Nordic Combined Factsheets

Olympic History:          Nordic combined consists of a cross-country ski race and ski jumping. It was considered the most important Nordic skiing event by the Scandinavians, and has been held at the Olympic Winter Games since the start in 1924. Nordic combined is actually considered, for Olympic purposes, as a discipline of skiing, or more precisely of Nordic skiing. World Championships have been conducted in Nordic combined since 1925 and it has been part of the Holmenkollen Ski Festival since 1892.

Even including 2014, Nordic combined remains the only discipline at the Olympic Winter Games in which women do not compete. Women simply do not compete in this discipline at the international level. There are no official World Championships or World Cups for women and it is not held at Holmenkollen for women. However, some recent articles have described training camps for women in Nordic combined, notably in Russia.

As of 2010, the number of events has grown to three, all for men only, with two individual events and a team event. The two individual Nordic combined events were changed for the 2010 Winter Olympics. From 1924-84, only one Nordic combined event was contested at the Winter Olympics, an individual event over 15 km (or 18 km in the early years), and ski jumping from the normal hill, usually allowing two, sometimes three, jumps. In 1988 the team event was added, which originally had three competitors per team, racing a relay of 3 x 10 km, but in 1998 was changed to four competitors per team, with a relay of 4 x 5 km. In 2002 and 2006 a second individual event was contested, termed the sprint event, which consisted of a 7.5 km cross-country race and a single jump from the large hill.

In 2010 the two individual events were changed to a similar format of a 10 km ski race and a single jump, either from the normal hill or large hill. In each cross-country race, the ski jumping leader starts first, with the other competitors starting behind him using the Gunderson method, with the delay between skiiers determined by the difference in ski jumping points.

As with all skiing disciplines and events, Nordic combined is governed by the Fédération Internationale de Ski (FIS). The FIS governs what it terms six disciplines of skiing – alpine skiing, cross-country skiing, ski jumping, Nordic combined, freestyle skiing, and snowboarding.  Cross-country, ski jumping, and Nordic combined are often termed one sport of Nordic skiing. As of November 2013, there are 120 member nations affiliated to the FIS.  This makes it the largest International Sporting Federation for any winter sport.

The 120 member nations of FIS are as follows: Albania, Algeria, American Samoa, Andorra, Argentina, Armenia, Australia, Austria, Azerbaijan, Bahamas, Barbados, Belarus, Belgium, Bermuda, Bolivia, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Brazil, British Virgin Islands, Bulgaria, Cameroon, Canada, Cayman Islands, Chile, China, Chinese Taipei, Colombia, Costa Rica, Croatia, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, Dominica, DPR Korea (North), Egypt, El Salvador, Eritrea, Estonia, Ethiopia, Fiji, Finland, Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, France, Georgia, Germany, Ghana, Great Britain, Greece, Grenada, Guatemala, Guyana, Haiti, Honduras, Hong Kong, Hungary, Iceland, India, Iran, Ireland, Israel, Italy, Jamaica, Japan, Kazakhstan, Kenya, Korea, Kosova, Kuwait, Kyrgyzstan, Latvia, Lebanon, Lesotho, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Madagascar, Malta, Marocco, Mexico, Moldova, Monaco, Mongolia, Montenegro, Nepal, Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Pakistan, Palestine, Paraguay, Peru, Philippines, Poland, Portugal, Puerto Rico, Rumania, Russia, San Marino, Senegal, Serbia, Slovakia, Slovenia, South Africa, Spain, Sudan, Swaziland, Sweden, Switzerland, Tajikistan, Thailand, Timor-Leste, Togo, Trinidad & Tobago, Turkey, Ukraine, United States of America, Uruguay, US Virgin Islands, Uzbekistan, Venezuela, and Zimbabwe. Only Kosovo is not an IOC Member nation.

Curling Factsheets

Olympic History:          Curling is a sport played on ice in which players deliver a large stone towards a bulls-eye-type target.  The game is played by two teams of four players each.  One player delivers the stone by hand, while the other three players run in front of it, sweeping the ice to clear it and allow it a clear path to the target.  The ice on which the game is played is called a rink, and the same name is used for the teams.  Teams score points if their stones are closer to the center of the target, called the tee, than the opposing team’s stones.  The game is basically shuffleboard on ice.  The stones weigh approximately 42 lbs. (19 kg.) and are made of granite, with the best ones harvested from a granite formation on Ailsa Craig, a small uninhabited island off the west coast of Scotland, owned by the 8th Marquess of Ailsa (the island is now for sale for $2.4 million [US]).

Curling was developed in Scotland as early as the 16th century, although some evidence exists that it developed in the Low Countries of Europe at about the same time.  The first known curling club was the Royal Caledonian Curling Club, formed in 1843 and originally called the Grand Caledonian Curling Club.  During the 19th century, curling spread to many nations of Europe, as well as the United States, New Zealand, and especially, Canada.  In Canada, curling became very popular in the prairie provinces of Manitoba, Saskatchewan, and Alberta.

Curling was a demonstration sport at the 1932, 1988, and 1992 Olympic Winter Games.  Until recently, it was also considered to have been demonstrated at the 1924 Olympic Winter Games in Chamonix, but more recent evidence makes it apparent that the sport was on the full Olympic program and we give that 1924 sport full Olympic status below.  In 1936 and 1964, German curling (Eisschießen) was also a demonstration sport at the Olympic Winter Games. Curling returned to the Olympic Winter program in 1998 at Nagano, with a tournament for both men and women. World Championships have been contested for men since 1959 and for women since 1979.

The International Curling Federation (ICF) was created after a meeting in March 1965, organized by the Royal Caledonian Curling Club.  Six nations attended the meeting in Perth, Scotland; Canada, Norway, Scotland, Sweden, Switzerland, and the United States.  The ICF was formed the next year with seven founding nations, with France added to the above six.  The name of the organization was changed to the World Curling Federation in 1991.

The WCF has 53 nations affiliated with it as of November 2013.  This makes it the smallest IF of any IOC-recognized sport, winter or summer.  The nations currently affiliated with the WCF are as follows:  Andorra, Armenia, Australia, Austria, Belarus, Belgium, Brazil, Bulgaria, Canada, China, Chinese Taipei, Croatia, Czech Republic, Denmark, England, Estonia, Finland, France, Georgia, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Ireland, Israel, Italy, Japan, Kazakhstan, Korea, Kosovo, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Mongolia, Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Poland, Romania, Russia, Scotland, Serbia, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Turkey, Ukraine, United States, US Virgin Islands, and Wales. All are IOC Members except for Kosovo, and the British countries of England, Scotland and Wales have separate national memberships.

The forgotten gold medal

 Back in 2006, The Herald (Glasgow) started an investigation into the 1924 Olympic curling competition. While the British team (all from the RCCC in Perth, Scotland) had won the event and had earned the same medals as other competitors, the event was later frequently listed as a demonstration sport, and it was not included on the IOC website. The IOC resolved this issue in 2006, reconfirming 82 years after the fact that the Scotsmen were in fact Olympic champions. They also resolved another gold medal from Chamonix Games, although this largely went unnoticed.

The 1924 Winter Olympics were, at that time, not officially called Winter Olympics, although many newspapers referred to them that way at the time. They were an experiment, held under supervision of the IOC and staged by the same organization that ran the Summer Olympics in Paris later that year. Only in 1926, with the experiment deemed a success, were these events officially recognized as Olympic. For two sports, however, the winners disappeared from the record books. In both cases, this is likely because they did not return as medal sports in 1928. Curling, for example, only became a medal sport again in 1998, although it was demonstrated in 1932, 1988 and 1992 (and the related German eisstockschießen was demonstrated in 1936 and 1964).

The second sport that fell into oblivion was the military ski patrol. This competition can be considered a forerunner of modern day biathlon, which became Olympic in 1960. It consisted of a four-man team – all of them soldiers – who would ski a 30 km course. Along the way, there were 18 targets set up at 250 m from the course. Three skiers were allowed to take shots; every hit would mean 30 seconds subtracted from the finishing time.  A variant of this competition would later also be held in biathlon, called the team event (not to be confused with the relay).

In Chamonix, the Swiss team won the gold medal. The quartet had the fastest time, and hit 8 targets. While the Finnish group managed 11 targets, their time was not fast enough to threaten the Swiss gold. France placed third with a team that featured Camille Mandrillon, taker of the Olympic oath at those Games.

In 1928, the military ski patrol returned to the Olympics, but this time it was marked as a demonstration sport. The Swiss attempted to defend their title, but were bested by Norway and Finland. The 1936 edition was won by the Italians, who narroly defeated Finland, with Sweden in third. The sport’s final appearance came in 1948. The Swiss repeated their 1924 victory, while Finland placed second for the fourth time, Sweden again taking third place. None of these events held medal status, but a more modern version of the sport, biathlon, was held in Squaw Valley and has been part of the Winter Games since.

Snowboarding Factsheets

Olympic History:  Snowboarding is a sport combining elements of surfing, skateboarding, and skiing.  The snowboarders slide down a snow-covered surface on a single board strapped to their feet.  It developed in the 1960s with the first mass-produced snowboard being sold in 1966, termed the “Snurfer.”  In the late 1970s, snowboarding became more popular and snowboarders began to “invade” traditional snow resorts, often met by opposition from skiiers who tried to exclude the snowboarders from “their” mountains.  By the 1990s, almost all ski resorts allowed snowboarding, and the resorts have found the snowboarders to be an excellent source of new revenue.

Competition in snowboarding developed in the late 1970s and early 1980s.  World Championships in the sport were first held in 1993 for both men and women.  Snowboarding was admitted to the Olympic program for the 1998 Olympic Winter Games in Nagano. Through 2010, the three snowboarding events have been halfpipe, parallel giant slalom, and boarder-cross. Parallel giant slalom is similar to professional skiing, in which two skiiers race down parallel race courses of identical design.  The first snowboarder with the best time over two runs advances to the next round.  Halfpipe is an acrobatic, balletic event, conducted in a tube, or halfpipe, bounded by two steep parallels walls of ice.  Boarder-cross is a very exciting, almost combative, event that is contested in rounds and heats, with each heat consisting of several snowboarders (4-8).  The snowboarders race pack-style down the same course, with the first finishers advancing to the next round.  The event is fast, with lots of action, skills, and contact, and was added to the Olympic Program in 2006 at Torino.

Two new events for both men and women have been added to the Olympic Program for 2014. These are slopestyle, which has some elements similar to halfpipe, but done on a downhill course, with jumps and obstacles added; and parallel slalom, similar to parallel giant slalom, but on a shorter course with tighter turns.

Snowboarding is governed by the Fédération Internationale de Ski (FIS), according to the International Olympic Committee, although this is controversial.  When snowboarding sought recognition as an Olympic sport, it tried to do so under the aegis of its own federation, the International Snowboarding Federation (ISF).  But the IOC does not recognize that federation.  The IOC agreed to allow snowboarding on the Olympic program but only if governed by the FIS as a discipline of skiing.  The decision was not well accepted by the snowboarding community, and in the early years of Olympic competition, several top snowboarders skipped the Olympics in protest.

As of November 2013, there are 120 member nations affiliated to the FIS.  This makes it the largest International Sporting Federation for any winter sport.  The FIS governs what it terms six disciplines of skiing – alpine skiing, cross-country skiing, ski jumping, Nordic combined, freestyle skiing, and snowboarding.  Cross-country, ski jumping, and Nordic combined are often termed one sport of nordic skiing, as in this book.

The 120 member nations of FIS are as follows: Albania, Algeria, American Samoa, Andorra, Argentina, Armenia, Australia, Austria, Azerbaijan, Bahamas, Barbados, Belarus, Belgium, Bermuda, Bolivia, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Brazil, British Virgin Islands, Bulgaria, Cameroon, Canada, Cayman Islands, Chile, China, Chinese Taipei, Colombia, Costa Rica, Croatia, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, Dominica, DPR Korea (North), Egypt, El Salvador, Eritrea, Estonia, Ethiopia, Fiji, Finland, Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, France, Georgia, Germany, Ghana, Great Britain, Greece, Grenada, Guatemala, Guyana, Haiti, Honduras, Hong Kong, Hungary, Iceland, India, Iran, Ireland, Israel, Italy, Jamaica, Japan, Kazakhstan, Kenya, Korea, Kosovo, Kuwait, Kyrgyzstan, Latvia, Lebanon, Lesotho, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Madagascar, Malta, Marocco, Mexico, Moldova, Monaco, Mongolia, Montenegro, Nepal, Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Pakistan, Palestine, Paraguay, Peru, Philippines, Poland, Portugal, Puerto Rico, Romania, Russia, San Marino, Senegal, Serbia, Slovakia, Slovenia, South Africa, Spain, Sudan, Swaziland, Sweden, Switzerland, Tajikistan, Thailand, Timor-Leste, Togo, Trinidad & Tobago, Turkey, Ukraine, United States of America, Uruguay, US Virgin Islands, Uzbekistan, Venezuela, and Zimbabwe.

Luge Factsheets

Olympic History:          Sledding on snow down hills has been done since the 16th century.  But sledding sport can be traced to the mid-19th century when British tourists starting sledding on the snowbound roads of the Alps.  The original form of the sport was the skeleton sleds that were used on the Cresta Run at St. Moritz.  Skeleton was contested at the Olympics in 1928 and 1948, both times when the Winter Games were contested at St. Moritz, and was added to the Olympic Winter program for the 2002 Olympic Winter Games, but the sport is governed now by the bobsled federation, the Fédération Internationale de Bobsleigh et Tobogganing (FIBT).

Luge spread to Switzerland in the 1890s as a variant of the skeleton race.  The first recorded competitions took place in 1890 at the Innsbruck-based Academic Alpine Club.  The Internationaler Schlittensportverband (International Sled Sport Federation) was formed in 1913 and the first European Championships were held in 1914 at Reichenfeld, Austria.

At the IOC meeting in Athens in 1954, luge tobogganing was recognized as an official Olympic sport but luge events were not contested in the Olympics until 1964.  The first world luge championships were contested in Oslo in 1955.  It was planned to introduce the sport at the 1960 Olympic Winter Games but the Squaw Valley organizers had decided not to build a bob run and not to hold bobsled events, and they likewise opposed building a luge run for the participation of only a few countries.  Thus the Olympic début was delayed until 1964.  Since that time luge has been contested at all Olympic Winter Games, with a singles and doubles event for men, and a singles event for women.  Technically, it could be considered that there is a men’s event, a women’s event, and a mixed event, since the doubles are open to mixed pairs.  However, no mixed pair has ever competed internationally at the Olympics or World Championships. In 2014 at Sochi, a team relay event consisting of two men and two women will be contested. This has been a World Championship event since 1989 when it was originally contested with three men and three women, but that was changed to teams of four in 1999.

In 1935, the International Schlittensportverband, later renamed the Internationaler Rodelverband (International Luge Federation), joined the bobsleigh federation, the FIBT, as the “Section de Luge.”  Prior to 1957, luge was governed by the FIBT.  In that year, the Fédération Internationale de Luge de Course (FIL) separated from the FIBT and was formed with 13 founding nations.  The FIL currently has 53 affiliated member nations, all of which are recognized by the IOC.  This makes it the second smallest International Federation, after curling, in terms of affiliated national federations.

The 53 member federations of the FIL are as follows: Andorra, Argentina, Australia, Austria, Belgium, Bermuda, Bosnia & Herzegovina, Brazil, Bulgaria, Canada, China, Chinese Taipei, Croatia, Czech Republic, Estonia, Finland, France, Georgia, Germany, Great Britain, Greece, Hungary, India, Israel, Italy, Japan, Kazakhstan, Korea, Kyrgyzstan, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Moldova, Netherlands Antilles, Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Poland, Puerto Rico, Romania, Russia, Serbia, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Thailand, Tonga, Turkey, Ukraine, United States, US Virgin Islands, and Venezuela.

Cross-Country Skiing Factsheets

Olympic History:          Nordic skiing has been practised in the Scandanavian countries since the 18th century, and competitions are known from the early 19th century.  The sport has been on the Olympic program since the Chamonix games of 1924.

Nordic skiing consists of three major disciplines: cross-country skiing, ski jumping, and Nordic combined, combining elements of both cross-country and ski jumping.  All three disciplines have been contested at all Winter Olympics.  Women have competed only in cross-country skiing at the Olympic Winter Games and first began to do so in 1952, although that will change in 2014 with women competing in ski jumping.

Cross-country skiing consists of races varying from 10 to 50 kilometres for men, and from 5 to 30 kilometres for women, as well as relay races.  The skiiers used to always race in time trial fashion, starting at intervals, but more mass start races have been added.  For the 2002 Olympic Winter Games, 1,500 metre sprint cross-country skiing was added as an event for both men and women.  At Torino in 2006, a two-person team sprint ski race was added for men and women.

In the 1980’s, cross-country skiing underwent a revolution that was started by Bill Koch, the first American to be a top international cross-country skiier.  He changed from the classic cross-country style of alternating legs and arms with the stride being pushed straight backwards, remaining in the ski track, to a style similar to skating on skis, and using shorter skis.  The FIS was urged to ban this style by the north Europeans, but it was decided instead to allow two styles.  However, races are now designated as either “classic” or “freestyle,” with skating being allowed in freestyle races. In the relays, the first two legs are skiied classically while the final two legs are freestyle. Currently, the techniques allowed for each cross-country event alternate, with one style being used at one Olympic Winter Games, and the style reverting to the opposite at the next celebration.

A two-day combined pursuit event, one day classical and one day freestyle, was also contested for both men and women from 1992-2006, but this has been changed.  The race now begins with a classical leg, followed by an immediate break, in which the skiiers change to freestyle skis, and then complete a freestyle leg. It is now called the skiathlon.

As of November 2013, there are 120 member nations affiliated to the FIS.  This makes it the largest International Sporting Federation for any winter sport.  The FIS governs what it terms six disciplines of skiing – alpine skiing, cross-country skiing, ski jumping, Nordic combined, freestyle skiing, and snowboarding.  Cross-country, ski jumping, and Nordic combined are often termed one sport of Nordic skiing.

The 120 member nations of FIS are as follows: Albania, Algeria, American Samoa, Andorra, Argentina, Armenia, Australia, Austria, Azerbaijan, Bahamas, Barbados, Belarus, Belgium, Bermuda, Bolivia, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Brazil, British Virgin Islands, Bulgaria, Cameroon, Canada, Cayman Islands, Chile, China, Chinese Taipei, Colombia, Costa Rica, Croatia, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, Dominica, DPR Korea (North), Egypt, El Salvador, Eritrea, Estonia, Ethiopia, Fiji, Finland, Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, France, Georgia, Germany, Ghana, Great Britain, Greece, Grenada, Guatemala, Guyana, Haiti, Honduras, Hong Kong, Hungary, Iceland, India, Iran, Ireland, Israel, Italy, Jamaica, Japan, Kazakhstan, Kenya, Korea, Kosovo, Kuwait, Kyrgyzstan, Latvia, Lebanon, Lesotho, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Madagascar, Malta, Marocco, Mexico, Moldova, Monaco, Mongolia, Montenegro, Nepal, Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Pakistan, Palestine, Paraguay, Peru, Philippines, Poland, Portugal, Puerto Rico, Romania, Russia, San Marino, Senegal, Serbia, Slovakia, Slovenia, South Africa, Spain, Sudan, Swaziland, Sweden, Switzerland, Tajikistan, Thailand, Timor-Leste, Togo, Trinidad & Tobago, Turkey, Ukraine, United States of America, Uruguay, US Virgin Islands, Uzbekistan, Venezuela, and Zimbabwe.

Ski Jumping Factsheets

Olympic History:          Nordic skiing consists of three major disciplines: cross-country skiing, ski jumping, and Nordic combined, combining elements of both cross-country and ski jumping, all of which have been on the Olympic program since the Chamonix games of 1924. The IOC actually considers ski jumping a discipline within the sport of skiing.

Jumping off hills on skis was pioneered by Norwegian Sondre Norheim in the 19th century, and had developed into a full sport by the 20th century. It has been contested in the Olympic Winter Games since the start in 1924. Originally dominated by participants from Norway, the top competitors now also hail from Finland and Central Europe, with Japan having the best jumpers from Asia.

Three events are currently contested at the Olympics, all for men. Since 2009, women also compete in World Championships, but despite legal action to have the event included for the Vancouver Games, women did not compete in ski jumping in 2010. However, women’s ski jumping will be contested at the 2014 Winter Olympics.

Through 1960, ski jumping at the Olympics had only a single event.  But Olympic ski jumping is now contested on two hills, usually termed the normal and large hill.  The size of the hill has varied over time, but those figures refer to the expected length of the jumps measured to the “norm” point of the hill, and not to the size of the hill.  The exact size of the hills, most commonly measured by the distance of the calculation point (or K-point), has gradually increased. In 1924, the normal hill K-point was at 71 m, while in 2010 it was at 95 m, and the large hill was at 125 m. From 1964-88, the hills were termed the 70 metre (normal) and 90 metre (large), but since 1992, they were often called the 90 and 120 metre hills. The current K-points have been 95 m and 125 m in 2006-14.  In the Olympics, a team event is also contested on the large hill.

Ski jumping is governed by the Fédération Internationale de Ski (FIS). As of November 2013, there are 120 member nations affiliated to the FIS.  This makes it the largest International Sporting Federation for any winter sport.  The FIS governs what it terms six disciplines of skiing – alpine skiing, cross-country skiing, ski jumping, Nordic combined, freestyle skiing, and snowboarding.

The 120 member nations of FIS are as follows: Albania, Algeria, American Samoa, Andorra, Argentina, Armenia, Australia, Austria, Azerbaijan, Bahamas, Barbados, Belarus, Belgium, Bermuda, Bolivia, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Brazil, British Virgin Islands, Bulgaria, Cameroon, Canada, Cayman Islands, Chile, China, Chinese Taipei, Colombia, Costa Rica, Croatia, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, Dominica, DPR Korea (North), Egypt, El Salvador, Eritrea, Estonia, Ethiopia, Fiji, Finland, Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, France, Georgia, Germany, Ghana, Great Britain, Greece, Grenada, Guatemala, Guyana, Haiti, Honduras, Hong Kong, Hungary, Iceland, India, Iran, Ireland, Israel, Italy, Jamaica, Japan, Kazakhstan, Kenya, Korea, Kosova, Kuwait, Kyrgyzstan, Latvia, Lebanon, Lesotho, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Madagascar, Malta, Marocco, Mexico, Moldova, Monaco, Mongolia, Montenegro, Nepal, Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Pakistan, Palestine, Paraguay, Peru, Philippines, Poland, Portugal, Puerto Rico, Rumania, Russia, San Marino, Senegal, Serbia, Slovakia, Slovenia, South Africa, Spain, Sudan, Swaziland, Sweden, Switzerland, Tajikistan, Thailand, Timor-Leste, Togo, Trinidad & Tobago, Turkey, Ukraine, United States of America, Uruguay, US Virgin Islands, Uzbekistan, Venezuela, and Zimbabwe.

Ice Hockey Factsheets

Olympic History:          Ice hockey is a sport of Canadian origin that began in the early 19th century.  It is based on several similar sports played in Europe, notably bandy in Scandinavia, and somewhat similar to the sports of shinny and hurling.  Around 1860, a puck was substituted for a ball, and in 1879, two McGill University students, W. F. Robertson and R. F. Smith, devised the first rules, combining field hockey and rugby regulations.  Originally the game was played nine to a side.  The first recognized team, the McGill University Hockey Club, was formed in 1880.

The sport became the Canadian national sport with leagues everywhere.  In 1894, Lord Stanley of Preston, Governor-General of Canada, donated a Cup that was first won in 1894 by a team representing the Montreal Amateur Athletic Association – the Stanley Cup.

Between the 1880s and World War I ice hockey became popular in Europe.  The first European Championship was played in 1910 at Les Avants in the Swiss Alps, won by Great Britain.  Ice hockey also spread below the border to the United States with the formation of the U.S. Amateur Hockey League, founded in New York in 1896.

Ice hockey was contested at the 1920 Summer Olympics at Antwerp, held in early April.  These were also the first world championships and were played by seven-man sides, the only time seven-man teams played in the Olympics.  In 1924, the Olympics began using the current standard of six-men on the ice at a time. Also, in 1920, the games consisted of two 20-minute halves, for a 40-minute game. In 1924, 1928, 1932, and 1936, the Olympic games were three 15-minute periods, for a 45-minute game.

Ice hockey has been held at every Olympic Winter Games.  Canada dominated early Olympic ice hockey tournaments, as might be expected.  From 1956, when it first entered the Olympic Winter Games, and easily won the ice hockey tournament, until its break-up, the Soviet Union was the pre-eminent country, their dominance interrupted only by huge American upsets in 1960 and 1980.

Beginning in the 1980s, professional hockey players who had played in the National Hockey League (NHL) were declared eligible to compete in the Olympic ice hockey tournament.  These professionals primarily represented Sweden, Finland, or Czechoslovakia at the Olympics, as the Canadian and American players were competing in the NHL season.  However, at Nagano in 1998, the NHL suspended play for two weeks to allow all NHL players to represent their nations at the Olympics.

This has also been the pattern in 2002, 2006, and 2010, and it will be at Sochi in 2014 as well. The NHL continues to allow this although it seems to kick and scream about it between each Olympics. Recently, it has stated that perhaps it would be better to resurrect the World Cup instead of disrupting the NHL season for Olympic competition.

Women’s ice hockey began to develop in the 1920s in Canada.  By the 1960s, women’s ice hockey in Canada was more organized with girls’ leagues throughout the nation.  In 1982 the Ontario Women’s Hockey Association organized the first Canadian national tournament.  Concurrently, women’s teams and leagues began to develop in the United States and Europe.  The first international championship was the World Invitational Tournament in 1987 in Missisauga, Ontario, Canada, and the International Ice Hockey Federation (IIHF) began to plan a womens’ world championships.  European women’s championships began in 1989 and the first women’s world ice hockey championships took place in 1990.

Ice hockey was approved as an Olympic sport for women by the IOC in 1992, and women’s Olympic ice hockey débuted at Nagano in 1998, and has been contested at each Olympics since. Women’s ice hockey has been dominated at the Olympics by Canada, with the United States a close second. No other women’s teams have really challenged these two nations, although in 2006, Sweden did defeat the United States to get to the final and win a silver medal. Because of the dominance of Canada and the United States, and because it is contested by only a few nations for women the IOC has made some mention that perhaps the sport should not be contested for women at the Winter Olympics.

The first international ice hockey federation was the Ligue Internationale de Hockey sur Glace (LIHG), which was formed in 1908 by four national federations: Belgium, France, Great Britain, and Switzerland.  The federation changed its name to the International Ice Hockey Federation in 1954. The IIHF currently (as of November 2013) has 72 affiliated national federations, all of which are also member nations within the IOC. They are as follows:

Andorra, Argentina, Armenia, Australia, Austria, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Belgium, Bosnia & Herzegovina, Brazil, Bulgaria, Canada, Chile, China, Chinese Taipei, Croatia, Czech Republic, Denmark, Democratic People’s Republic (DPR) of Korea (North), Estonia, Finland, France, Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM), Georgia, Germany, Great Britain, Greece, Hong Kong, Hungary, Iceland, India, Ireland, Israel, Italy, Jamaica, Japan, Kazakhstan, Korea (South), Kuwait, Kyrgyzstan, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Macau, Malaysia, Mexico, Moldova, Mongolia, Morocco, Namibia, Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Qatar, Romania, Russia, Serbia, Singapore, Slovakia, Slovenia, South Africa, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Thailand, Turkey, Ukraine, United Arab Emirates, United States.

Bobsledding Factsheets

Olympic History:          Bobsledding as a sport originated in Switzerland in 1886 when an Englishman, Wilson Smith, connected two sleighs with a board to travel from St. Moritz to Celerina.  Bobsledding was first practiced on the Cresta Run at St. Moritz but the run was not suitable for the faster bobsleds, so a separate bob run was constructed there in 1904, the world’s first.  Prior to that time, local roads around St. Moritz were used for bobsled races.  The first bobsled club was formed in 1896 by Lord Francis Helmsley of Britain at St. Moritz.

Bobsledding was on the program of the first Olympic Winter Games in 1924 with a single four-man event.  In 1928, the event was one for sleds with either four- or five-men.  In 1932, the current men’s program of two events, one for two-man sleds, and one for four-man sleds, began.  Bobsledding has been contested at all Olympic Winter Games except for 1960 at Squaw Valley.  Because of the distance to travel to California, only nine countries indicated that they would enter bobsled teams.  The Squaw Valley organizers thus decided not to build a bob run and the sport was not held that year.

Bobsledding at the Olympics was contested for men only through 1998.  In October 1999, the IOC approved the addition of women’s bobsled to the Olympic Winter program and women competed for the first time at Salt Lake City in 2002 in the two-woman bobsled event.

Bobsledding is governed world-wide by Fédération Internationale de Bobsleigh et de Tobogganing (FIBT).  As of November 2013, the FIBT has 64 affiliated member nations, all of which are recognized by the IOC.  This makes it the third smallest International Federation, after curling and luge, in terms of affiliated national federations.

The following nations are current members of the FIBT: American Samoa, Andorra, Argentina, Armenia, Australia, Austria, Azerbaijan, Belgium, Bermuda, Bosnia & Herzegovina, Brazil, Bulgaria, Canada, Chile, China, Chinese Taipei, Croatia, Czech Republic, Denmark, Dominican Republic, Finland, France, Germany, Great Britain, Greece, Hungary, India, Iraq, Ireland, Israel, Italy, Jamaica, Japan, Kazakhstan, Korea, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Mexico, Monaco, Netherlands, New Zealand, Nigeria, Norway, Panama, Poland, Portugal, Puerto Rico, Romania, Russia, Samoa, San Marino, Serbia, Slovakia, Slovenia, South Africa, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Trinidad & Tobago, Turkey, Ukraine, United States, US Virgin Islands, and Venezuela.

The First Olympic Winter Sports Champions

The first thing you may have noticed about this blog entry is the title. Not “The first Winter Olympic champions” but specifically “The first Olympic winter sports Champions”. The reason is simple – before the creation of the Winter Games some of the events that were to become part of the winter Olympic programme were held at the Summer Games. Figure skating first appeared at the 1908 Games in London but all winter sports were dropped from the 1912 programme following protests by Scandinavian nations who wished to promote their own Nordic Games. Figure skating returned in 1920 alongside the new sport of ice hockey and this paved the way for the Chamonix Winter Olympics of 1924 to happen.
But who were those first figure skating champions of 1908? Take a look at their biographies below.
Full results from the 1908 Olympic figure skating tournament can be found at http://www.sports-reference.com/olympics/summer/1908/FSK/

Ulrich Salchow (SWE)
Olympic champion – men

Ulrich Salchow was one of the most successful figure skaters of all-time and dominated figure skating in the early 1900s. His name was given to the figure skating jump “Salchow” that he performed for the first time in 1909. He was a specialist of the now defunct compulsories, which accounted for a large percentage of the total marks.
Salchow won 10 World Championships, 1901-05 and 1907-11. He did not compete in the 1906 World Championships that were held in Munich, as he feared that he would not be judged fairly against Gilbert Fuchs of Germany. His 10 titles are still a record, which he shares with Sonja Henie and Irina Rodnina. When figure skating was first contested at the Summer Olympics in London in 1908, Salchow won the title with ease. In addition, Salchow won the European Championships a record nine times (1898-1900, 1904, 1906-07, 1909-10, 1913), placed second in the World Championships three times (1897, 1899-1900) and once at the European Championships (1901). In his early career he was Swedish national champion in 1895-97. In 1976, he was inducted into the Figure Skating World Hall of Fame.
Salchow could not defend his Olympic gold medal at Stockholm in 1912 because organizers opted out of holding skating contests. When he made one last attempt at the Olympics in 1920, it ended in a fall, ironically while attempting his own jump, the Salchow. Despite this, the then 42-year-old managed to place fourth. In 1906, he published a handbook of skating, which was translated into several languages. He was also active in other sports, including cycling and bobsledding.
After his active career Salchow was President of the International Skating Union from 1925-37 and Chairman of the AIK in Stockholm from 1928-39. He was also chairman of the Swedish Cycling Association (1904-07), Swedish Skating Association (1917-20, 1923-32, 1935-38), and helped to found the Swedish Boxing Federation, where he was chairman from 1919-32, and he was a member of the board of the National Sports Confederation (1911-28).
Salchow was an active yachtsman and worked for the Swedish newspaper Dagens Nyheter and Associated Press as a journalist. He was on the board of the Swedish Radio and a successful merchant and radio pioneer.

Nikolay Panin (Kolomenkin) (RUS)
Olympic champion – men’s special figures

As a youth Nikolay Kolomenkin did rowing, cycling, athletics and gymnastics and was introduced to figure skating after 1893, when he enrolled at St. Petersburg University (now St. Petersburg State University). Kolomenkin was fascinated by this new sport and soon became the top Russian figure skater at the turn of 20th century. But for fear of fellow student’s mocking him, Kolomenkin competed in figure skating under the pseudonym Nikolay Panin and used this name throughout his competitive figure skating career.

In 1908 Kolomenkin became the first Russian Olympic winner when he won the special figures event at the London Olympics. Kolomenkin also won silver at the 1903 World Championships in singles, another silver at the 1908 European Championships, and bronze at the 1904 European Championships. He also won the Russian singles title from 1901-05 and 1907. While studying at university, Kolomenkin was an all-around athlete, competing in cycling, rowing, athletics, swimming, skiing and played football and hockey.

After graduating university with a mathematics degree in 1898, Kolomenkin became a competent sports shooter, winning 23 Russian titles in pistol shooting (1906-17). He also competed at the 1912 Olympics as a shooter, finishing eighth in individual free pistol and fourth in team pistol. After winning his Olympic title, Kolomenkin retired from competitive figure skating and worked as a figure skating coach. From 1915-17 Kolomenkin was general secretary of the Russian Olympic Committee and from 1919-30 worked in various financial positions with the Petrograd (later Leningrad) province and oblast governments. From 1933 until his death, Kolomenkin worked as head of the figure skating department at the Lesgaft State Institute of Physical Culture (now Lesgaft National State University of Physical Education, Sport and Health).

Madge Syers (GBR)
Olympic champion – women

Florence Madeline Cave, known to her friends “Madge” was one of fifteen children of Edward Jarvis Cave, a gentleman of independent means. Like many young girls in her position, she joined fashionable London Society at the Prince’s Skating Rink in Knightsbridge, but unlike most of her contemporaries, Madge took her skating seriously and it was through the sport that she met her future husband, Edgar Syers. Syers, who was 19 years her senior, wielded a considerable influence on Madge Caves development as a skater. He encouraged her to forsake the outdated “English” style with its minimal body movement, and in which she had won the 1899 Challenge Shield, and adopt the free and flowing “International’ style of skating. Madge Caves soon became the world’s leading woman skater. She won the first British pairs competition in 1899 with her future husband. The following year Madge and Edgar Syers were married and soon afterwards they finished second in one of the first international pairs competitions in Berlin.
Although the newly married couple was a formidable combination in pairs competitions, it was in individual events that Madge Syers really shone. As there was no rule prohibiting women from competing, she created a sensation by entering the World Championships in 1902 where – even more sensationally – she finished second to the great Ulrich Salchow of Sweden. The authorities immediately barred women from the championships, but in 1905 the ban was rescinded and the following year a separate ladies’ event was introduced at the world championships. Madge easily won this event in 1906 and 1907, but it was not until 1920 that these events were retroactively recognized as official world championships. She also won the first British singles championship in 1903, finishing ahead of Horatio Torromé, and in 1904 she defeated her husband to retain the title. With this record, Madge Syers was a clear favorite for the 1908 Olympic women’s singles and with all five judges placing her a clear first in both the compulsory figures and the free skating, she was an undisputed winner of the gold medal. She also won a bronze medal partnering her husband in the pairs event. After the 1908 Olympics, Madge Syers, who was also a prize winning swimmer and equestrienne, retired because of ill health and she died at the early age of 35.

Annie Hübler and Heinrich Burger (GER)
Olympic champion – pairs

In 1908 Annie Hübler and Heinrich Burger were the first Germans to won the pairs World Championship and they were the first German winter-sport Olympic Champions. They repeated as World Champions in 1910, and won German titles in 1907 and 1909.
Burger was also successful as a singles skater, winning three German Championships in 1904, and 1906-07. He was also runner-up at the World Championships in 1904 and 1906, and third in 1908. In 1905 he was runner-up at the European Championships. Burger later became a figure skating judge, serving on the jury at the 1928 Winter Olympics. He was a lawyer by profession.
Hübler later became an actress and a singer at the Bremen Town Theatre and the München Chamber Theatre. After her marriage to Ernst Horn, she managed the major department store “Horn” in München at the famous town square “Stachus”, which, with more than 1,000 employees, was the third largest catalogue company in Germany in that era. In 1969 she was awarded the Officer’s Cross of the Order of Merit of the Federal Republic of Germany.

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