Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Winter Olympics

Snow! Chill in the air! People sledding down incredibly slick tracks face first! It can only mean one thing: the Winter Games are almost upon us!

The first Winter Games were held in Chamonix in 1924, but nobody knew it at the time. What?

It appears we are at the Winter Olympics, my dear.

Basically, the IOC held a "Nordic week" at the 1924 Olympic Games. Previously, figure skating and hockey had both appeared at the Olympics, but it had become clear that a new approach was needed. Perhaps a week all to themselves? How about eleven days that we'll call a week? Perfect.

Bobsledding was a lot more dangerous back in those days. For one thing, there were GIANT EAGLES clearly bent on killing. Also, no helmets.

From there, it was only a matter of time before the Winter Games became their own event. And once that had happened, why not retroactively declare that "Nordic Week" had actually been the first Winter Games? In fact, why not retroactively declare Pierre de Coubertin King of Everything Forever?

Pierre de Coubertin


However they began, we here at Mount Olymics are glad the Winter Games persevered. (And not just because I gets a huge crush on the speed skaters every single time.) Winter sports showcase a rare instance of athleticism in sync with the natural (or semi-natural) world. You can't ski without snow. You can't skate without ice. And you can't win without understanding that your fate is, in some inextricable way, tied to that of the natural world. Fantastic.

Photo credits:
Gillis Gafstrom, a Swedish figure skater Gillis Grafström and Norwegian Sonja Henie, 1924.
Poster from Chamonix games, complete with terrifying eagle.

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