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On This Date in Sports January 25, 1924: International Week of Winter Sport

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The first Winter Olympics begin in the city of Chamonix, France. Initially called the “International Week of Winter Sport” the ten-day event had 16 nations competing in 16 events. It was held in connection with the Summer Olympics and would later become retroactively the first Winter Olympics after the event was deemed a success. The Winter Olympics would join the Summer Olympics as a quadrennial event.

There had been a desire to have an international competition for winter sports for several years. Though the limits of winter sports created some reluctance at first from the International Olympic Committee. At the 1908 Summer Games in London, the first Olympic Figure Skating completion was held six months after the conclusion of the rest of the games. In 1920, Figure Skating was again held for the games in Antwerp, Belgium. This time they were competed for four months before the official start of the games, along with the first Olympic Ice Hockey Tournament. It was these two events that led to the desire to create a larger sports showcase for winter sports. With the 1924, Summer Games slated for Parris, the city of Chamonix in the French Alps became the city to host the first Winter Games.

A day after the Opening Ceremonies, the first medals were handed out with American Charles Jewtraw winning a Gold Medal in the 500M Speed Skate. It would be the only Gold Medal won the by the United States in the first Winter Olympics, they later added a Silver Medals in Women’s Figure Skating won by Beatrix Loughran and Ice Hockey. Anders Haugen would take home a Bronze Medal in Ski Jumping, to give Team USA a total of four medals. Canada’s lone medal naturally was a Gold Medal in Ice Hockey.

The most successful nation in the first Winter Olympics was Norway, who took home 17 over medals, including four Gold Medals, along with seven Silver Medals and six Bronze Medals. Finland also had four Gold Medals, and four Silver Medals and three Bronze Medals for a total of 11. It was a rather disappointing games for France, as they won just three Bronze Medals.

The International Week of Winter Sport was an overwhelming success that the International Olympic Committee agreed to hold every four years in combo with the Summer Games. Three of the first four Winter Olympics were held in the same country as the Summer Olympics, with the lone exception coming in 1928 when the Winter Games were held in St. Moritz, Switzerland, while the Summer Games were held in Amsterdam in the Netherlands. The Winter Olympics would be held every four years in leap years with the Summer Games until 1992, when it was decided to begin staggering the games and thus the 1994 games in Lillehammer, Norway began a new rotation. With Winter and Summer Olympics rotating ever two years.