January 7, 2014
I was recently reminiscing with Mormor about Chicago in the wintertime and we remembered the Great Snowball Fight of 2012! What a wonderful time the residents and staff had playing out in the snow like they were children again! That’s just what snowfall does to us all, especially those of us living here in the Midwest, where a deluge of snow is not such a surprising occurrence!
However, with the near-record breaking low temperatures and massive snowstorms of late (given names like Hercules, Polar Vortex and ChiBeria), the hibernation season is quite upon us. It is a time to hunker down, nestle in and stay within the confines of our cozy homes until the spring thaw.
Speaking of nestling in, another great aspect of wintertime, especially this year is The 2014 Winter Olympics. This wonderful biennial celebration of sportsmanship and friendly competition began in Chamonix, France in 1924. The summer and winter Olympics actually occurred in the same year up until 1994, when the current practice of holding the Winter Games two years after the Summer Games began.
I suppose if we must be confined to our homes at least having some world-class entertainment to keep us occupied makes it all the better!
Although to date no Olympic games have ever been held in Chicago (although we bid for the 2016 summer games back in 2007-2009) or Denmark, other Scandinavian countries have had the privilege of hosting:
(click on the links below to read more about these amazing games throughout history)
1912 (summer) Stockholm, Sweden
1952 (summer)Helsinki, Finland
1952 (winter) Oslo, Norway
1994 (winter) Lillehammer, Norway
Danes in the Olympics:
According to the Official Website of Denmark, “In the 27 Games since 1896 Denmark has won a total of 43 gold medals, 63 silver medals and 64 bronze medals which makes it the 21st most successful nation of all time. Denmark is actually the fourth most successful Olympic nation ever, surpassed only by Finland, Sweden and Hungary.”
Danes have won the most medals in the Summer Olympics, specifically in rowing and sailing, which makes sense considering Denmark is surrounded by water.
Unfortunately, the Winter Games have not fared so well for Denmark. They have only medaled once, a Silver medal in the Nagano games in 1998 by the women’s curling team. Yet, still something to be very proud of – way to go, ladies!
Of course, while reading all about The Olympic Games throughout history I became interested in knowing the impact they had on the world a hundred years ago.
After all, the modern-day games began in 1896 (and can be traced back to 776 BC). Although today we can gather around the television and watch events happening in real-time halfway around the world, back then they didn’t have this luxury. They would’ve gotten their Olympic updates from the newspaper.
Recently, while digging through the hope chest I did find an article about the Danish-American Sport Club from 1914. It is from Revyen, which was a weekly Danish/Norwegian newspaper distributed in Chicago from the 1890s until 1921. This particular article caught my eye for two reasons:
First, because there was a hand-written note at the top that read, ‘member Hansen’s relative’. I can only assume that the author of the note was referring to a previous member by the name of Mrs. John P. Hansen, who was one of the original founders. The relative of hers must be Rudy Hansen, mentioned in the article below.
Second, because it refers to Danish men who came to Chicago and organized a sports club, many of whom represented Denmark in the Stockholm Olympic games of 1912. How very interesting!
The article reads:
Revyen, March 7, 1914
Danish American Athletic Club is the name of the latest organization for the promotion of sports among Danes in Chicago.
It has been established by young countrymen, many of whom have recently arrived from Denmark, where they have starred in many branches of sport, and they possess the will and the courage to go to bat for the Danish colors and traditions on this side of the ocean.
The president of the club is the long distance runner Christian Christensen, who came to Chicago several years ago, and has won many 10- and 15- mile races; he has also placed first on shorter distances. Up to now he belonged to the Norwegian club Sleipner.
The vice-president is John Steen, who at one time held the middle-weight boxing championship of Europe, and also was a member of the Danish Olympic track team in Stocholm last year.
The secretary of the new club, Steen Rasmussen represented Denmark at the last Olympic marathon race, and has also competed successfully in indoor races here, even though he had been accustomed to outdoor races only.
Rudy Hansen has also won laurels as a runner in Denmark, where he was known by the nickname “the banana,” due to the fact that he, like Christensen and Steen Rasmussen, is a vegetarian.
The club already has about one hundred members, some of which are passive and not of Danish nationality, but according to its laws all officers must be Danes. The first issue of a monthly club publication is just off the press.
The management is soon to decide on a permanent meeting place and training facilities, and plans are already under way for the acquisition of a clubowned home and gymnasium. The most optimistic souls within the club are looking for a membership of one thousand within a short time.
The D.A.A.C. will make its first appearance before Danish Chicago at the National festival in Riverview Park next summer.
After looking into it a little more, I found that the DAAC is still around today! It is yet another testament of our strong Danish heritage here in Chicago. It just goes to show you that our great country, and the city of Chicago, were founded and built by many strong, dedicated, enthusiastic people who came from all over the world with so many amazing skills and stories. Much like the Olympics itself!
Will you be tuning in to The Olympic Winter Games to see who will represent the US and Danish teams, and who will medal? I know I will.
How much do you know about The Olympic Games? Go here to find out!
Don’t forget about The VOX3 Collective: Music & Masquerades Winter festival celebrating Danish Arts & Culture taking place here in Chicago through January! It features a free interactive concert for children exploring the tales of Hans Christian Andersen, Carl Nielsen’s Maskarade opera; The Silvered Heavens recital: Swedish, Danish and Norwegian melodies to warm the heart; and a Scandinavian Symphonic Sampler. Gå ikke glip af det! (Don’t miss it!)