Edmonton is the City of Champions. World-class sporting events are nothing new to Edmonton, which played host to the 1978 Commonwealth Games, the 1983 World University Games, 1996 Firefighter Games, 1996 World Figure Skating Championships, the 1984 and 1987 Grey Cup games, the 1999 Labatt Brier and the 2001 IAAF World Championships. Edmonton`s storied sports history dates back to its earliest days. In 1913 John Hougan shattered the Canadian ski jump record with a leap of 19 feet off Connor`s Hill. In 1948 the Edmonton Flyers brought the city its first major hockey title, winning the Allan Cup as national senior champions. Four years later the Edmonton Waterloo Mercurys were crowned Olympic hockey champions in Oslo, Norway, and in 1954 the Edmonton Eskimos won the first of three straight Grey Cups in the Canadian Football League. The Eskimos built another dynasty between 1978-82, winning the Grey Cup every season. Major league hockey arrived in Edmonton in 1972 when the Alberta Oilers became charter members in the World Hockey Association (WHA).
The team was re-christened `Edmonton` Oilers the following season, and in 1978 the club purchased teenage superstar Wayne Gretzky from the Indianapolis Racers. Led by Gretzky, the Oilers won four Stanley Cup championships between 1984 and 1988, then again in 1990 two years after Gretzky was traded to the Los Angeles Kings. The decade of the 90s saw more sporting glory for Edmonton, with the Trappers winning back-to-back Pacific Coast League baseball championships in 1996 and 1997 and bobsleigher Pierre Leuders bringing home Olympic gold from Nagano, Japan, in 1998. Edmonton is the first North American city to host the IAAF World Championships In Athletics. Over 3,000 athletes, coaches and officials called Edmonton home for 10 days in August 2001, while the drama of the third largest sporting event in the world, behind the World Cup of Soccer and the Summer Olympics, was played out. Organizers estimated that four billion people watched the 10-day event.