10 things you didn't know about the Winter Olympics

10 things you didn't know about the Winter Olympics

24 November 2014 / 16:25

Norway are the most successful Winter Olympic nation

Despite having a population of just over 5m people, Norway can boast the proud record of having won the most medals in Winter Olympic history.

With 118 golds and 329 in total, the Norwegians sit first on both all-time lists with the USA the next best challengers with 96 and 281 respectively. Team GB sit 19th with 26 medals; 10 gold, four silver and 12 bronze.

 

Figure skating began life in the Summer Olympics

Ice is usually associated with the colder months these days but figure skating first featured in the Olympics at the 1908 London Summer Games. The trend continued at Antwerp 1920 before switching across for the inaugural Winter Olympics at Chamonix 1924.  

Ice hockey followed a similar route, competing at Antwerp 1920 before moving across to the colder climate of Chamonix four years later.

 

Only one athlete has won gold at the Summer and Winter Games in different sports

American Eddie Eagan can certainly class himself a well-rounded sportsman. Not only did the athlete win boxing gold at the 1920 Antwerp Summer Games, but Eagan followed it up 12 years later by helping his country win the four-man bobsleigh at Lake Placid 1932.

Swedish figure skater Gillis Grafstrom won gold in the summer of 1920, and then again at the inaugural Winter Olympics at Chamonix 1924, but both successes were in his one sport as figure skating switched Games from summer to winter.

 

Silver is the new gold

Lizzy Yarnold was pretty pleased to be crowned Olympic champion in February but did you know her medal actually contained 516 grams of silver and only six grams of gold?

 

Warm weather s-no problem at Innsbruck

A lack of snow and ice hit the Winter Games of 1964 and the Austrian army were called in to help combat the warm weather.

After shipping 20,000 blocks of ice and 40,000 cubic metres of snow from surrounding mountains, the troops then proceeded to pack the slopes down using their hands and feet!

 

Ole Einar Bjoerndalen the most decorated Winter Olympian ever

As we’ve already seen, Norway boasts some pretty handy winter athletes but perhaps none more so than biathlon legend Ole Einar Bjoerndalen.

Known as ‘The King of Biathlon’, Bjoerndalen has won a record 13 Winter Olympic medals, one more than fellow Norwegian and cross-country skier Bjorn Daehlie.  

Bjoerndalen began his Olympic career at Lillehammer 1994 before winning his first medals four years later in Nagano. 16 years later he was still at it, finally clinching his 13th medal and eighth gold at Sochi 2014.

 

British success at first ever Winter Games

Britain’s medal haul of four at Chamonix 1924, the first ever Winter Olympics, still sits as our best ever - although this was equalled in February after the superb efforts at Sochi 2014.

After winning gold in curling, a silver in the four-man bobsleigh and bronze in ice hockey and women’s singles figure skating, Britain finished sixth in the medal table and equalled the USA’s overall total at the Games.

 

Only two countries south of the equator have won Winter Olympic medals

The southern hemisphere is understandably far better renowned for its summer sport success with only Australia and New Zealand flying the flag for Winter Olympic medal wins.

The Kiwis won their one and only medal at Albertville 1992 with Annelise Coberger taking silver in the women’s slalom while Australia boast 12 medals in total, including three at Sochi 2014.

 

The Sochi 2014 Olympic Torch was the first to travel in space 

Over 14,000 bearers carried the Sochi 2014 Olympic torch on its 65,000km journey, from the world’s deepest lake all the way up to the International Space Station.

The torch, unlit, was then taken on a historic space walk before being returned to earth as part of its journey to the Opening Ceremony of the Winter Olympic Games.

 

Dominique Gisin and Tina Maze tie first ever Olympic alpine skiing gold

Sochi 2014 threw up some incredibly tight finishes but not event was as close as the women’s downhill with Switzerland’s Dominique Gisin and Tina Maze of Slovenia becoming the first ever pair of athletes to share a skiing gold medal.

No silver was awarded at Rosa Khutor and both skiers took to the top step of the podium together to both collect their gold medals.