Defying the elements
The Games were held in weather conditions that were unpredictable to say the least. The Opening Ceremony, held at the Olympic Stadium on Saturday 11 February 1928, took place in a blizzard. As the snow fell, 1,200 officials and participants paraded before the members of the IOC and the COS, with the assembled dignitaries including the President of the Swiss Confederation Edmund Schulthess and Henry of Mecklenburg-Schwerin, the prince consort of the Netherlands, who was representing Amsterdam, the host city of the Summer Games later that year.
After Schulthess had declared the second Olympic Winter Games open, Swiss cross country, Nordic combined and ski jumping specialist Hans Eidenbenz took the Olympic oath on behalf of all the athletes.
Within four days temperatures climbed to an unseasonable 25ºC, causing the cancellation of the 10,000m speed skating competition and countless problems for the competitors in the 50km cross-country skiing event due to the melting snow. The sunshine then gave way to rain, giving the organisers yet more headaches, with events being postponed and the bobsleigh competition being reduced from four legs to two.
Despite the problems that come with organising sporting events outdoors, and at altitude, the 1928 St Moritz Games were a success “There were no accidents, incidents or complaints,” noted the official report.
“The second Olympic Winter Games were held in an atmosphere of complete peace and tranquillity and can be regarded as a success. The Swiss Olympic Committee, the town of St Moritz and the people of Switzerland in general are proud to have organised the second Winter Games with dignity and to have contributed a solid block of stone, of granite hewn from Grisons, to the beautiful building that is modern Olympism, a veritable arc de Triomphe.”