I hope many of you watched and enjoyed the 2014 Sochi Olympics, and are looking forward to the 2018 games in Pyeongchang, South Korea. If you’re a fan of sports on snow and ice, then here’s an article packed with some interesting facts about the Winter Olympics over its 90 year history. Only 3 more years to go until we get to see some epic performances and events!
Winter Olympics Held With The Summer Olympics
The Summer Olympics and the Winter Olympics were actually held in the same year for quite some time, and this changed during the 1992 and 1994 winter games which were hosted by France and Norway respectively. Now, the summer and winter games alternate every 2 years.
Bjorn Daehlie Is The Most Successful Competitor
Bjorn Daehlie is like the Nadia Comaneci or Michael Phelps of the winter games. He’s got 8 gold medals and 4 silver medals in cross-country skiing. That’s quite the impressive feat, no matter what sport you play!
Norway’s Got A Lot Of Medals
Did I mention that 8 time gold medalist Bjorn Daehlie is from Norway? Norway’s amassed over 300 medals since the beginning of the winter games in 1924. Considering the size of Norway compared to larger countries like USA, Russia, and Canada, this is an amazing accomplishment.
13 Years Old
The South Korean speed skater Yun-Mi Kim was only 13 years old when she competed in the 1994 Lillehamer games. Her age didn’t hinder her whatsoever, since she won a gold medal in the 3000 m relay. I could barely skate on ice at the age of 13!
54 Years Old
While I wouldn’t want to see a 54 year old man speed skate, I could totally understand if they were playing a sport such as curling. Robin Welsh Sr. was 54 years old when he competed in the 1924 winter games in Chamonix, France. Welsh was representing Great Britain.
Eddie The Eagle
As cool of a nickname “Eddie the Eagle” is, his record is actually not that cool. He was labeled the world’s worst ski jumper because he’d always finish last in every event that he competed in. I guess eagles can’t ski jump after all.
The Jamaican Bobsled Team
The Jamaican bobsledding team famously assembled 4 months prior to the Calgary games. Even though they had little to no experience and didn’t finish the course due to crashing, the other bobsledders displayed great sportsmanship and commended their efforts.
The USA Hosts A Lot
The United States of America has held the most Winter Olympics to date. They’ve hosted twice at Lake Placid, once in Salt Lake City, and once in Squaw Valley. That’s surprising, considering how much their neighbor Canada loves winter sports.
Nancy Kerrigan And Tonya Harding
There was a lot of controversy surrounding American figure skaters Nancy Kerrigan and Tonya Harding during the 1994 Lillehammer games because Tonya Harding’s husband apparently attacked Kerrigan right before her performance. Kerrigan won a silver medal, while Harding placed eighth.
1998 Nagano Games
The 1998 Nagano games were disrupted because there was too much snow in the area. That’s pretty funny, considering how snow would hamper the Winter Olympics of all things. There was also quite the flu epidemic going around Nagano, Japan during this time too.
The Pragelato Vialattea is a tourist resort in Italy that is built on top of the winter games site. You can even explore and walk around the same tracks and courses that Olympic athletes used during the games!
10,004 People Were Paid To Watch The Olympics
10,004 people were paid to watch the 1924 Olympics in Chamonix, France. Since it was the first Winter Olympics ever, I suppose that people running the event needed viewers to tune in and watch so that they would be inclined to watch the Olympics in the future.
During the entire history of the Winter Olympics, there have been a total of 4 deaths during the events. There were two luge-related deaths and two skiing related deaths, both during practice runs of a course. Some sports are dangerous no matter what kinds of protection you have, I suppose. Pictured below is Nodar Kumaritashvili during the 2010 Vancouver games.
A Lack Of Snow
There wasn’t enough snow at the 1964 Innsbruck games, so Austrian soldiers had to haul giant blocks of snow and ice from the Austrian mountains for the ski slopes and luge events. But seriously, if your city doesn’t get enough snow and ice, why host the winter games there in the first place?
The 1984 Sarajevo Bobsled Track
During the Yugoslav Wars in 1991, the bobsled track in Sarajevo from the 1984 winter games was used as an artillery post for Serbians. It’s quite sad to realize how games that were meant to bring nations together are ironically being used as sites of warfare between warring countries.