Winter Olympics History
While the games of the Summer Olympics can be traced back 3,000 years, Winter Olympics history covers only a fraction of that time. While it was sometimes considered inferior to its summer brethren, the Winter Olympics has grown to become a world event with an audience fitting for a worldwide sporting event. Throughout its history, the Winter Olympics has given us some of the most memorable sporting moments.
When the Olympics reformed in 1896, there were some members of the Olympic Committee, especially those from Scandinavia, who wanted to include some winter sports in the Olympic programme. After unsuccessful attempts in 1896 and 1900, the Scandinavian countries decided to hold the "Nordic Games" in 1901. These games were held every four years until 1926 and contained many of the sports that would become part of the Winter Olympics.
The start of the Winter Olympics began in 1908 at the Summer Games in London. The organizers of the London games wanted to highlight figure skating, as it was extremely popular in Britain at the time. After a successful showing, the International Olympic Committee, or IOC, wanted to include some other Nordic games when the Summer Olympics headed to Germany in 1916, but with the outbreak of World War One, the games were cancelled. The 1920 Summer Games included both figure skating and ice hockey.
In 1924 the IOC organized an "International Winter Sports Week" in France occurring in the winter after the Summer Games. This Winter Games week proved to be very popular so the IOC decided to incorporate the week under the name "Olympics." The Games in 1924 were retroactively called the first Winter Olympic Games and the games were held every four years after that, except for 1940 and 1944 when the games were cancelled because of World War Two.
In 1986 the ICO decided to separate the Summer and Winter Olympic Games, to prevent the games from fading from the mind of the public. The Winter Olympics in 1994, held in Lillehammer, Norway, were the first to be held without a corresponding Summer Games in the same year.