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Andrea Mead Lawrence, the first American alpine skier to win Olympic gold, training in 1947.
Fifteen-year-old Andrea Mead Lawrence, the first American alpine skier to win Olympic gold, training in 1947.George Silk—Time & Life Pictures/Getty Images
Andrea Mead Lawrence, the first American alpine skier to win Olympic gold, training in 1947.
Six-time U.S. national figure-skating champion Gretchen Merrill, St. Moritz Olympics, 1948.
French figure skater Jacqueline du Bief, St. Moritz, 1948.
British figure skater Jeanette Altwegg, bronze medalist at St. Moritz, 1948.
Canadian Patricia Gault, St. Moritz, 1948.
Olympic figure skater, St. Moritz, 1948.
Gretchen Merrill, St. Moritz Olympics, 1948.
American skier Brynhild Grasmoen, St. Moritz, 1948.
Great Britain's Sue Holmes, Cortina, Italy, 1956.
Unidentified skater, Cortina, Italy, 1956.
Unidentified athlete, Cortina, Italy, 1956.
American silver medalist Carol Heiss, Cortina, Italy, 1956.
Russian cross-country skiers Radya Yeroshina (silver) and Lyubov Kozyreva (gold), Cortina, Italy, 1956.
American silver medalist Penny Pitou (left) and German downhill gold medalist Heidi Biebl, Squaw Valley, 1960.
Slalom silver medalist Betsy Snite (USA), Squaw Valley, 1960.
American downhill skier Penny Pitou (silver medalist), Squaw Valley, 1960.
American downhill skier Penny Pitou (silver medalist), Squaw Valley, 1960.
Unidentified athlete, Squaw Valley, 1960.
Figure skater Carol Heiss (gold medal, Ladies Singles), Squaw Valley, 1960.
Figure skater Carol Heiss (gold medal, Ladies Singles), Squaw Valley, 1960.
Russian speed-skating gold medalist Lidiya Skoblikova (center), with Poland's Elwira Seroczynska (left, silver) and Helena Pilejczyk (right, bronze), Squaw Valley, 1960.
Unidentified athlete, Innsbruck Olympics, 1964.
Unidentified athlete, Innsbruck Olympics, 1964.
American skier Jean Saubert (center) gets kisses from French downhill gold and silver medalists (and sisters), Christine and Marielle Goitschel, Innsbruck Olympics, 1964.
Unidentified athlete, Innsbruck Olympics, 1964.
Left to right: Christine Goitschel, Jean Saubert, and Marielle Goitschel, Innsbruck, 1964
American speed skater and four-time Olympic medalist Dianne Holum, Grenoble Olympics, 1968.
Unidentified athlete, Grenoble Olympics, 1968.
Three-time Olympic medalist Lyudmila Titova, speed skater, Grenoble Olympics, 1968.
American figure skater Peggy Fleming, Grenoble Olympics, 1968.
Twelve-year-old Romanian figure skater Beatrice Hustiu, Grenoble Olympics, 1968.
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American figure skater Peggy Fleming, Grenoble Olympics, 1968.
Peggy Fleming, gold medalist, Ladies Singles figure skating, Grenoble Olympics, 1968.
Anne Henning, 16, skating to victory in the 500-meter speed skating race at the Sapporo Winter Olympics, 1972.
Figure skaters American Janet Lynn (bronze), Austrian Beatrix Schuba (gold) and Candian Karin Manguessen (silver), Sapporo Winter Olympics, 1972.
Women's luge, Sapporo Winter Olympics, 1972.
Fifteen-year-old Andrea Mead Lawrence, the first American alpine skier to win Olympic gold, training in 1947.
George Silk—Time & Life Pictures/Getty Images
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Women of the Winter Olympics: Amazing Athletes in Action

Jan 15, 2014

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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