Olympics

1924 - Winter Olympics I (Chamonix, France)


Medal Standings

  Gold Silver Bronze Total
Norway 4 7 6 17
Finland 4 4 3 11
Austria 2 1 0 3
Switzerland 2 0 1 3
United States 1 2 1 4
Great Britain 1 1 2 4
Sweden 1 1 0 2
Canada 1 0 0 1

In 1921, the International Olympic Committee voted to stage "International Sports Week 1924" in Chamonix, France. In 1926, during the 25th Session of the International Olympic Committee in Lisbon, the Chamonix Games were recognized as the first Olympic Winter Games.

The first event to be decided in Chamonix was the men's 500m speed skating with American Charles Jewtraw claiming the first ever gold medal of hte Winter Games. A. Clas Thunberg of Finland earned medals in all five speed skating events - three gold, one silver and one bronze.

Canadian Medal Winners

  Medal Event
Toronto Granites Gold Ice Hockey

The official medal ceremony was not held until February 5, shortly before the closing speech by Pierre de Coubertin. As some athletes had already gone home, Frantz Reichel presented their medals to other members of their teams. But no one waited longer to collect his medal than Anders Haugen of the United States. Deprived of a third place finish in the ski jumping event due to a marking error. It took almost 50 years for the matter to be resolved and Haugen eventually received his bronze medal at the age of 83.

Canada's lone medal of the Games came courtesy of the Toronto Granites hockey team, who won all five of their matches by outscoring their opponents 110-3. The Granites earned the right to compete at the Olympics by winning the Allan Cup in 1922 and 1923. General manager Conn Smythe assembled a team which included the likes of Harry Watson, Dunc Munro and Hooley Smith.

In France, the Canadians went virtually unapposed through the opening round, defeating Czechoslovakia 30-0, Sweden 22-0 and Switzerland 33-0. Over in Group B, the United States also found an easy path to the medal round, beating Belgium, France and Great Britain by combined scores of 52-0. In the medal round, Canada opened with an 11-0 win over Sweden while the American's thumped Great Britain 11-0. The Brits, however, became the first team to score on Canada at the Olympics, losing 19-2 in the semifinals. The United States made easy work of Sweden 20-0, setting up a Canada-USA match for gold. The Canadians ran into their toughest test of the Games, winning 6-1 in a physical affair. Great Britain defeated Sweden 4-3 to take the bronze.

In an article which ran in the Toronto Star on February 4, 1924, W.A. Hewitt wrote that "the Canadians had the science, skill and team work and was a much superior team even more than the score indicates."

An excerpt of his article follows:

"The Canadians played good combination all the way. Their passing back and forward was a treat. Their team work was the predominating feature of the victory.

McCaffery got the first goal on a double pass with Watson. Watson scored the second on a beautiful individual play. He dodged the whole American team. With Slater off for a charge Drury scored the only goal the States got. His shot was deflected by Ramsay into nets. Jack Cameron had the goal covered at the time.

In the second period Smith and McCaffery scored for Canada. Toward the end of this period Munro went through the entire U. S. team, and scored Canada's fifth goal.

In the third period Watson got the only goal. The Canadians had many chances but luck was against them.

The ice was sticky and the hard skating took a lot out of the boys. Watson was cross checked across face in the first minute of the play but played a sensational game with a bleeding mouth.

Much of the success of the Canadian teams showing is due to Frank Rankin's excellent coaching. Harmony and good fellowship prevailed at all times and the team gave their very best for him. Congratulatory messages were received by the Canadians from all over the world.

For Americans Drury, Abel, and Small were best. After the game the Americans declared Watson the greatest hockeyist of all time. They said that no player ever took so much punishment and played such brilliant hockey."

In 1924, Canada had no official national anthem and no maple leaf flag. So, when the Granites won the gold medal, the band played "the Maple Leaf Forever" and the Canadian Red Ensign went up the pole. The American flag was placed at half-mast, not to mourn the loss to Canada, but to acknowledge the death of former U.S. president Woodrow Wilson, which was announced at the end of the game.

Though the American players thought that Harry Watson was the best player they had ever seen, it was Reginald "Hooley" Smith who went on to a stellar professional career, playing 17 seasons in the National Hockey League, nine with the Montreal Maroons.



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