Written By: Liz Ronk

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. At the 2022 edition of the Winter Olympics in Beijing, meanwhile, competitors from around the globe will put it all on the line in a diverse array of events that includes new events such as big air freestyle, monobob (or one-person bobsleedding) and snowboard cross. Among the star attractions on the U.S. team are women such as skier Mikaela Shiffrin, bobsledder Lolo Jones, snowboarder Chloe Kim, and short track speed skater Maame Biney.

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.

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, trained in 1947.

George Silk/Life Pictures/Shutterstock

Six-time U.S. national figure-skating champion Gretchen Merrill, St. Moritz Olympics, 1948.

Six-time U.S. national figure-skating champion Gretchen Merrill, St. Moritz Olympics, 1948.

Mark Kauffman/Life Pictures/Shutterstock

French figure skater Jacqueline du Bief, St. Moritz, 1948.

French figure skater Jacqueline du Bief, St. Moritz, 1948.

Mark Kauffman/Life Pictures/Shutterstock

British figure skater Jeanette Altwegg, bronze medalist at St. Moritz, 1948.

British figure skater Jeanette Altwegg, bronze medalist at St. Moritz, 1948.

Walter Sanders/Life Pictures/Shutterstock

Canadian Patricia Gault, St. Moritz, 1948.

Canadian Patricia Gault, St. Moritz, 1948.

Mark Kauffman/Life Pictures/Shutterstock

Olympic figure skater, St. Moritz, 1948.

Olympic figure skater, St. Moritz, 1948.

Walter Sanders/Life Pictures/Shutterstock

Gretchen Merrill, St. Moritz Olympics, 1948.

Gretchen Merrill, St. Moritz Olympics, 1948.

Walter Sanders/Life Pictures/Shutterstock

American skier Brynhild Grasmoen, St. Moritz, 1948.

American skier Brynhild Grasmoen, St. Moritz, 1948.

Walter Sanders/Life Pictures/Shutterstock

Great Britain's Sue Holmes, Cortina, Italy, 1956.

Great Britain’s Sue Holmes, Cortina, Italy, 1956.

Frank Scherschel/Life Pictures/Shutterstock

Unidentified skater, Cortina, Italy, 1956.

Unidentified skater, Cortina, Italy, 1956.

Frank Scherschel/Life Pictures/Shutterstock

Unidentified athlete, Cortina, Italy, 1956.

Unidentified athlete, Cortina, Italy, 1956.

Frank Scherschel/Life Pictures/Shutterstock

American silver medalist Carol Heiss, Cortina, Italy, 1956.

American figure-skating silver medalist Carol Heiss, Cortina, Italy, 1956.

Frank Scherschel/Life Pictures/Shutterstock

Russian cross-country skiers Radya Yeroshina (silver) and Lyubov Kozyreva (gold), Cortina, Italy, 1956.

Russian cross-country skiers Radya Yeroshina (silver) and Lyubov Kozyreva (gold), Cortina, Italy, 1956.

Frank Scherschel/Life Pictures/Shutterstock

American silver medalist Penny Pitou (left) and German downhill gold medalist Heidi Biebl, Squaw Valley, 1960.

American silver medalist Penny Pitou (left) and German downhill gold medalist Heidi Biebl, Squaw Valley, 1960.

Nat Farbman/Life Pictures/Shutterstock

Slalom silver medalist Betsy Snite (USA), Squaw Valley, 1960.

Slalom silver medalist Betsy Snite (USA), Squaw Valley, 1960.

Ralph Crane/Life Pictures/Shutterstock

American downhill skier Penny Pitou (silver medalist), Squaw Valley, 1960.

American downhill skier Penny Pitou (silver medalist), Squaw Valley, 1960.

Nat Farbman/Life Pictures/Shutterstock

American downhill skier Penny Pitou (silver medalist), Squaw Valley, 1960.

American downhill skier Penny Pitou (silver medalist), Squaw Valley, 1960.

Ralph Crane/Life Pictures/Shutterstock

Unidentified athlete, Squaw Valley, 1960.

Unidentified athlete, Squaw Valley, 1960.

George Silk/Life Pictures/Shutterstock

Figure skater Carol Heiss (gold medal, Ladies Singles), Squaw Valley, 1960.

Figure skater Carol Heiss (gold medal, Ladies Singles), Squaw Valley, 1960.

George Silk/Life Pictures/Shutterstock

Figure skater Carol Heiss (gold medal, Ladies Singles), Squaw Valley, 1960.

Figure skater Carol Heiss (gold medal, Ladies Singles), Squaw Valley, 1960.

Ralph Crane/Life Pictures/Shutterstock

Russian speed-skating gold medalist Lidiya Skoblikova (center), with Poland's Elwira Seroczynska (left, silver) and Helena Pilejczyk (right, bronze), 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.

Ralph Crane/Life Pictures/Shutterstock

Unidentified athlete, Innsbruck Olympics, 1964.

Unidentified athlete, Innsbruck Olympics, 1964.

George Silk/Life Pictures/Shutterstock

Unidentified athlete, Innsbruck Olympics, 1964.

Unidentified athlete, Innsbruck Olympics, 1964.

George Silk/Life Pictures/Shutterstock

American skier Jean Saubert (center) gets kisses from French downhill gold and silver medalists (and sisters), Christine and Marielle Goitschel, Innsbruck Olympics, 1964.

American skier Jean Saubert (center) received kisses from French downhill gold and silver medalists (and sisters), Christine and Marielle Goitschel, Innsbruck Olympics, 1964.

Ralph Crane/Life Pictures/Shutterstock

Unidentified athlete, Innsbruck Olympics, 1964.

Unidentified athlete, Innsbruck Olympics, 1964.

George Silk/Life Pictures/Shutterstock

Left to right: Christine Goitschel, Jean Saubert, and Marielle Goitschel, Innsbruck, 1964

Left to right: Christine Goitschel, Jean Saubert, and Marielle Goitschel, Innsbruck, 1964

George Silk/Life Pictures/Shutterstock

American speed skater and four-time Olympic medalist Dianne Holum, Grenoble Olympics, 1968.

American speed skater and four-time Olympic medalist Dianne Holum, Grenoble Olympics, 1968.

Art Rickerby/Life Pictures/Shutterstock

Unidentified athlete, Grenoble Olympics, 1968.

Unidentified athlete, Grenoble Olympics, 1968.

Art Rickerby/Life Pictures/Shutterstock

Three-time Olympic medalist Lyudmila Titova, speed skater, Grenoble Olympics, 1968.

Three-time Olympic medalist Lyudmila Titova, Russian speed skater, Grenoble Olympics, 1968.

Art Rickerby/Life Pictures/Shutterstock

American figure skater Peggy Fleming, Grenoble Olympics, 1968.

American figure skater Peggy Fleming, Grenoble Olympics, 1968.

Art Rickerby/Life Pictures/Shutterstock

Twelve-year-old Romanian figure skater Beatrice Hustiu, Grenoble Olympics, 1968.

Twelve-year-old Romanian figure skater Beatrice Hustiu, Grenoble Olympics, 1968.

Art Rickerby/Life Pictures/Shutterstock

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American figure skater Janet Lynn, Grenoble Olympics, 1968.

Art Rickerby/Life Pictures/Shutterstock

American figure skater Peggy Fleming, Grenoble Olympics, 1968.

American figure skater Peggy Fleming, Grenoble Olympics, 1968.

Art Rickerby/Life Pictures/Shutterstock

Peggy Fleming, gold medalist, Ladies Singles figure skating, Grenoble Olympics, 1968.

Peggy Fleming, gold medalist, Ladies Singles figure skating, Grenoble Olympics, 1968.

Art Rickerby/Life Pictures/Shutterstock

Anne Henning, 16, skating to victory in the 500-meter speed skating race at the Sapporo Winter Olympics, 1972.

Anne Henning, 16, won the 500-meter speed skating race at the Sapporo Winter Olympics, 1972.

George Silk/Life Pictures/Shutterstock

Figure skaters American Janet Lynn (bronze), Austrian Beatrix Schuba (gold) and Candian Karin Manguessen (silver), Sapporo Winter Olympics, 1972.

Figure skaters Janet Lynn (American, bronze), Beatrix Schuba (Austrian, gold) and Karin Manguessen (Canadian, silver), Sapporo Winter Olympics, 1972.

George Silk/Life Pictures/Shutterstock

American speed skater and four-time Olympic medalist Dianne Holum, Sapporo Winter Olympics, 1972.

George Silk/Life Pictures/Shutterstock

Women's luge, Sapporo Winter Olympics, 1972.

Women’s luge, Sapporo Winter Olympics, 1972.

John Dominis/Life Pictures/Shutterstock

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