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Monday, December 17, 2001
Updated: January 8, 9:53 PM ET
1928 St. Moritz

By Jeff Merron and Eric Neel
Special to

The Site: St. Moritz, Switzerland, located at 6,037 feet above sea level. A resort town since the 1800s and still one of the world's great winter sports areas. Oddity: the townspeople speak the obscure "Romansh" language. During the 1928 Games, warm weather caused the cancellation of some events. 495 athletes (468 men, 27 women) from 29 countries competed.

Front-runner: Speed skater Clas Thunberg of Finland, who won three golds at the Chamonix Games in 1924 and added two more (in the 500 and 1,000 meters) in 1928.

Toast of the Town: 15-year-old Sonja Hennie. She had competed in the 1924 Games, at age 11, but didn't win a medal. In 1928, she won her first of three consecutive women's figure skating golds.

Upset: The United States was second in the medal count behind only Norway.

Quotable: "I had two husbands. She even beat me at that. She had three." -- Fritzi Burger, who finished second to Henie in 1928 and 1932, in a 1994 interview.

Top of the Pops: 12 million recordings of Al Jolson's "Sonny Boy" sold in four weeks.

Oscar: Two "best picture" awards were given in 1927-28, the first year of the Academy Awards. "Wings" was named "Best Production" and "Sunrise" was given the award for "Unique and Artistic Picture."

In the Works: Television and talkies.

Hot Lit: "The Bridge of San Luis Rey," Thornton Wilder; "A Farewell to Arms," Ernest Hemingway.

The Political Scene: In Paris, 65 countries signed the Kellogg-Briand Pact, outlawing war. Republican Herbert Hoover won the U.S. presidential election over Democrat Al Smith in a landslide.

Odds and Ends: The IOC's plan was for the host country of the Summer Games to also host the Winter Games. The plan failed, as summer host Holland has no skiing facilities.

  • During the 50K cross-country skiing event, won by Per Erik Hedlund of Sweden by a 13-minute margin, the temperature rose from near zero to 77 degrees.

  • Four-man bobsled teams were given the option of using five men. All of them chose to do so.

  • Billy Fiske, 16, led the U.S. five-man bobsled team to the gold medal, and won another gold at the 1932 games. On August 16, 1940, while flying with the Royal Air Force, he became the the first U.S. pilot to die in World War II.

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    A note on sources: David Wallechinsky's "The Complete Book of the Winter Olympics", Bud Greenspan's "Frozen in Time", Bernard Grun's "The Timetables of History", The Internet Movie Database ( and were major reference sources for this compilation.