Originally named the “International Winter Sports Week” the January 25th, 1924 games saw some 10,004 spectators grace Chamonix, in the French Alps. With the event being such a huge success, the International Olympic Committee (IOC) decided to go forward with the Winter Olympics!
Sweden had been hosting it’s “Nordic Games” since 1896. Just like the Olympics, this was hosted every 4 years, but only for Scandinavian countries.
Once figure skating joined the line up for the 1908 Summer Olympics, interest in the colder events began to peak. Wanting to capitalise on this new found attention, the IOC proposed hosting a separate event, solely for the Winter Sports. However, Sweden, proud and protective over the Nordic Games, declined to attend.
Germany decided to go ahead and plan both the Summer and Winter Olympics in 1916. This was doomed never to go ahead as World War 1 put a cancelation to both.
1920 saw the return of the Olympics in Antwerp, Belgium. This is where ice hockey joined the line up. Canada stole the show. Taking home the first of many of it’s hockey gold medals.
No longer able to deny the popularity that the world stage was bringing to the Winter Sports, Sweden and the Scandinavians come to an agreement with the Winter Olympics. 16 nations took part in the first event, competing in 6 categories of sport. This included bobsled, curling, Nordic skiing and skating. Nowadays, 93 nations take part in 15 categories.
The original 6 are still their, joined by snowboarding, luge and skeleton. Not sure what these are? You don’t have too long to wait to find out. The next Winter Olympics will be help on February 4th – 20th 2022 in Beijing.
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