Winter Olympic Games

Short History

     General Viktor Gustaf Balck from Sweden was a charter member of the IOC and a close friend of Olympic Games founder Pierre de Coubertin. He organised the Nordic Games from 1901 until 1926, and attempted to have winter sports added to the Olympic programme. That was unsuccessful until the 1908 Summer Olympics in London, when figure skating was part of the official program. Three years later, Italian Count Eugenio Brunetta d'Usseaux, a member of the IOC, suggested that Sweden should stage a week of winter sports as part of the 1912 Summer Olympics in Stockholm, but Sweden refused. The idea was resurrected for the 1916 Games, but the 1916 Olympics were cancelled after the outbreak of World War I.
     The first Olympics after the war, the 1920 Summer Olympics were held in Antwerp, and featured figure skating and ice hockey tournaments. At the IOC Congress held the following year it was decided that the host nation of the 1924 Summer Olympics, France, would host a separate International Winter Sports Week under the IOC, with Chamonix as host. After a huge success, in 1925 the IOC decided to create a separate winter event. St. Moritz was appointed to host the second Winter Games in 1928, and the 1924 Games in Chamonix was retroactively designated as the first Winter Olympics. The 1936 Games in Garmisch-Partenkirchen, was the last time the Summer and Winter Olympics were held in the same country in the same year.
     The 1940 Games, originally awarded to Sapporo, then to Garmisch-Partenkirchen, and the 1944 Games, originally scheduled for Cortina D'Ampezzo, were cancelled after the outbreak of World War II. Cortina d'Ampezzo was selected to organise the 1956 Games, and these were the first Winter Olympics to be televised, and the first Games ever broadcast to an international audience. In 1986 the IOC decided to place the Summer and Winter Games on separate four-year cycles in alternating even-numbered years. The 1992 Winter Games, in Albertville, were the last to be held in the same year as the Summer Games, and the 1994 Games, held in Lillehammer, were the first Games to be held separately from the Summer Olympics.
     In the 1998 Games in Nagano men's ice hockey tournament was opened to NHL players for the first time. The Winter Olympic Games have been hosted on three continents by twelve different countries. To date, Austria, Canada, Finland, France, Great Britain, Hungary, Italy, Norway, Poland, Sweden, Switzerland and the United States have participated in every Winter Olympic Games. Austria, Canada, Finland, Norway, Sweden and the United States have won medals at every Game, and the United States won a gold medal at every Game. Figure and speed skating, ice hockey, cross-country skiing, ski jumping, nordic combined and bobsleigh have been part of every Winter Olympic Games.