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Schneeman’s Innsbruck success leads the way for the mascots

PYEONGCHANG-GUN, SOUTH KOREA - JULY 18:  Pyeongchang Anticipates 2018 Winter Olympics mascots Soohorang (L) and Bandabi (R) attend the press event to introduce the mascots for the PyeongChang 2018 winter olympics on July 18, 2016 in Pyeongchang-gun, South Korea.  (Photo by Chung Sung-Jun/Getty Images)|PYEONGCHANG-GUN, SOUTH KOREA - NOVEMBER 07: PyeongChang 2018 mascots are on display as construction continues ahead of the 2018 Winter Olympics on November 7, 2016 in Pyeongchang, South Korea.  (Photo by Cameron Spencer/Getty Images)

Schneeman, which literally translates from German as snowman, was the first-ever official mascot at an Olympic Winter Games (a previous one in 1968, Schuss, was created but never endorsed).

The brainchild of Walter Pötsch, Schneeman appeared in Austria at Innsbruck 1976 and paved the way for all mascots. Wearing a red hat of the Tyrol region, Schneeman was a squat snowman with a red, pointed nose.

After stepping in to replace Denver, the original hosts for 1976, Innsbruck officials were up against it and the mascot supposedly conjured up quickly by Pötsch.

Opinion was divided, as with most mascots, but the toy proved a resounding commercial success in terms of sales.

His creation was available as a soft toy or on T-shirts, stickers, cushions, key rings and glassware. He was also available in different winter sport modes: holding a hockey stick or else wearing skis and boots.

Since Schneeman’s inception, there has been a mascot at every single Winter Games.

In 1976, it was Amik, a beaver supposed to represent hard work, while Roni was the replacement for a real-life racoon which died before Lake Placid in 1980.

Vucko the wolf was chosen following a newspaper vote for Sarajevo 1984 beating the likes of a chipmunk, a lamb, a mountain goat and a porcupine.

Hidy and Howdy stepped up to the role as the sibling polar bars for the 1988 Games while Magique the snow imp was Albertville’s creation in 1992.

Toy characters Hakon and Kristin did the honours in 1994, while four snow owls, Snowlets were created four years later in Nagano.

Three animals: Poweder, Copper and Coal did the role in 2002, while Neve and Gliz (snow and ice) were the mascots in 2006.

For 2010, it was Sumi, Quatchi and Miga, and at the last Games in Sochi the role fell to Bely Mishka, Leopard and Zaika. For Pyeongchang, the mascots are Sooharang, a white tiger, and an Asiatic black bear called Bandabi.



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