It Started With Skating: The Winter Olympics

The Winter Olympics began to take shape in 1908 when figure skating made its first appearance at London’s Summer Olympics. Since it was hot, organizers decided it was best to have winter sports during the winter. In 1924, the first unofficial (at the time) Winter Olympics games were held in Chamonix, France. Held for 11 days, it proved to be a huge success.  Sixteen nations participated, with 258 athletes (11 women, 258 men) competing in 16 events. The first gold medal winner was Charles Jewtraw of the United States, in speed skating, who won the 500m with a time of 44 seconds. The Canadian hockey team won all of their games, outscoring their opponents 110 to 3! In 1925, the IOC decided to create a separate Olympic Winter Games. The 1924 Games in Chamonix were then retroactively designated the “First” Winter Olympic” games. 

The Winter Olympics were suspended during WWII, in both 1940 and 1944. They continue this year in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada from February 12-28. What started as 11 days and 16 events is now two weeks long with 86 medal events.  There are now 5500 athletes and officials and 80+ countries participating. The Winter Paralympics are also held at this time with 1350 athletes and officials and 40+ countries!

You can visit the Official Olympics Website for information on the history of both the summer and winter games. There is information on future games and historical information too. The Official Website of the 2010 Vancouver Olympics  has some fascinating facts, figures, general information, and much more on events and athletes that will be competing this year.  There is a section on the Paralympic Games and you can also view ticket buyiing information and visit the Olympics store.

The Fountaindale Library also has some great books on the Winter Olympics.  For example, there are   The Complete Book of the Winter Olympics and Frozen in Time: The Greatest Moments at the Winter Olympics . We also have many books on the individual sports located in our Adult, Young Adult and Childrens Departments.

-Christine J.

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