bulgaria (1983, 1989); Strbske Pleso, Czechoslovakia/Slovakia (1987, 2015); Zakopane, Poland (1993, 2001); Lake Placid, USA (1972, 2023); Torino, Italy (2007, 2025).

Success at the Špindlerův Mlýn 1978 Universiade was all but imperative not only because the 1975 Livigno Games had to be scaled back and consisted of only two sports, but also because Špindlerův Mlýn marked the 55th anniversary of the World University Games movement that started in Paris, led by Jean Petitjean, the de facto father of FISU.

The ninth Winter Universiade drew 260 athletes from 21 countries and three continents, thanks in large part to the commitment shown by the local authorities to renovate the infrastructure from the first Games the city hosted 13 years earlier. The Czechoslovakian government threw its full weight behind the Universiade, with then Prime Minister Lubomir Strougal offering his blessing to the weeklong event.

For the sixth consecutive Games, the Soviet Union finished top of the medals table, ahead of host Czechoslavkia. The two winter sporting giants crushed the rest of the field, winning virtually all the events between them, even knocking Japan from its ski jumping perch, which the nation had long had a hold on.

The Špindlerův Mlýn Universiade proved ground-breaking for the university sports brethren as athletes were tested for doping and gender for the first time at a Winter Universiade, following the introduction of gender verification testing by the International Olympic Committee in 1968. None of the athletes tested positive for doping in Špindlerův Mlýn.

The 1978 Winter Universiade closed on 12 February to rousing applause from all participants after living up to the Games’ motto of ‘With Sport for Peace and Friendship between Nations’ before the torch was passed on to Jaca, which would organise the event three years later.

key facts

21 Countries participating

260 Athletes participating

4 Sports