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Today In History : January 25, 2022

On This Day In History
On January 25, 1924, the first Winter Olympics began at Chamonix in the French Alps. The “International Winter Sports Week,” featured a ski jump, a bobsled race, and twelve other events. It was such a success that in 1928 the International Olympic Committee (IOC) officially designated the Winter Games, staged in St. Moritz, Switzerland, as the second Winter Olympics.

There had been international winter sporting events since 1901. However the Nordic Games were limited to Scandinavian countries. Figure skating was added to the Summer Olympics in 1908, but the events were not held at the same time as the rest of the Olympic games. Similarly, at the 1920 Olympics in Antwerp, Belgium, ice hockey was added as an official Olympic event.

The IOC proposed a separate set of winter games in 1911. Sweden would not allow them to pre-empt the Nordic Games in 1912. Germany planned a winter Olympics to take place before the 1916 Berlin Olympics, but had to cancel both events because of the first world war. Soon after the 1920 Antwerp Olympics, the Scandinavian countries and the IOC came to an agreement that the International Sports Week would be staged. Sixteen countries participated. The event was so popular, in 1925 the IOC formally created the Winter Olympics, and retroactively made the 1924 games in Chamonix the first.

At the first Winter Olympics, Scandinavians, especially Norway, dominated speed skating and skiing, but Canada dominated in ice hockey. The 13 women – out of about 300 competitors – all competed in figure skating events. In terms of gender equality, the Winter Olympics has evolved at a similar pace to Summer Olympics. Women athletes are still most prominent on the skating rinks. However, there are also women’s competitions in other events, including skiing.

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