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The Winter Olympics is pivotal in the world of winter sports. It’s where the best of the best from around the world go to compete in their chosen sport and see who will come out on top while millions of people watch them. How, though, did the Winter Olympics get its start? 


The Winter Olympics started five years after the first modern Olympics was held, with the competition taking place eight different times between 1901 and 1926. For all but one of these times, the games (known then as the Nordic Games, as the competitors were predominantly from Nordic countries) were hosted in Stockholm, Sweden. In 1911, a member of the International Olympic Committee suggested either the inclusion of winter sports in the 1912 Olympics, as they were held in Stockholm that year, or an entirely new Winter Olympics held later in the year. Fearing for the Nordic Games, Sweden refused, but in 1920 Nordic protests were ignored in favor of adding winter sports to the competition.


It took two years to reach an agreement between the International Olympic Committee and the Nordic countries, and the Games in 1924 proved successful as the Nordic countries ended with 30 of the 49 medals awarded that year. Norway, in particular, topped the medals table with 17 total. This would be what’s truly the first Winter Olympics, though, at the time, it was referred to as International Sports Week and not an officially-sanctioned event. About 250 athletes competed in these Games from 16 different countries with 16 different events. 


The Winter Olympics as we know it came about the following year since the International Olympic Committee modified its charter to create an entirely new competition dedicated to winter sports. The 1928 Games, held that year in St. Moritz, Switzerland, were officially declared to be the second Winter Olympics. These Games had drawn in 214 additional competitors compared to the first Games, with 464 athletes competing for the gold.


Since then, the Winter Olympic Games have been held every four years. Originally, they were hosted in the same calendar year as the Summer Olympics, but due to cost and logistics, the schedule was changed, so there was a two-year off-set between the events. Since the change for the 1992 Winter Games and 1994 Summer Games, the competitions have altered in even-numbered years.