Publish date:
Updated on

First Winter Olympics begin in Chamonix, France

On January 25, 1924, the first Winter Olympics kick off in the Alpine village of Chamonix, France. Originally conceived as “International Winter Sports Week,” the Chamonix games were held in association with the 1924 Summer Olympics, held in Paris, and boasted 258 athletes (247 men and 11 women) from 16 nations, competing in a total of 18 events.

In the opening ceremonies, held on January 25, the athletes gave their oaths of amateurism to Gaston Vidal, France’s under-secretary of state for physical education. They then marched with their teams in a parade from Chamonix’s City Hall to the Olympic ice skating rink. After Vidal declared the official opening of the games in front of around 5,000 spectators, 150 athletes took to the ice for a celebration. Top skaters from the U.S., Canada, Norway and Finland held an impromptu race around the rink, while a band played the national anthems of the participating nations: France, Belgium, Austria, Estonia, Latvia, Finland, Great Britain, Hungary, Italy, Poland, Norway, Sweden, Switzerland, Czechoslovakia, Canada and the United States.

Competition began the next day with the 500-meter speed skating event, won by the American Charlie Jewtraw. Finland and Norway dominated the Games overall, however, winning 28 of the 43 medals awarded. Leading performers included Clas Thunberg of Finland with five medals (three gold) in speed skating; Norway’s Roald Larsen with another five speed-skating medals (two silvers and three bronzes); and Thorleif Haug of Norway, with three gold medals in cross-country and Nordic combined skiing. The U.S. and Great Britain won four medals each, and Canada won their only medal of the games–a gold–in the ice hockey competition, defeating the U.S. 6-1 in the final.

In one of the most unexpected stories to come out of the first Winter Games, the Norwegian-born American ski jumper Anders Haugen, captain of the U.S. Olympic team, came in fourth, but was awarded the bronze medal a full 50 years later, when a mathematical error was discovered that would have put Haugen in third place.

FACT CHECK: We strive for accuracy and fairness. But if you see something that doesn't look right, click here to contact us!


First Winter Olympics

On January 25, 1924, the first Winter Olympics take off in style at Chamonix in the French Alps. Spectators were thrilled by the ski jump and bobsled as well as 12 other events involving a total of six sports. The “International Winter Sports Week,” as it was known, was a great more

Mao’s widow sentenced to death

Jiang Qing, the widow of Chinese leader Mao Zedong, is sentenced to death for her “counter-revolutionary crimes” during the Cultural Revolution. Originally an actress in Communist theater and film, her marriage to Mao in 1939 was widely criticized, as his second wife, Ho Zizhen, more

Near launching of Russian nukes

Russia’s early-warning defense radar detects an unexpected missile launch near Norway, and Russian military command estimates the missile to be only minutes from impact on Moscow. Moments later, Russian President Boris Yeltsin, his defense minister, and his chief of staff were more

Manson and followers convicted

In Los Angeles, California, cult leader Charles Manson is convicted, along with followers Susan Atkins, Leslie Van Houten, and Patricia Krenwinkle, of the brutal 1969 murders of actress Sharon Tate and six others. In 1967, Manson, a lifetime criminal, was released from a federal more

World’s largest diamond found

On January 25, 1905, at the Premier Mine in Pretoria, South Africa, a 3,106-carat diamond is discovered during a routine inspection by the mine’s superintendent. Weighing 1.33 pounds, and christened the “Cullinan,” it was the largest diamond ever found. Frederick Wells was 18 more

Pat Garrett leaves Louisiana

Pat Garrett, both celebrated and despised as the man who killed Billy the Kid, abandons a life of luxury in Louisiana and heads west. Born into a wealthy southern farming family in 1850, Patrick Floyd Garrett grew up in a world of privilege on a large Louisiana plantation. When more

Israeli sub vanishes

The Israeli submarine Dakar, carrying 69 sailors, disappears on this day in 1968 and is never seen again. The exact fate of this vessel remains a mystery to this day. The Dakar was built at the height of World War II by H.M. Dockyard in Great Britain and commissioned as the HMS more

BTK killer sends message

On January 25, 2005, a Wichita, Kansas, television station receives a postcard from the BTK killer that leads police to discover a Post Toasties cereal box that had been altered to contain the letters BTK. This communication was one in a long line sent by the serial killer who more

Burnside relieved of command

On this day in 1863,Union General Ambrose Burnside is removed as commander of the Army of the Potomac after serving in the role for two months. Burnside assumed command of the army after President Abraham Lincoln removed General George B. McClellan from command in November 1862. more