Photo courtesy Chamonix 1924 Official Olympic Report, via Slate
We’re still two years away from the next Winter Olympics, but on this day in 1924, the very first Winter Olympics took place in Chamonix, France. After the opening ceremony on January 25th, there followed ten days of tournaments, some of which are still recognizable—ski jumping, curling—and some of which sound utterly baffling, such as the military patrol event (a short-lived entry which eventually evolved into today’s more familiar biathlon). Even the sports that have remained relatively unchanged have gone through huge alterations in terms of uniforms and equipment, as can be seen from the worryingly unprotected hockey team above.
258 athletes from 16 nations participated in the first games. There were several memorable highlights, including the Olympic figure skating debut of Norway’s Sonja Henie, who was only 11 years old at the time (she came last, but won gold at the next three Winter Olympics). America lays claim to the very first awarded gold medal, courtesy of speed-skater Charles Jewtraw. Sadly for the host country, France failed to win a single gold medal.
Liked this? Check out the 1948 Olympics in photos, or enjoy 15 epic images from the 2014 Sochi Winter Olympics.