In the ancient Olympics, no medals were awarded, the first-place winner was given an olive branch to wear on his head, with no prize for second and third place. It was not until the 1904 Summer Olympics in St. Louis that the custom of awarding gold, silver, and bronze for the first three place-getters began, a practice well established by the time of the first Winter Olympics in 1924.
The medals of the Winter Olympic Games have never had a common design, though they regularly feature snowflakes and the name of the event where the medal has been won.
2002 Salt Lake City Medals
On the front of the medals for the 2002 Salt Lake City Winter Olympics was the image of a man rising from the flames with a torch, representing the resilience of the human spirit and the power to inspire. On the back of the medal, the Greek goddess of victory Nike holds a small leaf, symbolizing the olive wreaths that were presented to the winners of the ancient Olympics in Greece. Each medal had a slightly unique shape, designed in the form of river rocks, such as those found in Utah waters.
2006 Turin Medals
The medals presented at the 2006 Turin Winter Olympics was round in shape with an empty space in the center, representing the Italian piazza. The medal was tied up with the ribbon passing though the hole in the middle. The reverse featured the pictogram of the sports discipline in which the medal was won.
2014 Sochi Medals
The design of the medals at the 2014 Sochi Winter Olympics was intended to resemble Sochi's landscape, with a semi-translucent section containing a "patchwork quilt" of diamonds representing mountains, with the diamonds themselves containing designs which reflect Russia's regions.
2022 Beijing Medals
The medals to be awarded at the Beijing 2022 Winter Olympics are simple and classic, and concave like the traditional jade pendant design. The design's five rings is based on Chinese ancient jade concentric circle pendants, the five rings representing the Olympic spirit. The medals also resemble the medals of the Summer Games in 2008, showcasing Beijing as the first city to host both Summer and Winter Games.
- Currently, the medals must have a minimum diameter of 70mm and be 3mm thick. The medal for first place must be gilded with at least 6g of pure gold.
- The largest and heaviest medals ever awarded to medal winners at an Olympics was at the 1936 Winter Games in Garmisch-Partenkirchen. They were 100 millimeters in diameter, four millimeters thick and weighed 342 grams.
- The medals at the 2002 Salt Lake City Winter Olympics had the phrase "Light the Fire Within" engraved on the front, the first time that a Games motto was written on an Olympic medal.
- The athletes at the Sochi Winter Olympics who won gold medals on 15 February 2014 received special medals with fragments of the Chelyabinsk meteor, marking the one-year anniversary of the event where pieces of the meteor landed in central Russia.
- About the Summer Games medals
- All about Winter Olympics Medal Winners
- Winter Olympics All Time Medal Tally — total medals won for every country
- Summer Olympics Medal Tallys
- Winter Olympics main page.