• Alex 50km Lahti Champion
  • St. Moritz, Switzerland, Feb 11-19, 1928

    Merritt Putnam
    William Thompson

    With three athletes and two support personnel selected two months prior to competition, Canada entered the Olympic cross country fray in 1928. After missing a week of training while at sea on route to Europe, skiers William Thompson of McGill University and Merritt Putnam of Toronto concentrated on the cross country sprint and nordic combined events. With the trails made known to the athletes only the night before the events, no Canadians competed in the 50 kilometre endurance test won by Sweden’s Per-Eric Hedlund in 4:52:03, still the slowest time ever for the event.

    Numerous falls troubled Thompson and Putnam on the icy 18 kilometre course as they settled for 37th and 40th spot among 44 finishers in 2:12:24 and 2:22:40 respectively. Norwegian Hohan Grottumsbraaten took gold in 1:37:01, reflecting the lack of major trail preparations other than marking them in the ‘good old days’. Putnam concluded his Olympic thoughts with, "Although outclassed, Canada was by no means disgraced. Given a few more years, we will surely give our Norwegian friends a great run for premier honours."