11 FASCINATING FACTS ABOUT THE WINTER OLYMPICS
11 FASCINATING FACTS ABOUT THE WINTER OLYMPICS The Winter Olympics is undoubtedly the top meeting event for winter sports, and it is held every four years under the wings of the International Olympic Committee (IOC). The first time the Winter Olympics were ever held was in 1924 in Chamonix, France, and they were originally called “International Winter Sports Week." A year later, in 1925, the IOC decided to organize Winter Olympic Games every four years, as a separate sporting event (independent from the Summer Olympics) and it was then that the “International Winter Sports Week” would be renamed and recognized as the first Winter Olympic Games in history. In the ninety years of Winter Olympics many things have changed and some have stayed the same. Here’s a good chance for you to learn or remember eleven awesome and not-so-awesome things about the world’s “coolest” Games ever.
1. THE WINTER OLYMPICS IS A POPULAR AND PROFITABLE BUSINESS NOWADAYS
For many years the Winter Olympics were criticized as incompatible with the Olympic ideal and even today some people still consider them to be less prestigious than the Summer Olympics. In spite of this, the fact is that the Winter Olympics are nowadays one of the biggest and most televised sporting events in the world. As you can see, numbers don’t lie: 88 nations are participating at the Sochi Winter Olympics with a total 2,800+ athletes, while it is estimated that more than 300 million people around the world watched the opening ceremony. Add into the mix that NBC has paid $775 million for the US broadcasting and digital rights to the Sochi Winter Olympics and you realize that we have a very popular and profitable business industry here.
2. NORWAY IS THE ABSOLUTE BOSS
Norway is easily the most successful nation in Winter Olympics history. With a population of only 5 million, Norway has won—not including the current medal count in Russia—a total of 303 medals with 107 of them being gold. If you add into the mix the 148 medals Norway has won from all the Summer Olympics, you have a total of 451 medals for both Games, and so Norway is undoubtedly the most athletic and successful nation statistically in Olympic Games’ history. In other words, and if this was a boxing match, Norway would be the pound-for-pound king.
3. ONLY FOUR ATHLETES HAVE WON MEDALS IN BOTH WINTER AND SUMMER OLYMPICS
Jacob Tullin Thams, of Norway, won a gold medal at the Winter Olympics in 1924 and a silver medal at the Summer Games in 1936.
Luding-Rothenburger, of East Germany, is the only athlete to ever win medals in both Winter and Summer Games in the same year (1988).
Clara Hughes, of Canada, won two bronze medals in cycling at the Summer Olympics in 1996 and six years later won another bronze in the 5,000-meter speed-skating event.
Last but not least, Eddie Eagan, of the United States, is the only athlete to this day to win a gold medal in both the Summer and Winter Olympics. He won the Light Heavyweight boxing tournament at the Summer Olympics in 1920 and was part of the four-man US Bobsled team that won gold at the Winter Olympics in 1932.
4. THE SOCHI OLYMPICS ARE THE MOST EXPENSIVE IN HISTORY
Vladimir Putin is probably the most badass president in the world today and he made sure to make a statement with the hosting of the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi. The games are not only the most expensive Winter Games in history but they will go down as the most expensive Games ever (Summer Olympics included), with the budget for these Games exceeding $51 billion, surpassing even the estimated $44 billion price tag of the 2008 Summer Olympics in Beijing. Vladimir is the boss. Period!
5. BJORN DAEHLIE IS THE MICHAEL PHELPS OF THE WINTER OLYMPICS
Before the Winter Olympics in Sochi, cross-country skier Bjørn Dæhlie, of Norway, used to be the single athlete with the most medals in the history of the Winter Olympics with a total of twelve, eight gold and four silver. Even though he still owns the record for most gold medals ever at the Winter Olympics, he’s now tied for total medals with his compatriot Ole Einar Bjørndalen, who won gold in the biathlon a few days ago and now has twelve medals as well, seven of them gold, four silver, and one bronze. We told you Norway rules, didn’t we?
6. SOCHI GOLD MEDALS CONTAIN WAY MORE SILVER
The Sochi gold medals are more like silver really, since they contain about 516 grams of silver and only 6 grams of gold. For the Russian athletes who win gold, however, they will be more like platinum since the boss, aka Vladimir Putin, has promised to reward $122,000 for every gold victory achieved by a Russian athlete. It’s all about the Olympic ideal and inspiration, right?
7. THE RICHEST WINTER OLYMPIC ATHLETE IN HISTORY
Snowboarder Shaun White may no longer be the best in the sport since he didn’t even medal this time (4th place) after his triumphs in the Winter Olympics of 2006 and 2010, but he remains the face of the sport and arguably the richest athlete from any winter sport in history. White’s net worth is over $20 million, and the only sure thing is that he will continue to earn millions from his endorsements for many years to come.
8. THE OLDEST WINTER OLYMPIC MEDAL WINNER WAS 83
No, that’s not a lie; it’s true. Don’t freak out or doubt before you read the story behind the fact, however. Anders Haugen became the oldest man to receive a Winter Olympic medal at the age of eighty-three. The Norwegian-American athlete actually received his ski jump bronze medal fifty years after he competed in 1924 when a scoring error was discovered in 1974. Technically he “won” the medal at age thirty-three, but realistically he wouldn’t be an officially recognized bronze medalist until 1974. The quotation “It’s never too late” just got a new meaning.
9. THE LAST TIME SUMMER AND WINTER OLYMPICS WERE HELD THE SAME YEAR
From 1924 to 1992, the Summer and Winter Olympics were held the same year, every four years. The last Summer and Winter Games held in the same year were in 1992 when the Summer Olympics took place in Barcelona, Spain, and the Winter Olympics were hosted in Albertville, France. Since then, the Winter Games have been held two years apart from the Summer Games, with the first Games under the new rules taking place in Lillehammer, Norway, where they were held in 1994.
10. SOCHI IS THE WARMEST CITY EVER TO HOST THE WINTER OLYMPICS
Despite the fact that Russia is synonymous with snow, cold weather, and subzero temperatures, Sochi is actually the warmest city ever to host the Winter Olympic Games. However, there are not expected to be any significant problems because of this, but many analysts worry that many former Winter Olympic venues may not be cold enough to host the games by the mid-twenty-first century. And the reason why? What else . . . global warming.
11. TECHNOLOGY CONQUERS THE WINTER OLYMPICS, TOO
The emblem of the Sochi Olympics, “sochi2014.ru” is the first Olympic emblem in history that also forms a web address. It was designed this way to actively encourage dialogue between local Russian citizens but also between nations and winter sports fans around the world, facilitated by Sochi 2014's online platforms. As for the motto of the current Winter Olympics? “Hot. Cool and Yours.” Yay!!!!!!
Written by Theodoros II for TCMag