Though the winter Olympics doesn't have as many sports as the summer Olympics, and its following is not as large, it's still one of the biggest sporting events in the world. All of the countries that experience snowy winters send athletes to compete, along with some countries that don't even get any snow at all! To help you get swept up in the atmosphere of Olympic fever and the parties that always surrounds the winter Olympics, here are some fun facts on winter Olympic sports, venues, and athletes.
Like the summer Olympics, the winter Olympics is held every four years. But since it's schedule is staggered from the summer schedule, Olympics fans really only have to wait two years to have another Olympics experience. The first winter Olympic Games were held at Chamonix-Mount Blanc, France in 1924. Except for the war years of 1940 and 1944, there were Olympic Games every four years since then. The next one will be in Sochi, Russia.
Hosting the winter Olympics presents very different challenges than hosting the summer Olympics. Generally a city needs to have a large population and economy to support the games, but also needs to have access to plains and mountainous areas where sports like cross country and downhill skiing can be held. This is not a common confluence, which is why Toronto will never achieve its dream of serving Olympic athletes, despite Toronto's bitterly cold winters.
Though some famous athletes, like Eddie 'the Eagle' Edwards, saw success in the winter games after signing up for the sport on a lark without much experience, most winter Olympic athletes spend years training in both winter and summer for their events. They attend camps, cross train in the spring, and ski their little hearts out all winter. Some of the most inspiring stories of hard work include the Jamaican bobsled team that participated in the 1988 Calgary Olympics, and the 1980 men's hockey team that triumphed over the Russians in Lake Placid, both of which are subjects of popular films. Local Alberta business', one being Infinity Dental (dentist in Edmonton) for example, helped sponsor and send volunteers to Olympic events, remember the buzz around the games and the news headlines when such an unlikely team won.
If you're interested in someday becoming an Olympic athlete, stop lounging around and get out there and start training. There are fifteen different sports you can choose from, including downhill skiing, cross country skiing, skating, hockey, curling, snowboarding, bobsled, luge, and skeleton, many of which have different sub-disciplines focusing on speed, artistry, jumping, or agility. For a sport to be included in the winter Olympics, it must take place on snow or ice, but not all sports make it into the Olympics. Snowman building, snowshoeing, and ice fishing are examples of sports that haven't made it.