Sports Memorabilia #5: Winter Sports

With the Ski season underway and and the Sochi Winter Olympics about to kick-off we take a brief look at the history of winter sports – and some of the collectable memorabilia associated with Ice Queens and Kings of the Mountains. They’re the sort of objects just the sorts of objects that you might keep in storage as part of a larger collection.

Remember when Britain won Gold in 2 man Bobsleigh at the winter olympics… 

Neither do we really – because it was way back in 1964 and it was the 2 man team of Dash and Nixon. Not really, it was Nash and Dixon, but we thought Dash was more appropriate for a bobsledding legend. We bet you also had no clue that we won silver at the very first Olympic Winter Games in Chamonix in 1924? It seems Bobsleigh is well and truly in British genes – as it was our countrymen (with a bit of help from a Swiss Hotelier) that invented ‘sliding’ sports. First as a recreational past-time, then as a contest.

From the late 1800s wealthy UK citizens, holidaying in St. Moritz, would manufacture sliding vehicles (which have evolved to become Bobsleigh, Luge and Skeleton) from whatever materials they could lay their hands on.  With the help of hotelier Caspar Badrutt they held races – largely run on public roads. There were, inevitably, a large number of injuries and accidents and from 1902 Badrutt began construction of a purpose built track. That track – the famous Cresta Run – is still in use today. Most of the corners were named by the British (as it was the British Military that founded the St. Moritz Tobogganing Club) and features a corner called Nash-Dixon in honour of our sliding greats.

And here’s a rare piece of associated memorabilia: original 9mm film of the every first Olympic Bobsleigh competition. A contest that saw the British 4 man team – Ralph Broome, Thomas Arnold  Alexander Richardson and Rodney Soher claim Silver. Yours for just £175!

More Great Britons…

Chemmy Alcott & Heidi Range. 

Chemmy Alcott is probably the best known of Britain’s current crop of World Cup-class Skiers and is – hopefully – heading to Sochi for the 2014 games.  This blonde bombshell is fast and talented (regularly placing in the top 20 in her early career), but a pre-season setback has seen her re-break a leg she injured badly in 2010.  She says she’ll be fit in time for Sochi and we hope so.

Heidi Range isn’t a skier at all – but longest serving band-member of girl group The Sugarbabes.  If you’re wondering how on earth that’s relevant to Wintersports memorabilia – well they were both contestants in ITV’s 2012 series of Dancing on Ice. And if you’re looking for a bit of glamour in your collection, then this signed picture of the pair in their skating finery is sure to provide it. It’s a snip over on ebay at £14.99.

BUT –  TV’s Dancing on Ice isn’t sport we hear you say – it’s an entertainment show. You’re right. But we will point out it was the brainchild of probably Britain’s best-known Winter Olympians.  Ice Dance legends Torvill and Dean.  And their competition costumes make great memorabilia. So much so that in 2005 they auctioned 15 of them off for charity – and raised an impressive £15,000. We wonder where the gold ‘Mack and Mabel’ costume is now…

Charity auctions – it seems – are popular amongst winter sports stars and Team USA’s Alpine Skiing pocket rocket Julia Mancuso has thought of a novel way of  raising money at auction. She’s auctioned herself.

Understandably though – she wasn’t for keeps (she had to get back to the World Cup Circuit) – it was just for one day and the lucky bidder had to give her back.  In fact the auction was for a day skiing with Mancuso + a load of top-line ski kit and a pair of Go-pro cameras to create memories of what we’re sure was a very special experience. It’s just the sort of equipment that you might keep in a self storage unit (or Mr Benn cupboard) out of season.

Mancuso is not the only Team USA female athlete auctioning herself off for charity. In a brilliant ‘calendar girls’ kind of approach, Olympic Champion Snowboarder Lindsey Jacobellis created a truly unique piece of sporting memorabilia. She had a cast made of her breasts in aid of Breast Cancer Research. You might remember Jacobellis. She provided one of the most entertaining ‘what happened next’ events in Winter Olympic history.

Leading the 2006 Torino Games Snowboard-X final by a country mile, she showboated with a grab over the second to last jump and landed badly – killing all her momentum.

She was passed by  Switzerland’s Tanya Frieden who won the Gold.  Jacobellis recovered to pick up silver – but had it not been for that unnecessary trick she would almost certainly have landed the top prize.  It wasn’t all bad though –  Lindsey returned to the Winter Olympics in Vancouver 2010, won gold and set the record straight.

Eddie the Eagle Edwards

Only the British could create a sporting hero like underdog Eddie ‘the Eagle’ Edwards. He shot to fame at the 1988 Calgary Olympics as the only British ski jumper and the worst (by some margin) in the competition.  But it seems our national penchant for supporting the underdog isn’t just confined just to UK shores. Finishing last in both the 70m & 90m jumps Eddie became an international star.   The Olympic audience the world over warmed to this plucky Brit as here was proof that it’s the taking part that counts.

In actual fact Eddie Edwards is not the complete novice the media portrayed him as. He is a highly accomplished skier – having just missed out on selection for the Great Britain Alpine Ski Team in 1984, been ranked World number 9 in speed skiing (achieving 109.8mph) and a record holding stunt skier. He also made a stellar comeback in another of ITV’s sports reality shows – Splash. Winning the 2013 final of the celebrity diving show in a pair of fetching gold trunks… and just to prove it – here it is:

So Eddie ‘the Eagle’ Edwards is still flying high and if you fancy a bit of eighties winter sports memorabilia for your collection, this rather cheesy-but-good signed photo might be the thing.

And whether you need storage for your sports memorabilia collection or your winter sports kit – including boots, skis, snowboards, even bobsleighs… a storage unit at ABC Selfstore is the perfect space.


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