St. Moritz, Olympiastadion 1928 und 1948. Foto/Photo: TES

The Olympic Village St. Moritz

The first Winter Olympics in St Moritz (canton of Graubünden) began on 11 February 1928. Four hundred sixty-four athletes (among whom twenty-seven women) from 25 countries took part in six sports and 14 disciplines until 19 February, including speed skating, figure skating, ice hockey, bobsleigh and skeleton, skiing, ski jumping, cross-country skiing and Nordic combination.

Poster and the path to the  Olympic stadium

The choice of St Moritz at 1,856 metres was no accident. The village had been a winter sports resort for decades. Many facilities were already available. The investments for the organisation were therefore ‘only’ CHF 700 000, including CHF 250 000 for a new ski jump hill.

The Olympic stadium was very modest. There was no village for athletes. They stayed, mostly at their own expense, in hotels. The atmosphere in and outside the games was Olympic in the true sense of the meaning. The athletes were amateurs. About 40 000 spectators and 330 press representatives attended the event. Radio was also present.

Opening ceremony 1928

Also or even in 1928, the weather did not always play along: it was 25 degrees on 14 February, and 10 degrees with rain the day after. Consequently, the skating of the 10 000 metres did not take place.

Speed skating, 5 000 meters

The second Olympic Games in St Moritz occurred from 30 January to 8 February 1948. The Olympic stadium served again, a village for athletes was still not there, and the Olympic idea participating is more important than winning was still normative.

Poster 1948 and the opening ceremony 

In 1948, the weather was, again, unstable, around freezing point and thawing some days. Six hundred sixty-nine athletes, including seventy-seven women, from 28 countries took part. Germany, Japan and the Soviet Union were not represented.

Fifty-nine thousand spectators and 570 press representatives followed the fifth Winter Olympics. The number of sports was still six, but with more disciplines in skiing. Television was present for the first time: the BBC and three US channels.

As well as being an Olympic village, St Moritz was also a hub of sports pioneers in bobsleigh and skeleton, the first curling club outside the UK, professional ski instructors,  polo on ice ( the Snow-Polo World Cup), the ‘White Turf’ horse races (skiers pulled by horses on Lake St Moritz) and several new ski events.

St. Moritz shares the characteristics of most fashionable Swiss towns. The grandeur of the hotels and other touristic facilities go very well along with the village-like and convivial atmosphere with various high-class cultural events and organisations and magnificent nature.

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