1924

DestinAsian - - FLASHBACK - —James Louie

The Win­ter Olympics have come a long way since the very first edi­tion, then known as In­ter­na­tional Win­ter Sports Week, was held al­most a cen­tury ago in the French Alpine re­sort town of Cha­monix. A far cry from the pomp and pageantry as­so­ci­ated with to­day’s multi­bil­lion-dol­lar games, that af­fair in­volved just 16 coun­tries send­ing am­a­teur ath­letes to com­pete in nine dis­ci­plines. Apart from the rudi­men­tary bob­sleds and curl­ing brooms, another ma­jor dif­fer­ence was the sport­ing dress of the time, as evinced by the Amer­i­can speed skat­ing team shown here, and the long, baggy skirts worn by most fe­male fig­ure skaters. Aus­tria’s Herma Sz­abo bucked the trend— she per­formed in a skirt cut above the knee—as did the 11-year-old Nor­we­gian Sonja He­nie, who would later go on to be­come a three-time Olympic cham­pion. One thing that hasn’t changed? The ob­ses­sion over medal counts. In Cha­monix, France had the un­for­tu­nate dis­tinc­tion of be­ing the first Olympic host nation not to win any gold medals. For high-achiev­ing South Korea, that won’t be an op­tion when it hosts the games in Pyeongchang next year.

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