1928 - Winter Olympics II (St. Moritz, Switzerland)

Medal Standings

  Gold Silver Bronze Total
Norway 6 4 5 15
United States 2 2 2 6
Sweden 2 2 1 5
Finland 2 1 1 4
France 1 0 0 1
Canada 1 0 0 1
Austria 0 3 1 4

According to the International Olympic Committee's rules at the time, the country of the host city chosen to organize the Summer Olympics had the first option to organize the Winter Games. In 1928, Amsterdam elected not to play host to the second ever Winter Olympics and thus, St. Moritz, Switzerland became the first Games to be hosted in a different nation.

For the first time, the skeleton event in whcih athletes descend down an icy course headfirst was contested. The Games featured the first Asian participants as Japan entered a team.

Canadian Medal Winners

  Medal Event
Univ. Toronto Grads Gold Ice Hockey

Norwegian Sonja Henie caused a sensation by winning the women's figure skating event at the age of 15. Her record as the youngest winner of an individual event stood for 74 years. In men's figure skating, Gillis Grafström of Sweden - one of figure skating's greatest innovators - won his third straight gold medal despite suffering from a badly swollen knee.

Norway's Jacob Tullin Thams arrived in St. Moritz intent on defending his ski jumping title captured four years earlier. However, an argument developed between the favoured Norwegians and host Swiss regarding the starting point of the jump. Norway claimed the high start benefitted mediocre jumpers, allowing them to jump farther. Thams became incensed after the Norwegians were termed 'cowards'. Tied for fifth place after the first jump, he soared a record 73 metres - the longest ever recorded at the time - and came down beyond the flat area of the landing zone. However, he fell when he hit the ground and the subsequent loss of style points dropped him to 28th place. Thams would go on to compete in the 1936 Summer Olympics in yachting, earning a silver medal and the distinction of being one of few athletes to win both a Summer and Winter Olympics medal.

The 50 km cross-country ski race took place in ever-changing weather conditions. At the start of the event, the temperature hovered at near 0-degrees C but by the time Per Erik Hedlund of Sweden crossed the finish line, the mercury has risen to a balmy 25-degrees C.

Canada once again dominated the hockey tournament, this time led by the Varsity Grads of Toronto, a team made up mostly of doctors, lawyers and reporters who had graduated from the University of Toronto but weren't quite ready to give up their hockey careers. They would go on to become one of the greatest teams in Canadian history, winning the national senior title in 1925, the intercollegiate title in 1926 and Olympic gold in 1928.

Their level of skill and play astounded the Swiss officials at pre-Olympic practices, prompting them to create a qualifying system that allowed the Varsity Grads to sit-out round-robin divisional play and proceed directly to the medal round.

Captained by defenceman John C. Porter and backstopped by Dr. Joseph "Stonewall" Sullivan, they steamrolled their competition in St. Moritz, first hammering Sweden 11-0, then routing Great Britain 14-0. In that game, even Canadian spectators joined with the rest of the crowd in cheering for the underdogs. The Grads would go on to clinch a third straight Olympic gold for Canada by blanking Switzerland 13-0. During their stary in Europe, the team played several exhibitions, showcasing their smooth combination of defence and speed, prompting observers to call them "the greatest hockey team ever seen in Europe".

Upon their return home from Switzerland, all of Toronto turned out to give them a royal welcome. A colorful parade culminated with a reception at City Hall.


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