The cradle of winter sports
The origins of winter sports go back to the seventies and eighties of the 19th century after English visitors – on the initiative of Johannes Badrutt – undertook the daring winter journey to St. Moritz by horse-drawn sleigh.
Along with skiing, guests in St. Moritz also went in for ice skating and curling. In 1882 the first ice-skating competition was held – with Viennese participation. Then followed, in quick succession, the founding of the first curling club, the tobogganing club and others. Bandy (the forerunner of hockey) was also played, the first bobsleighs invented and constructed and, with the start of the 20th century, the place was busy with all kinds of winter sports activities. In 1928 and 1948 the only Olympic Games to take place in Switzerland were held in St. Moritz.
The Olympic Winter Games made St. Moritz world famous
Together with Lake Placid and Innsbruck, St. Moritz belongs to that exclusive circle of locations which have twice hosted the Olympic Winter Games. For St. Moritz and the Engadine these games – during the economic crisis at the end of the 1920’s and in the three years after the end of the Second World War – were of immense importance. Such “major events” may have been on a significantly smaller scale than those of today, but they made the name of St. Moritz famous throughout the world as an Olympic venue in a sublimely beautiful alpine valley on the rooftop of Europe.
The 1928 Games were the first Olympic Winter Games of all time – the “rehearsal” in Chamonix (1924) was accorded this status only in retrospect. Despite some unsettled weather, the Games in 1948 were in every respect a complete success. It should be remembered that, as a consequence of the war, many of the athletes had never, or only after a lengthy period, left their home country, never mind to take part competitively in an international event. In a certain sense, therefore, St. Moritz marked a new beginning and this not only for sportsmen and sportswomen, but for the whole world.
Today it is the former Olympic stadium which most clearly bears witness to this legacy. Furniture designer, Rolf Sachs, closely connected with St. Moritz through sport and culture, has had the building - not used for two decades - restored and made into his home. Other Olympic features are the Olympic Bobrun St. Moritz – Celerina and the Olympic Stone in the St. Moritz Kurpark, laid to commemorate the Olympic Winter Games in 1928 and 1948.