Pictures from the first Games in Chamonix, France underline how wildly the world of sports has changed in nearly a century of ice-cold competition.
1. Phenoms Then…
At the age of 11, Sonja Henie of Norway finished last at Chamonix but won gold in the next three Olympics. THE AGE OF 11.
Julia Lipnitskaia, at just 15 years old, could be a dark-horse gold medal candidate in front of the home fans come February. She put on, by all accounts, a “stunning” performance at Skate Canada in October, and she could be the first Russian on the ladies’ medal stand since Irina Slutskaya eight years ago.
2. Curling Then…
Only four teams competed — including two from Sweden — but it was the Brits (seen here) who captured the first gold.
Canada’s Kevin Martin, 47 years old but “back and dangerous as ever,” will be eyeing his second straight gold in Sochi.
3. Canadian Hockey Then…
Team Canada — technically formed from the members of an amateur club called the Toronto Granites — won its second straight gold medal at these Games. (Ice hockey actually premiered at the 1920 Summer Olympics in Antwerp, Belgium.)
Canada’s men’s hockey team has won eight gold medals in all – including 2010’s memorable overtime win in Vancouver — but only two of them in the last 60 years.
4. Opening Ceremonies Then…
It may look like one kind of salute, but it’s actually something different! These are French athletes doing what was known as the Olympic Salute. (FYI: Germany was not a participant in the 1924 Olympics, summer or winter, and the Nazi party was still some years away from coming to power.) Coincidentally, it was the French athletes who created a hubbub 12 years later when they allegedly saluted the Nazis at the 1936 Summer Olympics in Berlin.
In 1924 the concept of the Olympic flame was still four years away from being officially introduced to the modern Games. Every Opening Ceremony has upped the magnificence since.
5. Figure Skating Then…
From left to right, the 1924 Olympics ladies figure skating medalists: Herma Planck-Szabo of Hungary (gold), Ethel Muckelt of Britain (silver), and Beatrix Loughran of U.S. (bronze).
6. Bobsledding Then…
Britain’s four-man bobsled team, on its way to winning the silver medal in Chamonix. (Helmets not included.)
The U.S. four-man bobsled team (seen here) won the gold medal over Germany in 2010 by less than four-tenths of a second. This time around, BMW is developing a new two-man bobsled for the Americans, once that can top 90 miles per hour and maybe bring the U.S. its first two-man gold since 1936.
7. Canada Beating The U.S. In Hockey Then…
On the last day of competition in the 1924 Games, our neighbors to the north took home the hockey gold with a dominant 6-1 win in front of a pretty large crowd of spectators.
And Now. (Sigh.)
Sidney “Tim Horton” Crosby scores in overtime to win the gold medal for Canada and the crowd in Vancouver goes berserk. Damn you, Canada!