Today on Oldest Olympians we wanted to share a piece of Olympic history that most people are probably unaware of. Many might be surprised to hear that Mexico, not a particularly wintery nation, has appeared at six editions of the Winter Olympics, with the most recent having been in 2010. Those who are familiar with this fact, however, may still be unaware that the country’s first participation at the Winter Games came in 1928, when it sent five men to compete in the bobsleigh event. While this appearance is fascinating in and of itself, it also contains an element of Olympic mystery that we like to showcase on this blog.
(The 1928 two-man bobsleigh event, from a photograph posted on Reddit)
The event allowed teams to be composed of either four or five men, but everyone entered five-men teams to avoid being at a disadvantage. It was postponed from its originally scheduled date and then limited to two runs due to poor weather. Of the 25 teams entered into the four/five man bobsleigh at the 1928 St. Moritz Games, Mexico placed 11th overall, coming in 16th in the first run and 8th in the second. This put it ahead of teams from more traditional winter nations, such as Switzerland, Poland, and Austria.
Given the nature of bobsledding during this era, it is not surprising that the two competitors that we do have some information about were members of higher society. Mario Casasús was a military officer who had connections to the world of finance and had an affair with the wife of American philanthropist Frank Jay Gould. Similarly, Lorenzo Elízaga was an aristocrat and property owner with a residence in Paris who later married an actress and died in Spain in 1996.
The other three competitors are more mysterious. We have a full name for only one of them – Juan de Landa – with the other two known only as G. and J. Díaz. As one might expect, nothing has yet been found about these individuals, so the question remains: who were the men who helped Mexico make their Winter Olympic début over 90 years ago? We suspect that the story could be found in Mexican archival material, but we have yet to comes across anything that might shed more light. Mexico did intend to send another team to the 1932 Lake Placid Games, but they did not compete, so we are left to wonder if perhaps some of the prospective team members intended to repeat their appearance from the 1928 edition.
We wanted to post today not only to share this interesting, if brief, story, but also to publicize it in the hopes that perhaps someone reading this might be able to provide more information. We will continue to write up Olympic mysteries here at Olympstats in the coming days and we hope that will you will continue to join us!