The History of the Winter Olympics and Other World Events

The Winter Olympic Games are for all sports on snow and ice and are held every four years. Today they are organized to run in the intervening years between the Summer Olympic Games. The 2018 Winter Olympics have just taken place in South Korea and the next Summer Olympics are scheduled to take place in 2020 in Tokyo.

Alberto Tomba winning Olympic Gold in Calgary 1988

They used to occur in the same year together but following Albertville (France) 1992, the next event was Lillehammer (Norway) 1994. The first event to be held was in 1924 in Chamonix in France with the events taking place at the foot of Mont Blanc. Sixteen nations attended with Germany being banned. The events that took place were ice Hockey, bob sleigh, curling, figure skating, Speed skating, Nordic combined, military patrol, cross country skiing and ski jumping.

The Nordic countries were the most successful with Norway and Finland being the most successful nations’ winning four gold medals each. As time has progressed the size of the Games have increased with 93 nations attending the 2018 games. They competed for over 100 medals in 15 different events with Norway winning 14 gold medals, which was the same total as Germany.

Twelve different countries have hosted the Games which is quite a number considering that geographical conditions means that there are a limited number of countries that can physically cope with providing a suitable venue for the event. No country in the Southern Hemisphere has held the event as their winter seasons do not coincide with the Northern Hemisphere’s winter seasons. The global television coverage of the Games has had a massive impact on tourism into the ski resorts around the world. The alpine events were not introduced into the Games until 1936, when in Germany the downhill and the slalom were introduced as a combined event.

Today the highlight of any Games are the final runs of the downhill event and the giant slalom event as separate contests. The television pictures of seeing the mountain sides packed with travelling spectators creates a vision and sound that no other sport can match. The organizers live in hope that on these days the events are blessed with good weather conditions.

Current World Champion Marcel Hirscher

The weather conditions were far too good in Innsbruck in Austria for the 1964 Games. This resulted in the Austrian army having to scour the mountains for snow and ice and transporting it into the resort. This did not stop the Russian speed skater Lidia Skoblikova winning 6 gold medals which has never been surpassed.

The excitement of the Winter Olympics is replicated with both the FIS Skiing World Cup and the FIS Skiing World Championships. The World Cup takes place annually at a number of different venues around the world, while the World Ski Championships are held bi-annually at one location.

The World Ski Championships have 5 main events for both men and women. They include the slalom the giant slalom, the downhill, the super giant slalom and the combined event of slalom and downhill. These championships have taking place in 12 different countries around the world at a variety of venues.

The World cup events take place every year. They are televised around the world and many of the venues have become internationally known as they are regularly scheduled to hold the events. For the skiers the World cup is the pinnacle as points are collected throughout the season at each venue and the skier with the most points wins the title.

There are 36 races in the calendar with some venues such as Kitzbuhel In Austria, Val d’Isere in France and Gamish in Germany having great reputations for the races they regularly produce. This has created a great source of income for theses alpine communities.

The current world champion is the Austrian Marcel Hirscher who has won the title for seven consecutive years. He has also won nine medals at the Skiing World Championships and two gold medals and a silver at the Olympic Games. He is considered to be one of the greatest alpine skiers of all time.