St Moritz 1928

The 1928 Olympic Winter Games, hosted by St. Moritz, Switzerland, were the first to be held in a different nation than the Summer Games of the same year. A combination of warm spells, no snow and heavy rain bedevilled the Games, forcing the cancellation of some bobsleigh and speed skating events. Even though there was a decrease in the number of sports, participation increased, with 464 athletes from 25 nations competing. 

The men’s 50km cross-country race was one of the events affected by freakish weather conditions. At the beginning of the race, the temperature was 0° Celsius; by the end it had risen to 25°. Per Erik Hedlund of Sweden was the only competitor to conquer the conditions. His winning time was more than 13 minutes faster than any of the other skiers.

Skeleton, in which athletes descend head-first on a sled down an ice track, made its Olympic debut as part of the bobsleigh program. Finland’s speed skater Clas Thunberg added two more gold medals to the three he had won in 1924. Johan Grottumbraten of Norway won the 18km cross-country event and the Nordic combined. Another Norwegian, Sonja Henie, won the women’s figure skating at the age of 15. Her record as the youngest winner of an individual event stood for 74 years. Such results led Norway to the top of the medal table, with six gold medals.

In men’s figure skating, Gillis Grafström of Sweden won his third straight gold medal.  Elsewhere, Canada again dominated the ice hockey tournament as they had in 1924, and the United States began its 20-year domination of bobsleigh events.

Australia at these Games

Australia did not make its Olympic Winter Games debut until Garmisch-Partenkirchen 1936.