(STACKER) – The first Winter Olympics, then called International Winter Sports Week, were held from January 25 to February 5, 1924 in the small French town of Chamonix. The multi-sport event brought together 260 athletes representing 16 countries in five sports: bobsleigh, curling, ice hockey, Nordic skiing and skating. Chamonix emerged from obscurity and into the spotlight as athletes publicly showed off their skills in various competitions ranging from figure skating to cross-country skiing in front of over 10,000 spectators. In 1926, the event was retroactively reclassified as the first ever Winter Olympics.
Stacker curated a collection of 25 vintage photos from the competition, drawing from a variety of sources to showcase groundbreaking sporting milestones and sporting visionaries.
Among the nations participating in the first Winter Olympics were France, the United States, Canada, Norway, Italy, Great Britain, Poland and Yugoslavia. The United States dominated the 500 meter speed skating event, while Canada had several victories in ice hockey. The 1920s was also a time when women and young girls had more freedom to play sports, even if it was a predictable winter sport like figure skating. Photos in this collection show the excitement of the Games, stunning scenery and the surprisingly rare equipment of athletes, including ice hockey players and bobsled teams who compete without helmets.
The Winter Games were held every four years thereafter, stopping in 1940 and 1944 due to World War II. The Olympic programs were changed in the 1990s, and over the years more and more sports and competitions were added, including luge, freestyle skiing and snowboarding. Keep reading to learn more about the first Winter Olympics and to see some great photos from the various events.
Delegates gather for the opening ceremony
In this photo, delegates from the competing nations gather on January 25, 1924 in front of the church and town hall of Saint-Michel for the opening ceremony of the 1924 Winter Olympics in Chamonix, France. The very first games, appropriately held in the French Alps, were originally referred to as “International Winter Sports Week”.
Italian athletes at the inaugural parade
Italian athletes stand proud as they watch the inaugural parade on February 10, 1924. Italy sent 23 men to compete in four sports; the athletes did not win any medals. Italy has hosted two Winter Olympics: the 1956 Winter Games in Cortina d’Ampezzo and the 2006 Winter Games in Turin. The country is set to host the 2026 Winter Olympics again.
A pledge of sportsmanship
French athletes are seen pledging to compete in the games with integrity at the opening of the 1924 Winter Olympics.
American skaters practice
A group of American speed skaters preparing to compete at the 1924 Winter Games. Five all-male speed skating events were held.
10,000 meter speed skating begins
Spectators eagerly gather at the start of the 10,000 meter speed skating competition at the Winter Games.
500 meter speed skate
Speed skater Charles Jewtraw represented the United States in the men’s 500 meter speed skating competition.
First American Winter Olympian
Charles Jewtraw became the first American speed skater to win a gold medal, winning the 500 meter speed skating competition at the 1924 Winter Olympics in Chamonix, France. Jewtraw’s historic victory established the American record and in 1963 the Olympian was inducted into the National Speed Skating Hall of Fame in Chicago.
Figure Skating Ladies Singles
Eleven-year-old Norwegian actress and figure skater Sonja Henie competes in the ladies’ singles figure skating competition at the Olympic Stadium. Henie had already won the Norwegian senior championships when she was 10 years old.
Women’s Figure Skating
Austrian figure skater Herma Planck-Szabo glides to victory, winning the gold medal in the ladies’ singles. Planck-Szabo was a powerhouse on the figure skating scene in the 1920s, having won five world titles.
Doubles Figure Skating
Belgian figure skaters Georgette Herbos and Georges Wagemans skate together on the ice rink.
Skaters pose for a group photo
Figure skaters Herma Planck-Szabo of Austria (gold), Beatrix Loughran of the United States (silver) and Ethel Muckelt of Great Britain (bronze) pose together for a photo on January 30, 1924.
ready to play
Members of the US Olympic Hockey Team take a moment to take photos before practice. The American team triumphed in its first match against France.
american hockey training
In this photo, Alphonse Albert Lacroix, goaltender for the United States hockey team, practices for the 1924 Winter Games.
Last hockey game of the Winter Olympics
In this photo, Team Canada scores a victorious victory over Team USA in the final Olympic hockey game.
Canadian team scores
The Canadian ice hockey team the Toronto Granites make their final score, securing a victory over the United States in the final 6-1 to win the gold medal.
A winning team
Canada’s men’s ice hockey team stands tall and proud after winning gold.
Getting into position
In this photo, the Olympians set off on the bobsleigh track, Pellerins Bobsleigh Track, a starting point specially built for the 1924 Winter Games.
Swiss bobsleigh team
The Swiss bobsleigh team battles its way to the first-ever gold medal in the four-man event.
The British team take a turn
The British four-man bobsleigh team, consisting of Alexander Richardson, Ralph Broome, Thomas Arnold and Rodney Soher, won the silver medal at the Olympics.
The British curling team won gold in the first curling event; Sweden won the silver and France the bronze medal.
In preparation for the 18 kilometer cross
Czech cross-country skier Štěpán Hevák prepares to compete in the men’s 18 kilometer event.
The Chamonix ski jump
Participants admire mountain views during the 1924 Winter Olympics.
Nordic combined take-off
Czechoslovakian skier Josef Bím finished 13th in Nordic combined and 26th in ski jumping.
Norwegian ski jumpers
Pictured here are Norwegian Olympians Jacob Tullin Thams, who won the first gold medal in ski jumping; Narve Bonna, who won the first silver medal in ski jumping; and Einar Lanvik, who placed fifth.
First ski jumping gold medalist in action
Jacob Tullin Thams soars through the air, attracting dozens of spectators during his competition on February 4, 1924. The Norwegian athlete, who won the first Olympic gold medal in ski jumping, is captured here using a technique he created called the Kongsbergwhich is still widely used in sports today.