Little Bits of History

First Winter Olympics

Posted in History by patriciahysell on January 25, 2011

Poster for the Winter Games at Chamonix, France.

January 25, 1924: International Winter Sports Week opens in Chamonix, France. The competitions were held at the foot of Mont Blanc and were organized by the French Olympic Committee. They were held in association with the 1924 Summer Olympics. After the fact, the International Olympic Committee renamed them I Olympic Winter Games. From 1924 until 1992, winter games would be held in the same year as the Summer Games. Beginning in 1994, the Winter Games were held two years before the Summer Games.

Figure skating had been an Olympic event in London and Antwerp while ice hockey had been an event only at Antwerp. Winter sports were limited by the climate during the Summer Games. In 1921, the IOC began discussing a more equitable way to showcase winter sports. The results were these games held in France. Opening ceremonies were held on this day with the closing ceremony held on February 4 although the official end date is February 5. Medals were not awarded until February 5 and many athletes had already gone home, others collected their medals for them.

There were 16 events held in nine sports. The first gold medal was awarded for the 500-meter speed skate and went to American Charles Jewtraw. Sonja Henie from Norway was 11-years-old and came in last place in the ladies’ figure skating. She would go on to become a gold medalist for the next three Winter Olympics as well a six-time World Champion (1927-1936). She also became a movie star, based on her skating. The Canadian hockey team was awesome. They finished their qualifying round with 4 wins and scored 110 points through the four games. Their opponents, Switzerland, Czechoslovakia, Sweden, and Great Britain scored 3 points, total.

Norway took home 17 medals, four of them gold. Finland also got four gold medals and a total of 11 medals. The US and Great Britain each got four medals total (one gold each). There had been 258 athletes competing in the games, 11 women and 247 men. Anders Haugen, of America, competed in the ski jump. He should have received a bronze medal for his efforts. There was, however, an error in the marking. He pled his case and was eventually given the bronze – in 1974 when he was 83 years old.

“A good athlete always mentally replays a competition over and over, even in victory, to see what might be done to improve the performance the next time.” – Frank Shorter

“An athlete cannot run with money in his pockets. He must run with hope in his heart and dreams in his head.” – Emil Zatopek

“An athlete who tells you the training is always easy and always fun simply hasn’t been there. Goals can be elusive which makes the difficult journey all the more rewarding.” – Alberto Salazar

“And as a true athlete, mistakes haunt you forever.” – Jim Otto

Also on this day:
Moscow University – In 1755, Moscow University was established.
Shays’s Rebellion – In 1787, the Shays’s Rebellion heats up.


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  1. […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Rio Olympics and Rio Olympics, Gary Wilkerson. Gary Wilkerson said: First Winter Olympics: They were held in association with the 1924 Summer Olympics. After the fact, the Internat… […]

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