1928 Winter Olympics

Facts

Competition type Olympic Games
Host city (Venues)
Opening ceremony 11 February
Closing ceremony 17 February
Competition dates 11 – 19 February
Participants 460 from 25 countries
Medal events 14 in 8 disciplines
Other events 2 in 2 disciplines

Overview

The Swiss were well-prepared to bring the Olympic Winter Games to the famous winter resort of St. Moritz in 1928. But there was one political cloud that confronted the organizers. Since World War I, Germany had not been invited to the Olympic Games, but the IOC felt the 1928 St. Moritz Games would be the right time for Germany to re-enter the Olympic arena. But this was still greeted with hostility by the other nations, and the Belgian Olympic Committee actually protested German admission to the 1928 Olympic Winter Games. These would also be the first Olympic Games at which IOC President Henri de Baillet-Latour would preside, having replaced Baron de Coubertin in 1925.

With St. Moritz having had bobsled and skeleton runs for years, and with multiple skating rinks and lakes available, and the nearby mountains for skiing, the village needed to do minimal building in preparation for the Games. But the Swiss did construct the world’s highest ski jump especially for the 1928 Olympic Winter Games.

The 1928 Olympic Winter Games were highly successful but the organizers had to contend with poor weather. The Föhn, a strong wind coming down the leeward side of a mountain and carrying warm weather with it, postponed several events and forced the cancellation of one. On the morning of the 50 kilometre cross-country skiing, the temperature was about 0° C. (32° F.), but during the competition, the Föhn came in and temperatures rose to 25° C. (77° F.) in mid-day, playing havoc with the snow and waxing conditions.

Later that night, the warm weather brought rain that poured down and ruined the ski courses. Fortunately snow and frost over the next few days rescued them. But the Föhn affected several other events as well. In the 10,000 metre speed skating, the United States’ Irving Jaffee had the best time after the first few runs as the Föhn was bringing in warm weather and melting the rink. The event was halted because of the conditions and it was never restarted. Jaffee is listed by some American sources, incorrectly, as having won the event, but it actually was never contested to a conclusion. The 5-man bob race also brought the wrath of the Föhn, when the bob course was thawed and the four-run contest was shortened to only two runs.

The individual stars of the Games were Clas Thunberg, who won two more golds in speed skating; Johan Grøttumsbraaten, who won two nordic skiing golds; Gillis Grafström, who won his third consecutive figure skating title; and Sonja Henie, who won her first of three Olympic figure skating championships. But perhaps the real star of the 1928 Winter Olympics was the Canadian ice hockey leviathan that, in the absence of American participation, was unchallenged in winning the title with a goal margin of 38-0.

Bid process

Out of three Swiss cities St. Moritz was selected at the 25th IOC Session in Lisboa on 6 May 1926 by a vote of 22 in favor with one abstention. The other bidding cities were Davos and Engelberg.

Ceremonies

Officially opened by Edmund Schulthess (President)
Taker of the Athlete's Oath Hans Eidenbenz
Flagbearers Full list

Medal Disciplines

Bobsleigh Ice Hockey Ski Jumping
Cross Country Skiing Nordic Combined Speed Skating
Figure Skating Skeleton

Other Disciplines

Military Ski Patrol Skijoring

Medal table

NOC Gold Silver Bronze Total
Norway NOR 6 4 5 15
United States USA 2 2 2 6
Sweden SWE 2 2 1 5
Finland FIN 2 1 1 4
Canada CAN 1 0 0 1
France FRA 1 0 0 1
Austria AUT 0 3 1 4
Belgium BEL 0 0 1 1
Czechoslovakia TCH 0 0 1 1
Germany GER 0 0 1 1
Great Britain GBR 0 0 1 1
Switzerland SUI 0 0 1 1

Most successful competitors

Athlete Nat Gold Silver Bronze Total
Johan Grøttumsbraaten NOR 2 0 0 2
Clas Thunberg FIN 2 0 0 2
Bernt Evensen NOR 1 1 1 3
Jennison Heaton USA 1 1 0 2
Ivar Ballangrud NOR 1 0 1 2
Sonja Henie NOR 1 0 0 1
Andrée Brunet-Joly FRA 1 0 0 1
Alf Andersen NOR 1 0 0 1
Pierre Brunet FRA 1 0 0 1
Charlie Delahey CAN 1 0 0 1
Frank Fisher CAN 1 0 0 1
Billy Fiske USA 1 0 0 1
Gillis Grafström SWE 1 0 0 1
Cliff Gray USA 1 0 0 1
Per Erik Hedlund SWE 1 0 0 1
Lou Hudson CAN 1 0 0 1
Geoffrey Mason USA 1 0 0 1
Stuffy Mueller CAN 1 0 0 1
Dick Parke USA 1 0 0 1
Bert Plaxton CAN 1 0 0 1
Hugh Plaxton CAN 1 0 0 1
Rod Plaxton CAN 1 0 0 1
Jack Porter CAN 1 0 0 1
Frank Sullivan CAN 1 0 0 1
Joe Sullivan CAN 1 0 0 1
Ross Taylor CAN 1 0 0 1
Dave Trottier CAN 1 0 0 1
Nion Tucker USA 1 0 0 1

All medalists at these Games