Poster for the 1924 Winter Olympic Games

Poster for the 1924 Winter Olympic Games

On January 25, 1924, the first Winter Olympics take off in style at Chamonix in the French Alps.

Scenic View near Chamonix in the French Alpes, Rhône-Alpes - See more at: http://www.hunt-a-home.com/france-area-guide/rhone-alpes.php#sthash.7EySUVTX.dpuf

Scenic View near Chamonix in the French Alpes, Rhône-Alpes – See more at: http://www.hunt-a-home.com/france-area-guide/rhone-alpes.php#sthash.7EySUVTX.dpuf

Spectators were thrilled by the ski jump and bobsled as well as 12 other events involving a total of six sports. The “International Winter Sports Week,” as it was known, was a great success, and in 1928 the International Olympic Committee (IOC) officially designated the Winter Games, staged in St. Moritz, Switzerland, as the second Winter Olympics.

1928 Winter Olympic Poster

1928 Winter Olympic Poster

Five years after the birth of the modern Olympics in 1896, the first organized international competition involving winter sports was staged in Sweden. Called the Nordic Games, only Scandinavian countries competed. Like the Olympics, it was staged thereon every four years but always in Sweden.

The first bandy match in Sweden. The match was played during the nordic games 1901 in Nybroviken.

The first bandy match in Sweden. The match was played during the nordic games 1901 in Nybroviken.

In 1908, figure skating made its way into the Summer Olympics in London, though it was not actually held until October, some three months after the other events were over.

Anna Hubler and Heinrich Burger, who captured the pairs figure skating competition at the 1908 Summer Olympics. (The Fourth Olympiad London 1908 Official Report)

Anna Hubler and Heinrich Burger, who captured the pairs figure skating competition at the 1908 Summer Olympics. (The Fourth Olympiad London 1908 Official Report)

In 1911, the IOC proposed the staging of a separate winter competition for the 1912 Stockholm Games, but Sweden, wanting to protect the popularity of the Nordic Games, declined. Germany planned a Winter Olympics to precede the 1916 Berlin Summer Games, but World War I forced the cancellation of both. At the 1920 Olympics in Antwerp, Belgium, ice hockey joined figure skating as an official Olympic event, and Canada took home the first of many hockey gold medals.

The Winnipeg Falcons represented Canada at the 1920 Olympics in Antwerp, Belgium. Photo: HHoF

The Winnipeg Falcons represented Canada at the 1920 Olympics in Antwerp, Belgium. Photo: HHoF

Soon after, an agreement was reached with Scandinavians to stage the IOC-sanctioned International Winter Sports Week. It was so popular among the 16 participating nations that, in 1925, the IOC formally created the Winter Olympics, retroactively making Chamonix the first.

In Chamonix, Scandinavians dominated the speed rinks and slopes, and Norway won the unofficial team competition with 17 medals.

In Chamonix, Scandinavians dominated the speed rinks and slopes, and Norway won the unofficial team competition with 17 medals.

In Chamonix, Scandinavians dominated the speed rinks and slopes, and Norway won the unofficial team competition with 17 medals.

1924:American skater Charles Jewtraw wins the 500-meter speed skating event and takes home the first gold medal of the inaugural Winter Olympic Games,

1924:American skater Charles Jewtraw wins the 500-meter speed skating event and takes home the first gold medal of the inaugural Winter Olympic Games,

The United States came in third, winning its only gold medal with Charles Jewtraw’s victory in the 500-meter speed-skating event.

Team Canada, 1924 Hockey Gold Medalists

Team Canada, 1924 Hockey Gold Medalists

Canada won another hockey gold, scoring 110 goals and allowing just three goals in five games. Of the nearly 300 athletes, only 13 were women, and they only competed in the figure-skating events. Austrian Helene Engelmann won the pairs competition with Alfred Berger, and Austrian Herma Planck Szabo won the women’s singles.

Herma Szabo of Austria highlighted an already successful figure skating career (seven World titles) with the first Olympic ladies' singles gold medal

Herma Szabo of Austria highlighted an already successful figure skating career (seven World titles) with the first Olympic ladies’ singles gold medal

The Olympics offered a particular boost to skiing, a sport that would make enormous strides within the next decade. At Chamonix, Norway won all but one of the nine skiing medals.

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3 responses

  1. Great photos. The eagle on the poster makes it look like it’s for a dictatorial regime or something along those lines!

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