Winter games

So that’s it. The 2010 Winter Olympic Games are over.

As you might imagine, I have some things to say about them, but not now. Earlier this evening, as I watched the closing ceremonies, I got sucked into the Wikipedia entries for the previous Winter Games. Here are some facts that I found interesting, starting with the first Winter Games:

The first Winter Olympic Games were given that title only afterwards. In 1921, the IOC decided to give winter sports equal standing, and in conjunction with the 1924 Summer Games in Paris, France held what was originally called Semaine Internationale des Sports d’Hiver (International Winter Sports Week) in Chamonix.

In those 1924 games, the Canadian hockey team finished the four qualifying games with a combined score of 110-3 against Switzerland, Czechoslovakia, Sweden, and Great Britain.

Military patrol was a part of the first winter olympics in 1924. It became an official sport in the 1960 games as the biathlon.

In 1925, the IOC decided to have a Winter Olympic Games every four years, and retroactively recognize the Semaine Internationale des Sports d’Hiver as the first Winter Games.

In the 1928 Winter Games, held in St. Moritz, Switzerland, Skijoring was a demonstration sport. It involves a skier being pulled by a horse.

The last time the United States led the medal standings, before Vancouver in 2010, was in Lake Placid Winter Games in 1932.

Sled dog racing was a demontration sport.

The 1936 Winter Games were held in Garmisch-Partenkirchen, Germany. This was the last winter games held in the same country as the summer games of the same year.

Sonja Henie won her third consecutive gold medal in woman’s figure skating. She also won in 1924, though it was a demonstration sport that year. She was eleven years old in 1924.

The 1940 and 1944 Winter Games were cancelled because of World War II.

Although St. Moritz, Switzerland hosted the winter games in 1928, it was selected to host the 1948 games, partly because Switzerland was neutral during the war.

Winter pentathlon was a demonstration sport in the 1948 winter games. It included cross-country skiing, shooting, downhill-skiing, fencing, and horse riding. This pentathlon didn’t appear in any subsequent winter games.

The ice hockey event of the 1948 games was almost cancelled after two teams arrived, both claiming to represent the United States.

In the 1952 winter games, held in Oslo, Norway, Antoin Miliordos competed in the slalom. He didn’t win, falling 18 times, and crossing the finish line backwards.

Bandy was one of the two demonstration sports. It looks a lot like field-hockey on skates, played on an ice rink the size of a soccer field. The other demonstration sport was pulka, in which a cross-country skier pulls a toboggan.

The 1956 winter games were held in Cortina d’Ampezzo, Italy. This was the first games broadcast on television, and the first to rely heavily on corporate sponsorship.

The Cortina games were the last to have the figure skating event outdoors.

The 1956 winter games were the first winter games in which the Soviet Union participated. They won more medals than any other country during those Winter Games.

The 1960 winter games, held in Squaw Valley, California, was the first Winter Games held in North America in 28 years.

Squaw Valley built the first Olympic Village to house the athletes.

For the first time, officials asked the media if they could review a videotape of the men’s slalom because they were unsure if a skier had missed a gate.

The 1964 games, held in Innsbruck, Austria, was the first to feature the luge.

Drug and gender testing were first ordered during the 1968 games, held in Grenoble, France.

The bobsleigh runs were all scheduled just before or after dawn because the track didn’t have enough refrigeration to keep the ice solid during the day.

The 1964 games were the first broadcast in colour.

The 1972 games in Sapporo, Japan was the first winter games held outside Europe and North America.

This was the last winter games in which a gold medal winning skier used all-wooden skis.

Canada refused to send a hockey team because professional hockey players from Communist nations were allowed to compete.

The IOC president threatened to disqualify 40 alpine skiers because they had endorsement deals and the IOC president thought this invalidated their amateur status.

Security was a major concern for the first time during the 1976 winter games in Innsbruck, Austria. This was because of the eleven Israeli athletes and coaches that were killed during the 1972 summer games in Munich.

High tech equipment started to appear in skating and skiing.

Ice dancing appeared as an olympic sport.

Artificial snow was used for the first time during the 1980 games in Lake Placid, New York.

Eric Heiden won five speed skating gold medals making him the first person to five individual gold medals in one winter games.

The dorms in the Olympic village were later turned into a prison.

The 1984 games, held in Sarajevo, Yugoslavia, was the first Winter Games hosted by a socialist country.

The closing ceremony was held indoors, and the next time this happened for a Winter Games was 2010.

During the 1988 Winter Games in Calgary, no Canadians won gold medals. We’d have to wait until 2010, the third Olympic games held in Canada, to win gold at home.

East Germany came in second in the medal standings. This was their last Olympics before Germany unified in 1990.

The Super G debuted as an Olympic sport. Curling, Freestyle skiing, and short track speed skating were demonstration sports.

The 1992 games in Albertville, France, were the last to be held in the same year as the summer games.

Germany competed as a single team for the first time since the 1936 winter games.

The moguls, short-track speed skating, and women’s biathlon appeared as olympic sports.

American figure skater Midori Ito was the first woman to successfully land a triple axel at the Olympics.

Demonstration sports included curling, the freestyle skiing disciplines of ski ballet and aerials, and speed skiing.

To this day, the 1992 winter games were the last to feature any demonstration sports.

Speed skating was held in an outdoor venue for the last time.

The 1994 games, held in Lillehammer, Norway, occurred only two years after the 1992 games. The IOC decided to have the summer and winter games alternate every two years rather than occur during the same year, every four years. Making this change had the winter games happen twice in two years.

Curling and snowboarding debuted as Olympic sports in the 1998 Nagano, Japan winter games.

In the 2002 Salt Lake City winter games, skeleton was an Olympic sport for the first time since 1948.

Mass start biathlon, team sprint cross-country skiing, snowboard cross, and team pursuit speedskating debuted at the 2006 Winter Games held in Turin, Italy.

The 2010 Winter Games in Vancouver marked the first time the men’s and women’s hockey events were played on NHL-sized rinks rather than the 4 metre wider European rinks.

Skicross debuted as an Olympic sport.

Proposed and rejected events included biathlon mixed relay, mixed doubles curling, team alpine skiing, team bobsled and skeleton, team luge, and women’s ski jumping

For the first time, Canada won gold during games hosted in Canada.

Canada was the first host nation to lead the gold medal count since Norway in 1952.

Canada won the most gold medals at a single Winter Games with 14. The previous record was 13, set by the Soviet Union in 1976 and then tied by Norway in 2002.

The United States led the medal standings with a total of 37 medals. The last time they won the most medals at a Winter Games was in 1932.

The United States won 37 medals, the most won at any single Winter Games by one country.

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