Winter Olympics Facts and Trivia
Here are some interesting facts and figures from past Winter Olympics games. See also the page on Summer Olympics trivia, and also Winter Olympics Firsts.
- The first Winter Olympic Games were held in Chamonix, France in 1924. more 'Firsts' Trivia.
- Unlike the Summer Olympics, the canceled 1940 and 1944 Winter Olympics are not included in the official Roman numeral counts for the Winter Games.
- No country in the Southern Hemisphere has ever hosted a Winter Games (see the list of all hosts).
- Gillis Grafström became the first person to win a medal in the same event in the Summer and Winter Olympics, winning figure skating golds at the 1920 Olympics and in the same event at the first Winter Olympics in 1924.
- Only five athletes have ever won medals at both the Winter and Summer Olympic Games (excluding Gillis Grafström): Eddie Eagan (United States), Jacob Tullin Thams (Norway), Christa Luding-Rothenburger (East Germany), Clara Hughes (Canada), and Lauryn Williams (USA). Eddie Eagan is the only athlete to have won gold medals at both Winter and Summer Olympics - he won gold at the 1920 Games in boxing, and also won gold at the 1932 Lake Placid Games in the team bobsled event. Clara Hughes is the only person ever to have won multiple medals in both. Christa Luding is the only person to win medals at the Winter and Summer Games in the same year. (This feat is no longer possible as the Winter and Summer games are now 2 years apart)
Olympic podium in the mountains
- At the 1960 games at Squaw Valley, California USA, in an effort to impress spectators, Walt Disney was the head of the committee that organized the opening day ceremonies. The Opening Ceremony was filled with high school choirs and bands, releasing of thousands of balloons, fireworks, ice statues, releasing of 2,000 white doves, and national flags dropped by parachute.
- The largest and heaviest medals ever awarded to medal winners at an Olympics was at the 1936 Winter Games in Garmisch-Partenkirchen. The medals were 100mm in diameter, 4mm thick and weighed 342 grams.
- The world's youngest Olympic skier was Seba Johnson from the US Virgin Islands. She was aged 14 when she competed in the giant slalom and Super-G at the 1988 winter Olympics in Calgary, Canada.
- Liechtenstein is the only nation to win medals at the Winter Games but not at the Summer Games.
- Three nations have won more medals at the Winter Games than at the Summer Games: Norway, Austria and Liechtenstein.
- Twelve countries have participated in every Winter Olympic Games – Austria, Canada, Finland, France, Great Britain, Hungary, Italy, Norway, Poland, Sweden, Switzerland and the United States.
- Six countries have won medals at every Winter Olympic Games – Austria, Canada, Finland, Norway, Sweden, and the United States, though the the USA is the only country to have won a gold medal at every one.
- Three nations to have taken part in all Winter and Summer editions of the Olympic Games: France, Switzerland and Great Britain.
- The 1976 Winter OLympics were originally awarded to Denver, Colorado. They are the only country to ever pull out after being awarded the games.
- At the 2002 Winter Olympics, dual gold medals were awarded in pairs figure skating, to Canadian pair Jamie Salé and David Pelletier and to Russian pair Elena Berezhnaya and Anton Sikharulidze, after allegations of collusion among judges.
- At the 2010 Winter Olympics, Latvian athlete Haralds Silovs became the first athlete in Olympic history to participate in both short track (1500m) and long track (5000m) speed skating, and also became the first to compete in two different disciplines on the same day.
- In 2014, a team event was added to the figure skating program, requiring the competition to start a day before the Opening ceremony. This will be the first time in the history of the Winter Olympics that competitions will be held before the Opening ceremony.
- The Sochi 2014 Olympic Torch was the first to travel in space - one leg of the relay involved a spacewalk by Russian cosmonauts.
Sochi stadium and flame
- In 2014, two gold medals, to Dominique Gisin of Switzerland and Tina Maze of Slovenia, were awarded for a first-place tie in the Women's downhill event in alpine skiing, the first gold medal tie ever for an Olympic alpine skiing event. No silver medal was awarded.
- Japan's Noriaki Kasai has the record for the most appearances by an athlete at the Winter Olympics in 2018. The Japanese ski jumper participated in eight straight Olympics, from 1992 until 2018.
- Winning a gold medal can be lucrative: in 2014, any Kazakhstani athlete who claimed gold could earn a cool US$250,000 for their efforts. Latvia offerred its athletes US$192,000 for a gold medal, with Ukranian gold medalists up for US$150,000.
- Turkmenistan is the only ex-Soviet republic to not compete in the Winter Olympics. They are also the northernmost country in the world to have never competed in the Winter Olympics.
- German speed skater Claudia Pechstein is the oldest female to compete at the Winter Olympics. She competed in her eighth Winter Olympics in Beijing 2022, aged 49 years 348 days.
- For more trivia, see the specific pages on each Winter Games.