Nordic Games [Edit]

The Olympic Winter Games formally began in 1924 at Chamonix, although they were originally known as the Semaine internationale des sports d’hiver (International Winter Sports Week). Prior to that time, winter sports events had been held during the Summer Games of 1908 (figure skating) and 1920 (figure skating and ice hockey). But there existed an earlier international winter sports festival, the Nordic Games, which began in 1901. Suggested by Sweden’s Professor E. Johan Widmark, the initiative to hold Nordic Games was taken in 1899, the first ones being arranged in 1901. After this inaugural event in Stockholm, Sweden, Nordic Games were held in 1903, 1905, 1909, 1913, 1917, 1922, and 1926, always during February, mostly in Stockholm, only in 1903 in Kristiania (today Olso). They began, and were perpetuated, largely by the work of the influential Swedish sports administrator, Viktor Gustaf Balck. The Nordic Games were not without political problems, nor were they originally planned as precursors to the Olympic Winter Games, as often stated. In fact, despite Balck’s influential status on the International Olympic Committee (IOC), he and other Swedish and Norwegian sporting leaders opposed early suggestions to start Olympic Winter Games. The Olympic Winter Games themselves began only after several heated IOC debates concerning their merits. The Nordic Games ended after 1926, partly because of the growth of the Olympic Winter Games, partly because of Balck’s death and the loss of his leadership, and partly because of the growth of the Fédération Internationale de Ski.