It was a joint decision of the Canadian Amateur Ski Association (CASA) and the Canadian Olympic Games Committee which allowed Canadian skiers to participate, for the first time, in the Olympic Winter Games of 1928. Of the several winter sports represented, the spectacular ski jumping and the challenging downhill sections of the cross country races were among the main attractions.
Arriving late, the Canadian team was at an immediate disadvantage. It was cautioned not to begin training immediately due to the "...peculiar knock-out effect of the high altitude" (H.P. Douglas, Canadian Ski Annual 1927-1928). Many of the other teams had been training in Switzerland for a month and were already well acclimatized.
The skiers representing Canada were Leonard Lehan (Montreal Ski Club), William B. Thompson (McGill University Ski Club), Merritt Putnam (Toronto Ski Club) and Gérald Dupuis (Cliffside Ski Club). Thompson and Putnam competed in the 18 km cross country ski running event while Dupuis competed in both ski jumping and nordic combined events. Lehan unfortunately suffered a knee injury while training and was unable to compete in the ski jumping competition.
The Canadians were unaware of nuances in the technique of the Europeans, who were able to reduce their speed on the steeper downhill sections using their ski poles as brakes, by dragging the poles behind them in the snow. Nevertheless, the Canadian skiers finished with strong performances. H.P. Douglas, then president of the CASA reflecting on the Canadian performance, noted that the team was outmatched in skill levels but was not disgraced. Canada was well represented and the team performed effectively.
Opening date: February 11, 1928
Closing date: February 19, 1928
Candidate cities: Davos (SUI), Engelberg (SUI)
To return to 'Canada's Olympic Skiing/Snowboarding Memories' exhibit, please click here.
For a brief history of the Olympic Games, please click here.
To learn more about the skiing disciplines at the Olympic Winter Games, please click here.