TIME

Women of the Winter Olympics: Amazing Athletes in Action

Photos of women winter Olympians -- the famous and the largely forgotten, medalists and non-medalists -- from the 1940s to the 1970s.

Ever since the first Winter Olympics in 1924, women athletes have competed for gold with the same intensity, grace and power as their male counterparts — even if, in ’24, the only events in which women were allowed to take part were figure- and pairs-skating. In 2014 at Sochi, meanwhile, competitors from around the globe will put it all on the line in 98 events across 15 disciplines, from figure-skating to ice hockey to — finally — ski jumping for both men and women.

Here, in acknowledgement of the long, icy, often-uphill trail that sportswomen have had to navigate through the years, LIFE offers a series of Winter Olympics photos from the 1940s to the 1970s — pictures featuring the still-famous (Peggy Fleming, Lidiya Skoblikova, Andrea Mead Lawrence) as well as more than a few largely forgotten female athletes who made a mark in the Olympics, whether they medaled or not.
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