After all the excitement of the Summer Olympics, fans will be able to sit down and enjoy the Winter Olympics over the next couple of weeks. For the first time ever, the event will be staged in China, as Beijing host the Winter Olympic Games. Read on to find out everything you need to know to about the Winter Olympics this year.
When & Where is The Winter Olympics Taking Place?
For the first time in the history of the Winter Olympics, the games will be held in Beijing, China. It is also the second consecutive Winter Olympics to be held in Asia, as the 2018 games were held in Pyeongchang, South Korea. Furthermore, it is the third straight Olympics that will be held in Asia, following the successful Summer Olympics last year.
The Winter Olympics will get underway on Friday 4th February with the opening ceremony and will take place over two weeks before the closing ceremony on Sunday 20th February, where the hosting duties will be handed over to Milan and Cortina d’Ampezzo for the 2026 Games.
What Sports Will Be Competing?
It will be an exciting winter of sporting action, with 109 medals up for grabs across seven sports and 15 disciplines. Many of the arenas that will be used throughout the games were already established before Beijing won the host city status. Four of the venues that will be used for the Winter Olympics were built before the city hosted the 2008 Summer Olympics.
Meanwhile, Beijing will make history when hosting the Winter Olympics, as it becomes the first city to host both the Winter and Summer events. The sports that stars will be competing for medals in can be found below:
- Ice Hockey
History Of The Winter Olympics
The first-ever Winter Olympics were staged in 1924 in Chamonix, France. Like the Summer Olympics, the IOC are the governing body of the Games and is in control of the structure of the events, as well as determining the host nation. At the very first Winter Olympics, there were five sports competed. The five sports that made up the inaugural Winter Olympics were bobsleigh, ice hockey, Nordic skating, skating and curling.
In the early history of the Winter Olympics, the event was held in the same year as the Summer Games. However, this was changed in 1992 as it was decided by the IOC that the Winter and Summer games would have different four-year cycles. Following the 1992 Winter Olympics, there was a quick turnaround, as the next games were held in 1994. Due to the popularity of the games, more sports have been added to the event, including speed skating, luge, skeleton and snowboarding.
Hosting the Winter Olympics is seen as a huge honour, and 12 countries across three continents have been bestowed that honour. The United States has held the event on four occasions, while France has held the Winter Olympics on three occasions. Other hosts throughout the history of the event, include Norway, Japan, Canada and South Korea. For the first time, China will host the Olympic Winter Games 2022.
Most Successful Countries At The Winter Olympics
Norway is the most successful country at the Winter Olympics. The country has won 132 gold medals at the Winter Olympics, and 368 total medals in the 23 games that they have participated in. Along with the United States, Finland, Italy, Austria, Sweden and Switzerland, Norway has participated in the Winter Olympics. The United States sit second on the overall medals table, having won 307 in total, with 105 of those being gold. Germany is third overall with 93 gold medals, despite only participating in 12 Winter Olympics.
Norway has also topped the medal leaderboard on most occasions, as they have finished in the top spot on eight occasions. The Soviet Union achieved that feat on seven occasions, while Germany managed to top the medal leaderboard on three occasions. Russia, Sweden, East Germany, Canada and the United States have also ended a Winter Olympics with the most medals.
Australia At The Winter Olympics
Australia has sent teams to the Winter Olympics since the 1936 Games. However, on that occasion, they sent just one athlete and didn’t pick up a single medal. The number of athletes sent to the Games reached a high in 1960, as 31 Australians were sent to the Winter Olympics in Squaw Valley. However, it wasn’t until the 1994 Winter Olympics in Lillehammer, Norway, that the country would get their first medal.
The honour of winning the first medal at the games was awarded to the Australian men’s 5000-metre relay in short-track speed skating, as they won bronze behind Italy and the United States. Australia’s first-ever gold medallist at the Winter Olympics came at the 2002 Games in the United States, as Steven Bradbury added to the bronze that he won in 1994 when coming out on top in the men’s 1000m.
Australia would win more gold at the Winter Olympics in Vancouver in 2010, as two more gold medals took their overall haul to five. Lydia Lassila and Torah Bright both won golds in freestyle skiing and snowboarding, respectively. Freestyle skiing has been the country’s most dominant event, as Australia have won three golds, three silvers and two bronzes in the sport.
Leading Australian Hopes At The Games
Australia sent their second-highest number of athletes to the Games in Pyeongchang, but returned home with just three medals. Matt Graham and Jarryd Hughes both won silvers in freestyle skiing and snowboarding, respectively. Both could have outstanding chances in their events this year and could be solid picks for bettors who want to bet on sports. There could be more Australian success this time around, and the following athletes all have outstanding chances of winning medals.
- Matt Graham (Freestyle Skiing)
- Jarryd Hughes (Snowboarding)
- Scotty James (Snowboarding)
- Laura Peel (Freestyle Skiing)
- Tess Coady (Snowboarding)