«Isn’t it true that the top of Mount Olympus is covered in snow?» - Pierre de Coubertin and the Olympic Winter Games


  • Sebastian Kühn


Pierre de Coubertin, Viktor Balck, Olympic Winter Games, Nordic Games, Olympism, Universalism


This article examines the development of the Olympic Winter Games and Pierre de Coubertin’s views towards winter sports and the Winter Games in particular. While ice skating in principle had been on the list of desirable Olympic sports since the inaugural Olympic Congress at the Sorbonne in 1894, the lack of suitable facilities in most of the early host cities did not allow for skating competitions. The establishment of the Nordic Games in Sweden in 1901, Coubertin’s friendship with their founder Viktor Balck and the enduring resistance of the Scandinavian countries against Olympic Winter Games, delayed their development considerably. To Coubertin, the Winter Games, apparently were not a priority when seen in the bigger picture of his vision of Olympism. To him, the timely development of the Games to step by step implement new building bricks of his philosophy and the building of the Olympic Movement in order to achieve these goals took precedence. He did nonetheless follow a practical approach when the development and internationalization of winter sports, as well as the decline in Scandinavian resistance, brought forward the demand and opportunity to create the Olympic Winter Games.