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100 Years Since the First Winter Olympics

Authored by Alice Broome
Published on 25th January, 2024 2 min read

100 Years Since the First Winter Olympics

Today (25/01/2024) marks 100 years since the start of the first Winter Olympics, held in Chamonix, France. 

Originally called the “International Winter Sports Week of Chamonix-Mont-Blanc”, in 1926 the event was retrospectively renamed the “First Winter Olympic Games” due to its success. Despite having the same name, the first Winter Olympics looked drastically different to the international multi-sport event that we know today as the Winter Olympics. For starters, only six sports featured: bobsleigh, curling, ice hockey, Nordic skiing, figure skating, and ski jumping. Only 258 athletes competed from 16 teams over 16 events. The countries represented were Austria, Belgium, Canada, Czechoslovakia, Estonia, Finland, France, Great Britain, Italy, Lithuania, Norway, Poland, Sweden, Switzerland, the USA, and Yugoslavia.

Interestingly, the past achievements of individual competitors were not the only factor taken into consideration when countries selected their teams. They had to ensure that athletes could take several weeks off work and that they could pay for their costs towards competing, including paying for their transport to Chamonix. 

The games proved highly popular, with an estimated 10,000 spectators attending them. Ice hockey proved the most popular: the final between the United States and Canada attracted 2,003 paying spectators. Canada took home the gold medal, beating the United States 6-1. On their way to the final the Canadian team had victories over Great Britain (19-2), Czechoslovakia (30-0), Sweden (22-0), and Switzerland (33-0).

The first Winter Olympics closed on 5 February 1924 with an awards ceremony. Some athletes had already returned home to their jobs, so their medals were presented to their fellow teammates in their absence. Norway topped the medal table, with a total of 17 medals. Great Britain were third, with a total of five medals — the country’s best result at a Winter Olympics until Sochi 2014.

Authored by Alice Broome

Alice Broome

Alice Broome is an Editorial Assistant at British Online Archives. She is a Philosophy, Politics, and Economics graduate from the University of York.

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The British Online Archives Notable Days diary is a platform intended to mark key dates and events throughout the year. The posts draw attention to historical events and figures, as well as recurring cultural traditions and international awareness days, in both religious and secular contexts.

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