With the world’s attention focused on Sochi, I thought it would be interesting to take a look back at some of the earliest Winter Olympics. At the first Winter Games in 1924 in Chamonix, France, 16 countries sent 250 athletes to compete in familiar sports like bobsleigh and hockey. The 1936 Winter Olympics were held in Garmisch-Partenkirchen, in Nazi Germany, after which the Games were cancelled until 1948 due to World War II. The photos below are from Olympic Winter Games I-XII, which took place from 1924 to 1976.
Gold Medal winner Italian skier Gustav Thöni, flanked by Swiss teammates Edmund Bruggmann (left) and Werner Mattle, smiles as he waves to the crowd during the medals ceremony of the men’s giant slalom in Sapporo, Japan, on February 11, 1972.
In 1976, members of the West German luge team, Elisabeth Demleitner and Stephan Hoelzlwimmer, wear the latest design in helmets during a practice session on the Olympic Luge course in Innsbruck, Austria, on Friday, on January 30, 1976.
Spectators enter the ice stadium before the opening ceremony of the seventh Winter Olympic Games, in Cortina, Italy, on January 26, 1956.
The opening ceremonies of the 1976 Winter Olympic games, back in Innsbruck, Austria, on February 4, 1976. (AP Photo)
Team USA two-man bobsled run, during the Olympic Winter Games, on February 13, 1976, in Innsbruck, Austria.
Tyler Palmer from Kearsarge, New Hampshire, in action in men’s slalom during the 11th Winter Olympic Games, on February 13, 1972 in Sapporo, Japan. He finished 9th
Daniel Carroll of St. Louis, Missouri, left, powers through falling snow to a good time of 7 minutes 44.72 seconds in the Olympic 5000 meter speed skating in the Makomanai Stadium in Sapporo, Japan, on February 4, 1972. (AP Photo/John Rider)
A competitor soars through the air during the IX Winter Olympic Games Men’s 120-Meter Ski Jump event in Innsbruck, Austria, on February 9, 1964. (AP Photo)
Ronnie D. Walters, front, and James G. Higgins, of the U.S. during a two-man toboggan practice run on course at IGLS near Innsbruck, Austria, on January 22, 1964.
Flames and smoke soar up as the Olympic flame is lit at the top of the Olympic Stadium at Innsbruck, Austria, for the IX Winter Games, on January 21, 1964
Members of the U.S. hockey team scramble on the ice for the puck a moment after they beat the highly-favored Canada team, 2-1, in the Winter Olympics at Squaw Valley, California, on February 25, 1960.
U.S. left wing Weldon Olson (left) and Miroslav Vlach, Czechoslovakian Olympic hockey team left wing, battle for puck behind the nets in the opening Olympic hockey match, February 19, 1960 in Squaw Valley, California. The United States team came from behind to win by a 7-5 score.
To form a fresh smooth surface, lukewarm water is poured over the ice of the speed skating rink of Lake Misurina, where the 1956 Winter Olympics speed skating events will take place in Cortina d’Ampezzo, Italy, on January 13, 1956.
Russia’s Ljubov Kozyreva wins the women’s 10 kilometer cross country ski, at the seventh Winter Olympic Games, at Cortina, Italy, on January 28, 1956.
Andreas Ostler of Germany pilots his four-man bobsled to victory in the Winter Olympics at Frognerseteren, Norway, on February 22, 1952. The team, front to rear, are Ostler, Friedrich Kuhn, Lorenz Nieberl and Franz Kemser.
Thousands of spectators blanket the snow-covered background at Holmenkollen, Oslo, Norway, February 24, 1952 as Norwegian ski jumper Arnfinn Bergmann soars through the air for the win
A view from the top of the Holenkollen ski jump near Oslo, Norway, during the VI Olympic Winter games, on February 24, 1952.
The Canadian ice hockey team raises a cheer at the announcement made at the St. Moritz ice stadium that they had won the Winter Games hockey tournament, on February 8, 1948.
J. Crammond of Britain wins the first half of the Olympic Skeleton Race on the Cresta run, on February 3, 1948, St. Moritz, Switzerland.
Shooting in the pistol section of the Olympic Pentathlon competition, from right to left is Sdt. Griessler of Austria, Capt. John Walker of Great Britain, and Hauptmann Scriber, on February 1, 1948, in St. Moritz, Switzerland.
Gustav Allain Lindh of Sweden passes the finish line in the Winter Olympic Pentathlon Horsemanship, which he won, on February 4, 1948, St. Moritz, Switzerland.
Andrea Mead, 15, of Rutland, Vermont, speeds past flag markers during competition in the Olympic women’s slalom event at St. Moritz, Switzerland, on February 4, 1948.
Hijo Chang Lee of Korea, left, and A. Huiskes of Holland, compete in the 500 meter Olympic speedskating, at St Moritz, Switzerland, on January 31, 1948.
Competing in the first run of the Olympic two-man bobsled competition is the French second team, W.G. Hirigoyen and L. Saint-Calbre, on January 30, 1948, St. Moritz, Switzerland.
Dick Button of Englewood, New Jersey, executes a jump during a practice session at St. Moritz, Switzerland, on January 19, 1948, in preparation for the Winter Olympics of 1948.
From left, Barbara Ann Scott, Marion Ruth Take, and Susanne Morrow, members of the Canadian Winter Olympic team, March in the opening parade at the ice stadium in St. Moritz, Switzerland, on January 30, 1948.
A sad spill in the second elimination race of the Olympic four-man bobsled, on February 19, 1936. The Italian sled Italia 2 failed to take a curve and catapulted its crew into the air. Two were slightly hurt. The crew were Francesco De Zana, Uberto Gillarduzi, Amedeo Angeli, and Ernesto Fiancheschi.