Ski artifacts: Anders Haugen’s 1924 Olympic Winter Games parade coat
Special to the Daily
The U.S. Olympic parade coat, one of the most important artifacts in the museum’s collection, was worn by American ski jumper Anders Haugen during the Winter Games of 1924 for all official ceremonies and gatherings in which the ski team participated. The coat is presumed to have been created by the Hudson Bay Co. of Canada and is called a Capote.
The 1924 Olympic capote is made of felted, twill-weave wool. It is white or natural color with printed bold stripes in black, yellow, red and green-blue. There is fringe along the top of the shoulders and sleeves and along the top front opening of the coat made of the same wool fabric, along with a tall, pointed hood.
The capote was easy to make, very warm and water repellant, making it perfect for winter conditions. Affixed to the left chest of the coat is an Olympic emblem. The Olympic rings are shown across the top and surrounded by a blue border, while the bottom of the patch features vertical red and white stripes.
Editor’s note: The following is part of a series of articles compiled by the Colorado Snowsports Museum and Hall of Fame that will take a closer look at some of the artifacts and stories contained in the museum’s archives. The Colorado Snowsports Museum, located in the Vail Transportation Center, is currently undergoing a $2.4 million privately funded transformation that will refurbish the 24-year-old facility, add new exhibit space and modernize exhibits with interactive technology. Skiing and the 10th Mountain Division are the cornerstones of Vail’s history and success, which the museum preserves and celebrates year-round. The museum has been a favorite family-friendly visitor attraction in Vail for 41 years and, with these improvements, will become the most comprehensive ski museum in the world.
VAIL — From a very young age, we are taught that patience is a virtue and that good things come to those who wait. However, one could easily argue that waiting 50 years for something you have earned constitutes a bit more than simply virtue.
Such is the story of transplanted Norwegian ski jumper Anders Haugen. Born in Telemark, Norway, Haugen and his brother Lars immigrated to the United States in 1909. Carrying on the tradition of their homeland, one of the first things the brothers did was to build a ski jump with the Milwaukee Ski Club west of the city in Wisconsin in an effort to introduce the public to the sport. The Haugen brothers would later relocate to northwestern Wisconsin before heading west to Frisco.
Captain of U.S. Olympic Team
An extremely accomplished ski jumper, Anders Haugen set a world record of 152 feet in 1911 in Ironwood, Michigan, en route to winning the National Championship. Between 1910 and 1920, the Haugen brothers would win the U.S. National Championships 11 times. In 1920, Anders set a new world record of 214 feet on the ski jump in Dillon.
As the inaugural Olympic Winter Games of 1924 approached, Haugen was elected captain of the U.S. Olympic Ski Team. He would lead the group of six American cross-country and jumping athletes to Chamonix, France, for the International Winter Sports Week, organized by the French Olympic Committee in association with the 1924 Summer Games.
It was only in 1925 that the International Olympic Committee decided to hold Winter Olympic Games independent of the Summer Olympics that the event would have its named changed to Olympic Winter Games.
As the ski-jumping competition neared on Feb. 4, the Norwegian team consisted of a pair of jumping specialists, Narve Bonna and Jacob Tullin Thams, along with two great all-around threats in Einar Landvik and Thorleif Haug. The only serious contender possibly standing in the way of a Norwegian podium sweep was considered to be Anders Haugen, known for his long and daring jumps, but also for his rugged style and unstable landings.
In the opening round, Thams took the lead, with Bonna in second, Haugen in third and Haug in fourth. The second round saw Haugen produce what would be the longest jump of the competition, but he was penalized with low style points for his landing. In the final standings, it was indeed the clean sweep for the Norwegians that most had predicted — a gold medal for Thams, silver to Bonna and the bronze to Haug. Haugen finished fourth.
However, this was not to be the end of the story. In 1974, at the 50th reunion of the 1924 Norwegian team, Norwegian sports historian Jacob Vaage was going over the results when he noticed an error. Haugen had correctly been given 17.916 points, but Haug’s scores added up to 17.821, not the 18.000 with which he had been credited.
The IOC was notified and verified the claim, awarding the bronze medal to Haugen, then an elderly gentleman of 85. He was invited to Norway and, at a special ceremony, Haug’s bronze medal from 1924 was handed over to Haugen by Anna Maria Magnussen, Haug’s youngest daughter, forever securing his legacy as the first American Winter Olympic medalist and the only U.S. athlete to ever win an Olympic medal in ski jumping.
Anders Haugen was elected to the Colorado Snowsports Hall of Fame in 1978.
The graduates of Vail Mountain School’s class of 2019 will be off to far-flung destinations next fall, set to enter college in one of 16 different states or explore the world on a gap year. One grad is even attending college in Canada.