Since the birth of British skiing in Mürren, Brits have fought for the elusive gold medal on snow.
Britain has successfully dominated on ice in a variety of disciplines, including figure skating, skeleton and curling. This year’s aim of winning 5 medals across all disciplines may seem ambitious - but how has Britain done in the past?
The Winter Olympics were born of the International Winter Sports Week in 1924, an event which brought together 16 nations, including Great Britain, to compete in events from skating to Nordic skiing. It is tied as one of Great Britain’s most successful Winter Games, with us winning 4 medals, including a gold in men’s curling.
Elsewhere in Switzerland, around the same period, Brits were revolutionizing ski racing. Though Nordic skiing was included in these early games, skiing was yet to be popularised. Sir Arnold Lunn, founder of the Kandahar Ski Club and President of the Ski Club of Great Britain, had a major role in developing Alpine ski racing and drove for its inclusion in the Olympics. In 1922, Lunn set a slalom course where skiers were judged on speed rather than style.
During the early games, medal tables were dominated by Scandinavian countries, particularly Norway. As years progressed, Great Britain made their stamp on ice rather than snow. It was in St Moritz in 1928 that Britain won its first bronze medal in Skeleton – a sport in which we have excelled in recent years. It was only in 1936 that, encouraged by Arnold Lunn, Alpine skiing was included for the first time and the Winter Games were changed forever. The skiing programme consisted of a single event – the Combined, where the results of a downhill run and a slalom run were added together.
In the 1936 Olympics, Britain won medals across Bobsleigh, Figure Skating and gold in Ice Hockey. When the Winter Olympics returned after World War Two, it saw the rise of one of the most successful British Winter Olympians. Jeannette Altwegg won bronze in Figure Skating in the 1948 Olympics in St Moritz and went on to win gold in the following 1952 Games.