I have always preferred watching the winter Olympics. The ice skaters and dancers were so elegant and coordinated. I also enjoyed watching the ski jumpers for the split second they lose balance and wipe out.
I've often wondered when they started and why. I do know they started a bit later than the original Olympics. Although the first official Olympics began on January 25, 1924, there had been "Winter Olympic" type events held earlier.
In 1901, the first Nordic games were held in Sweden with only athletes from Scandinavian countries attended. This event was held every four years like the Olympics but only ever in Sweden. The first real winter Olympic event was held at the summer Olympics in London in 1908 but it was held three months after the rest of the events had concluded.
The International Olympic Committee proposed that Sweden hold the first Winter Olympics at the Sweden games in 1912 but not wanting to lose their Nordic Games, they declined. In addition, Germany wanted to host the 1916 Winter Olympics but World War I caused both games to be cancelled.
After the war, in 1920, Antwerp, Belgium hosted the Summer Olympics where ice hockey joined ice skating as an event held after every other event. Not long after, the Scandinavians agreed to hold a Winter Sports week in France which proved so popular that in 1925 the International Olympic Committee renamed it the Winter Olympics and designated the 1924 event as the first official Winter Olympics.
The first Winter Olympics held in Chaminox, France attracted 16 nations for as ski jumping, bob sledding, and four other events. Norway took the most metals while the United States came in third with their gold medal in the 500 meter speed skating event. Of the 300 competitors attending the event, only 13 were women who competed only in ice skating events. It was deemed a success when more than 10,000 people flocked to watch it.
Beginning in 1928, the Winter Olympics were moved so they were held the same year as the summer Olympics. This continued until 1989 when the costs became quite expensive so the International Olympic Committee changed the pattern so the Summer and Winter Olympics started alternating every two years beginning in 1994.
One sport, skeleton where a person lies face down on a sled received medals in 1928 and 1952 before becoming a regular Olympic sport in 2002. Although Curling was a part of the original Olympics, it was dropped until 1998 when it was reintroduced. Snowboarding was also added in 1998 as an Olympic Sport.
I hope you liked the short view of the Winter Olympics. Let me know what you think, I'd love to hear.