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08 May 2020 | in Winter FISU World University Games

Spotlight: Remembering the Špindlerův Mlýn 1978 Winter Universiade

Take a trip back through 60 years of Universiade history. The 18th stop on the FISU history tour brings us to the Bohemia region ski resort town in the heart of the Krkonoše mountains for the Spindlerův Mlýn 1978 Winter Universiade


WU1978 MedalAwardingA winter sports competitor receiving gold during a medal awarding ceremony at the Spindlerův Mlýn 1978 Winter Universiade

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 then-Czechoslovakian, now-Czech Republic city paid off in a big way as the event turned out to be a triumph.


Špindlerův Mlýn remains one of four cities to have hosted the Winter Universiade on more than one occasion, joining Jaca, Spain (1981, 1995); Sofia, Bulgaria (1983, 1989); and Strbske Pleso, Czechoslovakia/Slovakia (1987, 2015).


Success at the Winter Universiade in Špindlerův Mlýn was all but imperative not only because the Livigno 1975 Winter Universiade 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.

WU1978 AlpineSkiA female competitor takes flight during their alpine ski run down the Krkonoše mountain slopes

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 Czechoslovakia. 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 in university sports competition.

WU1978 Ski jumping

The Špindlerův Mlýn 1978 Winter Universiade proved groundbreaking for the university sports brethren as athletes were tested for doping and gender for the first time at the event, 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.

SU2019 PresentationThe Spindlerův Mlýn 1978 Winter Universiade coming to a close, with the FISU flag handed over to the upcoming event host of Jaca in the Spanish Pyrenees mountains