Sports Gazette

by sports journalism students at St Mary's University, London

Mascot Madness: the 10 weirdest creatures of the Winter Olympics

Posted on 15 February 2018 by Ena Bilobrk

As soon as a new host city is announced for the Winter Olympics, hundreds of designers enter the competition for a new mascot.

Their unveiling is almost as exciting as the announcement of new host cities. With Soohorang, the white tiger, Pyeongchang is lucky to have such a cool ambassador, because some predecessors would have better remained hidden.

Ahead of the 23rd edition, we looked at the creepiest, scariest and most atrocious mascots of the Olympic Winter Games.

1. Schuss: 1968 Grenoble

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Resembling a skiing sperm, this unofficial mascot was the first of many more retina-melting creatures to come.

‘Schuss’ is an alpine term for ‘a straight downhill run on skis’ and luckily this abstract skier was never personified by a life-size character.

2. Schneemann: 1976 Innsbruck

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The distorted snowman was the first official mascot personified by life-size costumes with massive carrot noses scaring the hell out of Austrian children.

The hat represented a typical ‘Tyrolean’ hat worn in the region surrounding Innsbruck.

3. Roni: 1980 Lake Placid

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After the original mascot, Rocky – a living racoon – died just before the games, it was replaced by a plush version in a snow suit. Unfortunately, it was not a racoon the Beatles would have approved of.

Roni’s name actually means racoon in the language of the Iroquois tribe, who are native to the Adirondack region Lake Placid sits in.

4. Vučko: 1984 Sarajevo

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The friendly racoon’s successor was the not-so-friendly wolf, who had (b)eaten initial proposals of a mountain goat, a weasel and a snowball.

Officials tried to sell Vučko as the incarnation of good beating evil, of the bad wolf becoming a skiing pooch.

5. Hidy and Howdy: 1988 Calgary

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These hideous polar bears in cowboy gear were the first sibling mascots at an Olympic Winter Games.

Fun Fact: Hidy and Howdy weren’t allowed to hug anyone in a black suit, lest they might have had a shedding problem.

6. Magique: 1992 Albertville

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This time, a star-shaped gnome was chosen over a mountain goat.

The initial mascot was rejected by the Olympic Committee thinking a ‘tricolore’ chubby star would signify dreams and imagination and win over everyone’s heart. Imagine this creature turning up in your dreams…

7. Sukki, Nokki, Lekki and Tsukki: 1998 Nagano

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These colourful owls were meant to be snowy owls and represented the four elements, four major islands of Japan and the four years making up an Olympiad.

So much thought was put into their meaning, yet no one paid attention to their atrocious beaks.

8. Neve and Gliz: 2006 Turin

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The overly enthusiastic humanised snowball and ice cube with one tooth make you fear what the losing proposals looked like.

They represent passion, enthusiasm and elegance, but a mountain goat could have done it just as well.

9. Miga: 2010 Vancouver

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Part killer whale and part bear, Miga apparently loved surfing in summer and snowboarding in winter and looked more like an anime drawing of a panda.

To make it even worse, the mythological creature was paired with Bigfoot and an animal with wings and bear legs.

10. Bely Mishka: 2014 Sochi

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Also part of a trio, this one is by far the creepiest.

The polar bear was also lovingly nicknamed ‘Pedobear’, resembling the Internet meme of a paedophilic cartoon bear. Others dubbed him as ‘Nightmare Bear’.