Wednesday, June 06, 2012

Olympics Past

Part one here, part two here.  I should mention that the book I'm using is called 'The Olympic Games, Athens 1896-Athens 2004'.  And here is more:
  • The 1928 Winter games were in St Moritz Switzerland.  The Germans were allowed to compete again.  It took quite a while to forgive them for World War One, I guess.  The games were troubled by warm dry conditions but they struggled through.  Sonja Henie became a star figure skater.  There is a funny photo of her skating with a heavy fur coat on.  The skating rink looks like it was outdoors.  Can you picture that happening today?
  • Amsterdam hosted the 1928 summer games and they created a stir by giving a photography monopoly to one company.  Spectators were frisked for cameras before events.  Big protests ensued and the monopoly was scuttled.  This was the first game that featured a continuous Olympic flame, a tradition that continues to this day.  Women were allowed to compete in track and field (another ongoing tradition!).  In fact a German runner, Lina Radke-Batschauer, finished the 800 meter run in record time.  The other women finished in 'an exhausted state' and the IOC decided that women should be kept away from middle distance running events until 1960(!).  I love all of the outdoor pictures.  I think this summer I'll try and keep track of how many events are actually held outside.
  • Next up, the 1932 winter games in Lake Placid.  By this time the world was suffering through the Great Depression so it was rather sparsely attended.  There were 306 athletes from only 17 nations.  More than half were from the US or Canada.  Conditions were warmer than expected, a problem faced at every winter Olympics by that point.  Both curling and dog sled racing were there but only as demonstrations.  Curling didn't become a full fledged medal sport until 1998.  There were only four hockey teams.  
  • Los Angeles got the 1932 summer games.  Due to the ongoing Depression, they had more than 1400 athletes from 37 nations, roughly half of the 1928 total.  Men stayed in an Olympic village while women stayed in hotels.  LA introduced the three level podium for medal awards and automatic timing for track events.  The show jumping (equestrian?) course was so difficult that no team qualified for a medal.  The Indians dominated field hockey, something they would do for decades to come.  (I had never known of Indian domination before.)  There is a great picture of photo finish in the mens's 100 meter.  The electronic timers showed the same time for two men so they had to go to the cameras for help
More to come!

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