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The Winter Olympics: History of a Phenomenon

The Winter Olympics: History of a Phenomenon

Sochi Winter Olympics - Olympic Circles

The Winter Olympics are a phenomenon. They have millions of people rooted to their seats in front of their TVs, watching avidly from the moment the Olympic torch is lit to the end. Different sports, each with their favorite participants, keep people engaged every four years without fail. But how did the Winter Olympics start?

Before 1924, the Winter Olympics were represented by the Nordic Games that took place once every four years. Their organizer, General Viktor Gustaf Balck, wanted to add winter sports to the Olympic Games. He was successful in 1908 when, during the Summer Olympics that took place in London, the first figure skating Olympic competition took place. Ulrich Salchow, a 10 times World Champion was the winner of the male individual title. Madge Seyes was the female winner.

Vancouver Olympic Torch

The first Winter Olympics were first supposed to take place in 1916. However, due to the start of World War I, the idea was dropped. The first Summer Olympics after the War, held in 1920 in Antwerp, featured figure skating and even an ice hokey tournament. It was then decided that the country holding the 1924 Summer Olympic Games, France, would also hold a separate “International Winter Sports Week.” The event was a success! In 1925 it was decided that Winter Olympic Games would be held and the International  Winter Sports Week received this title.

The Second Winter Olympic Games took place in 1928 in St. Moritz, Switzerland. The games continued once every four years until World War II came. Then, the 1940 and 1944 Olympics were cancelled. The 1948 games returned to St. Moritz, Switzerland.

2014 saw the arrival of the 22nd edition of the Winter Olympic Games held in Sochi, Russia. The games will last from 7thFebruary to 23rd February. Are you going to watch the Winter Olympics?

Source: olympic.org; Images: wikipedia and Reuters

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Katie Zahel
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