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25 September 2020 | in Winter FISU World University Games

Spotlight: Remembering the Jaca 1995 Winter Universiade

Jaca WU95 skijump

The local organisers of the World University Games in Jaca, Spain were cautiously optimistic about hosting the 1995 Winter Universiade.


Jaca WU 95 posterOn the one hand, having successfully hosted the 10th Winter Universiade in 1981, they were more than confident in their ability to do it again 14 years later. But on the other hand, having witnessed the disappointment a month earlier of Sierra Nevada postponing the FIS Alpine World Ski Championships due to a lack of snow, anxiety was high about whether the weather would cooperate.


It wasn’t until the night before the competition was set to start, when 15cm of snow fell on the area, that everyone involved in the Jaca 1995 Winter Universiade was able to breathe a huge sigh of relief. Even more snow would come in the following days, ensuring that the Games would go on as planned.


The King and Queen of Spain exhibited their love of sport and support for the Games by attending the Opening Ceremony as well as a number of competitions. This despite the fact that King Juan Carlos I broke his wrist in a skiing accident the day after the ceremony.


The Spaniards were rewarded for their efforts not only with a healthy dose of snow but also with the star of the Games – Spain’s own Monica Bosch, who became the first Spanish woman to win two golds at a Universiade when she topped the podium in the slalom and giant slalom events. Not bad for a 22-year-old economics student from the decidedly non-mountain town of Barcelona.

Jaca WU95 alpine

South Korea, hosts of the next Winter Universiade in Muju-Chonju, also made its mark on these Games with two world records in short track speedskating. So-Hee Kim raced to a time of 5:11.76 in the 3,000m and Lee-Kyung Chun set the 1,500m record at 2:27.38. Compatriot Ji-Hoon Chae took home four gold medals of his own in short track for the best personal medal haul of the Games, tied with Russian cross-country skier Olga Kosnatcheva. One month after Jaca, Chae went on to win four gold medals at the Gjøvik World Championships in Norway.


The future Korean Universiade hosts also helped to ensure the success of their own Games in 1997 by sending some 200 people to Jaca for nearly two months to learn first-hand from the Spaniards.

Jaca Wu 95 ice skating

One demonstration sport in Jaca also had the sports world buzzing. Snowboarding was such a success that it had athletes and organisers alike calling for its inclusion as a full event at the Universiade and the Olympic Games. “We have all proved here that our sport deserves to become an Olympic one,” said parallel slalom winner Jeff Greenwood of the United States. “In any case, I’m already dreaming of performing in Nagano in 1998.”


Greenwood’s Olympic dream would almost come true in 1998: Snowboarding became an Olympic sport in time for the Nagano Games, but he would have to wait until Salt Lake City 2002 to qualify for his first and only Olympic Games.


Snowboarding became an official Winter Universiade sport in 1999 at the Games in Poprad Tatry, Slovakia.

Jaca WU 95 closing ceremonyThe Winter Universiade closed to a night sky filled with fireworks in the heart of the Sierra Nevadas