OLYMPIC MASCOTS60OLYMPIC REVIEW
OLYMPIC MASCOTSThere have been three dogs, four owls, twochildren, two ancient Grecian dolls, onesnowball and even an ice cube - and thelatest addition to the Olympic stable are two drops of enchanted steel. Ever since 1972, when Germangraphic designer Otto Aicher first introduced Waldi, a dachshund, as the official Olympic mascot atMunich, mascots have become a fundamental partof each edition of the Games. Often chosen bypopular vote, mascots are a chance to present aside of the Olympic community, which is both playfuland symbolic, creating an opportunity toengage with an audience evenbeyond the Games themselves -particularly children. And, thanks totheir many permutations, be they softtoys, posters, pins or piggy banks, mascotshave become a source of revenue, too; someare even collectors items -if you have aSchneeman plush toy (Innsbruck 1976),keep hold of it. Most people remember Waldi as the firstofficial mascot, but he had a precursor: Schuss.Half man, half ski machine, Schuss was OLYMPIC REVIEW61Animals that were representative both of their country and the Olympic spirit havebeen a formula that's been popular eversince: Amik, the beaver, a creatureassociated with hard work, was Canada's ?introduced, unofficially, at the 1968 Winter Gamesin Grenoble, and his popularity set the mascot ballrolling, skipping only the 1972 Winter Games inSapporo to be a feature of every edition since.Unlike Schuss, Waldi, however, was designed withspecific goals in mind. Aicher knew how populardachshunds were in Bavaria (Waldi was based onhis own dog, a long-haired Cherie von Birkenhof),and felt that the animal's distinctive characteristics- tenacity and agility, for example - accuratelyrepresented the qualities required to succeed at the Olympic Games.