|Competition type||Olympic Games|
|Number and Year||I / 1924|
|Host city||Chamonix, France (Venues)|
|Opening ceremony||24 January|
|Closing ceremony||5 February|
|Competition dates||26 January – 4 February|
|Participants||312 from 19 countries|
|Medal events||17 in 10 disciplines|
In 1908 at the London Olympics, figure skating events were held as part of the Olympic program. In 1920, figure skating again figured on the Olympic program and an ice hockey tournament was also held that year in Antwerpen. Between those two events, the IOC argued long and hard about the possibility of staging Olympic Winter Games. Strangely, the main dissenters to this idea were the Scandanavian countries because they did not want their Nordic Games to be undermined by Olympic Winter events.
With the 1916 Olympics scheduled for Berlin, the organizers arranged for a “Skiing Olympia” to be held in the Black Forest, consisting of nordic skiing events. The Games were never held because of World War I. In 1921, the IOC met and appeared to approve the idea of Winter Olympics. But Pierre de Coubertin ended the discussion when he stated that the idea was contrary to the decisions of the IOC. He recommended that the idea be tabled and be discussed in March 1922 at a winter sports congress, with the site to be determined. The congress never materialized.
But in June 1922, the French Olympic Committee did hold a congress in which representatives of skiing, skating, and ice hockey were present. They arranged to hold an International Winter Sports Week in Chamonix in early 1924, whose nickname was in French “Semaine internationale des sports d’hiver”.
The contests were not originally called the Olympic Games, but the opening speech, while not using the word Olympic in their title, did state that they were under the “high patronage of the International Olympic Committee”. In fact, the official French name for these Olympics was actually the pedantic “Les sports d’hiver à Chamonix Mont-Blanc par le Comité Olympique Français avec la collaboration de la Fédération Française des Sports d’Hiver et du Club Alpin Français sous le Haut Patronage du Comité International Olympique à l’occasion de la Célébration des Jeux de la VIIIème Olympiade”. On 27 May 1925, the IOC amended its charter to begin a cycle of Olympic Winter Games. The Chamonix events were never officially mentioned as the 1st Olympic Winter Games in this proclamation. It is felt, however, that this was an error of the secretary taking the minutes as the IOC has long since recognized the 1924 Chamonix events as the 1st Olympic Winter Games.
The Games opened with the athletes marching from the village of Chamonix to the Olympic skating rink, led by the French Blue Devil Marching Band. The competitions began with the 500-metre speed skating event, which was won by America’s Charley Jewtraw, the first gold medalist of the Olympic Winter Games. The 1924 Winter Olympics saw Clas Thunberg and Thorleif Haug crowned as multiple champions in skating and skiing, respectively. Gillis Grafström repeated his title in men’s figure skating which he had won at the Summer Games in Antwerpen in 1920. In women’s figure skating, Herma Planck-Szabo of Austria won the title but the 8th, and last, place finisher would later become the greatest women’s figure skater ever, Sonja Henie.
Although the Games were successful, they ran into financial difficulty. The costs are estimated at 3 million francs, but gate receipts were no more than 250,000 francs. The shortfall was eventually underwritten by the village of Chamonix, the Haute-Savoie department, and the French government.
No host city election took place. The Games were not declared the 1st Olympic Winter Games until after the fact.
|Officially opened by||Gaston Vidal||FRA||Under-Secretary for Physical Education|
|Taker of the Athlete's Oath||Camille Mandrillon||FRA||MSP|
|Alpinism||Figure Skating||Ski Jumping|
|Bobsleigh||Ice Hockey||Speed Skating|
|Cross Country Skiing||Military Ski Patrol|
|Jacob Tullin Thams||NOR||1||0||0||1|
|Charles Granville Bruce||GBR||1||0||0||1|