Winter Olympics


History of the Winter Olympics

The Summer Olympic games began in Athens, Greece in 1896. The Winter Olympic games can not trace back to the ancient games. The greeks were not into winter sports.

The olympic motto, faster, higher, stronger, suits the cold games better than the summer contests. There is a certain degree of danger, because it of the winter climate. The games of winter are largely games of speed. The athlete's greatest competition is the clock and the laws of nature. The snow sports are gravity sports. Time is law. It is measured to the hundreth and even to the thousandth of a second. The wrong movement or tensing of the muscles can change a record-threatening time to middle of the pack. Where there is speed, there is technology. Aerodynamics is the Winter Olympics.

There had been winter games before 1924. The Scandinavian countries of Sweden, FInland, and Norway along with the Soviets had hoarded medals for those games, and they objected to called these games Olympics. They were use to winning and did not to compete other countries for the medals.

Skating first figured into the winter games' roster with men's and women's and pairs events at the London Games in 1908. Hockey's first was in Antewerp in 1920 when the Canadian tema captured the first of the six gold medals. Although, the first official Winter Games were held in Chamonix , France in 1924 theyh weren't considered official Olympics at the time. The games were orginally called the International Sports Week, later known as the Winter Games. The Chamonix games grandfathered into Olympic Status in 1926, 2 years after they took place. Sixteen countries participated namely, Austria, Belgim, Canada, Czechoslovakia, Finland, France, Great Britian, Hungary, Italy, Latvia, Norway, Poland, Sweden, Switzerland, the U.S. and Yugoslavia. In the 1924 games four other sports were added to figure skating and ice hockey: bobseld, norid skiing, ski jumping, and speed skating. Alpine skiing was added in 1936. The contests were limited to only men's contests, but slowly women's competition in each event was included. Luge events didn't appear in the games until 1964. Women competed in singles only, where the men competed in singles and doubles.

New contests are continually being demonstrated at the Winter Games. The International Olympics Committee ultimately decides which will be an official event in future games.

Winter Olympics hosts

1924 Chamonoix, France

1928 St. Moritz, Switzerland

1932 Lake Placid, New York, United States

1936 Garmisch- Partenkirchen, Germany

1940 & 1944 All games canceled due to the Second World War

1948 St. Moritz, Switzerland

1952 Oslo, Norway

1956 Cortina d'Ampezzo, Italy

1960 Squaw Valley, California, United States

1964 Innsbruck, Austria

1968 Grenolbe, France

1972 Sapporo, Japan

1976 Inssbruck, Austia

1980 Lake Placid, New York, United States

1984 Sarajevo, Yugoslavia

1988 Calgary, Canada

1992 Albertville, France

1994 Lillehammer, Germany

1998 Nagano, Japan

2002 Salt Lake City, Utah, United States

2006 Turin, Italy

2010 Vancouver, Canada

2014 Sochi, Russia



Biathlon in Greek means two tests. This is a combination of cross-country skiing and rifle shooting. The original competitions recorded were between soldiers gaurding the Swedish- Norwegian border. In France, the biathlon was demonstrated at the first Olympic Winter Games in 1924. Usually the contestants were soldiers. The event was dropeped after the 1948 Olympics due to the anti-military feelings surrounding the Games. It was re-introduced to the Olympic Winter Gmaes as an official sport in 1960.

The biathlon requires a combination of incredible stamina, cross county skiing and precision rifle shooting. The skiing segment is physically demanding. The shooting segment calls for keen concentration and a steady hand. The athletes ski cross-country along a winding course with a rifle across their backs. At certain points along the track they must stop and fire at a fixed target. The competitors slow down as they approach the range area. This is an attempt to control their breathing and slow down their racing heartbeats.

The competitor takes 25 seconds to a minute at each firing range. At each stop the rifle is removed from the shouler; the snow cover that protects the sight is taken off; the magazine which holds the cartridge is inserted into the rifle; the rifle is aimed and fired; the sight cover is flipped back on; the rifle is slung back over the shoulder and then the skier continues on the course. All within 25 seconds to one minute. Penalties of one minute are added to the skiing time for each target missed.


Bobsledding is a winter sport that involves downhill racing on a large four-runner sled over a specially constructed course covered with ice or snow. The sleds carry two to four persons. The sport began in the 19th century. Its name came from the maneuver of the crew called bobbing. This is the effort of the men to increase the speed of the sled by slowly leaning back to an almost horizontal position and then, on signal from the captain, who is the man in the front suddenly returning to an upright position.

The sport originated in Saint-Moritz, Switzerland by toboganners who sought to increase the speed and thrills of tobogganing by adding runners to their sleds and altering the course, or run as it is commonly known as.

This sport became a popular event at the first Olympic Winter Games in 1924 Chamonix, France and since that time has been part of the Winter Games in each Olympiad with the exception of those in 1960.

This is a very dangerous sport and participation is limited and restricted becuase of the expensive equipment and in the United States because of the lack of good runs. The only approved run in the United States is located near Lake Placid, N.Y. In Europe there are over 25 runs.

In approved competition the bobsled consists of a plain riding surface, now made of metal that rests on two sets of runners. The front runner is pivoted and is used for steering. The sleds average weight is 500 pounds. Recently a type of hood called a cowling has been added to the front to reduce wind resistance and increase speed. The finest sleds are made in Italy and cost more than $2,000. Speeds up to 100 mph are possible. Steering is accomplished by ropes attached to the front runners or by a steering wheel connected by cables to the front runners.

The four-man competition consists of a team captain, or skipper. He sits in the front and steers. The rear man or brakeman is responsible for checking skids and stopping the sled. The two middle men supply ballast and help "bob". A smaller sled is used in two-man competition and the two riders perform the duties of the front and rear members of the four-man teams.

In olympic races only one sled is permitted on the course at a given time. Each sled makes four trips down the course, and the fastest total time determines the winner.


Curling is a very old sport, but the game will be played for the first time in the 1998 Winter Olympics. The game dates back to about five thousand years ago. According to written records the game was played in Scotland around 1638. It was something the people of Scotland were able to do during the dreary days of winter when the lochs were frozen over. The game has been refined over the years. One of the countries that has really developed curling is Canada. At this time curling is in competition with ice hockey as Canada's national game. It is the Canadians who usually win in the annual world championships.

The players wear special ice shoes with a teflon-coated "slider" on one foot and a crepe sole on the other foot. The stones look lke a tea kettle without the spout with a handle on one end. These stones are made of highly polished granite rocks which are 21 inches in diameter and weigh 42 pounds each. There are two different long-handled brooms or brushes: a corn-bloom broom and a bristle broom.

The name of the curling comes from the action which causes a polished stone to turn as it is released and curls to the right or left as it slides along the ice. Different shots are called and attempted. The players ability to make shots and then teamwork involving curling and sweeping are the important parts of the sport.

The game consists of two teams of four players each. One player curls the stone while two others run ahead and sweep the ice surface with brooms to speed up or redirect the shot. The "ends" or periods consisting of two curls per player make up a game. The rink is approximetely 126 feet long and 14 feet wide. There are two 12 foot targets called houses at each end. The bulls-eye is in the middle of the house and is 4 feet in diamter.

The game is like shuffleboard. The players compete by alternating turns curling the heave stones across the ice rink attempting to stop the stones closest to the target. Points are scored by the team with the stones closest to the house. The strategy involves knocking the opponents' stones off the target or blocking the opponent from getting at one's own rock which is in a good position.

Figure Skating

The first skates called schaats were made from ribs or shinbones of animals which were tied to the person's feet. Later iron or steel blades were used. When curved steel skates were developed in the mid 19th century, the art of figure skating was born. Orginally, competitions consisted of rating the participants on their ability to follow prescribed outlines, or school figures. These patterns of two or three lobed figure eights were then precisely traced over and over again.

Olympic competition is divided into three categories. These are singles, pairs and ice dancing. In singles and pairs, competition is made up of two separate segments. The original program or short program is scored first. This is followed by the free skating program or long program.

In singles skating, the Original Program is made up of compulsary moves or elements including jumps and spins. These moves may be done in any sequence within the time limit. The music is chosen by the skater. The Free Skating Program has no required elements. The length of a program is four and one-half minutes for men, and four minutes for women. In this program skaters select their own music and choreograph the many difficult jumps, spins, footwork and interpretive mvoes to display their technical and artistic skill.

Pairs Skating is the same as singles but is performed in unison by partners. Dangerous overhead lifts, throws, jumps and spins are usually an important part of the performance. Shadow skating, in which partners perform identical maneuvers a distance apart and mirror skating where the pair's moves are in opposite directions are aspects of pairs skating.

Ice Dancing is skated in paris only without the overhead lifts and jumps. Rhythm and musical interpretations are emphasized. Compulsory competition requires each team to perform the same two selected dances that must be done in an exact manner and placement on the ice. In the Original Program, the skaters are given a prescribed rhythm and must create their own routine using that rhythm. In Free Dancing the skaters are allowed four minutes to demonstrate their skill using any syle, music and, rhythm.

Ice Hocky

If you ever have seen an ice hockey game you will know it is an extremely rouch, action-packed game. It is considered one of the fastest of all sports. The original game, "bandy" was a sport that developed in England in the 18th century. Modern ice hocky was devised and developed in the mid 1800s by British soldeirs stationed in Canada. The rules were written by students at McGill University in Montreal, Quebec in 1879. It is the national sport of Canada.

The object of the game is to score points by knocking the puck into the opponenet's goal. The team that scores the most goals wins the game.

The game is divided into 3 20-minute periods. Six players are on the ice at a time, including a goalie. Each player wears protective pads under their clothing and thick gloves on their hands. Play begins with the face-off, when the referee drops the puck between the opposing centers. Teams attempt to score by passing and shooting the puck across the ice with their sticks. A player who scores three goals in one game is said to have scored a "hat trick."

Penalties are assessed for holding, tripping, slashing with the stick, and unnecessary roughness. The player committing the offense, is sent to a penalty box for two minutes for a minor infraction and five minutes for a major one. A team with a one or two player advantage is said to have the power play.

In the Olympics Games teams from the competing countries are divided into two pools. These teams play a round-robin in the preliminaries. The winning team of each game recieves two points. The losing team receives no points and if there is a tie or draw, each team receives 1 point. After the preliminary round, the top three teams in the standings in each pool advance to the medal round which is played in the same way. The country finishing with the best team record wins.


The Luge has been a very popular sport in Europe since the late 19th century. Competitors slide down a twisting, ice-covered course while lying on their backs with their feet at the front of a sledlike vehicle with runners. This is called a luge. The race is against the clock, and the lowest combined time determines the winner. This has been a competitive event since the Winter Olympics of 1964. Medals are given in men's and women's singles and men's pairs.

The course the luge goes on is specially designed for the sport. There are standard turns and curves as well as straight stretches. The sled must conform to very specific rules regarding weight and size. Increased speed is obtained when as little air resistance is created as possible by lying down, the head is held back, and feet are kept pointed. A skin-tight rubbersized speedsuit is worn by the driver.

Relaxation is critical, but is a very difficult discipline to master. If the driver is tense the seld stiffens, cutting into the ice, instead of gliding over it. When the rider is relaxed the slider absorbs vibration, keeping hte blades on the ice and control and speed is improved. Precise movements of the upper and lower body controls direction.

Rather than the legs steering the luge, the drivers use their shoulders to steer as much as possible. If they really want to go fast, no steering is done at all. Leg steering is created by pressing down and in on the end of the runner. Steering with the left leg causes the sled to veer right. Shoulder steering is done by pressing down with a shoulder. Head steering is done by rolling the head, slight pressure can be applied to one side of the sled causing the same results as with shoulder steering. Handle steering is done by pulling on a handle. Olympic competitors use it only for an emergency.


The word ski comes from Norway. This was a slab of ash, 12 feet long which was attached to the feet by a loose leather harness and a single heavy pole was held between the skis for steering and balance.

Today skiis are scientifically designed, made of laminated hickory or flexible metal, with sharp steel edges, which allow the skier to cut into or hold onto the snow. Special plastic bases reduce friction, making turning easier, and increase downhill speed. The bindings attaching the boot to the ski serves a dual purpose. It holds the foot firmly to the ski but releases the ski from the boot in a severe fall. This reduces many injuries. The heavy pole, originally used, has been replaced by a pair of aluminum poles with specially designed handle grips. The length of the skis depends upon the skier's height. Downhill skis are shorter and wider than the ones used for cross country.

There are three major categories in Olympic Skiing. These are Alpine, Nordic and Freestyle. In the Alpine events ther are five downhill races. The starting order is critical because the course deteriorates and becomes rutted. Men and women compete separately. In the downhill the object of the contest is to descend the slope in the fastest possible time. To do this requires balance and coordination as speeds of 80 miles per hours are reached. The skier must follow a series of gates, which are made up of poles with marker flags and placed in pairs. The racer must pass through these gates. Each competitor makes one run against the clock. Differences among the top performers are often within hundreths of a second.

Another type of Alipne racing is the Slalom, which is also performed on a downhill course, but if involves zigzagging down and across the surface of the slope. Each competitor is required to weave in and out of a series of gates marked with blue and red flags on double poles. This race is held on two separate runs on different courses, and the fastest combined time for the two runs, determines the winner. There are also the Giant Slalom and the Super Giant Slalom.

Another category of events is Nordic Skiing. In the Cross-Country there is a great emphasis on strength and endurance. The course is set up with colored markers. The skiers follow the same route. Striding and gliding is the procedure used. The ski pole in one hand is planted down as the opposite leg begins its kickoff.

Another Nordic is Ski Jumping. Jumpers race down a prepared vertical surface to a takeoff point. A powerful takeoff, motionless control during the flight, and a precise landing is the ultimate goal. The distance of the jump is measured from the lip of the takeoff to the place where the jumper lands on the snow. The skier's balance and coordination is very important.

Jumps are scored by five judges. Points are given both for the distance of the jump and for the style of the jump. Up to 60 points are awarded for style, with an additional 60 points awarded to jumpers reaching the K point of the hill. This is the end of the steepest part of the landing slope. The highest and lowest scores are dropped and the points awarded by the remaining three judges are added together. Each contestant takes two jumps. Deductions are made for ineffective takeoffs, improper positioning of body weight during flights, skis being held at an improper angle, lack of stability or symmetry in flight and for bent kneeds, hips or back during flight.

The Nordic Combined event combines ski jumping with cross-country ski racing. This is a two day event.

Freestyle Skiing is made up of three separate competitions. Ballet is much like figure skating. This consists of a program of jumps, spins, and gliding steps performed to music. The performance is limited to 2 minutes, 15 seconds. Judging includes technical difficulty and the skier's overall performance and choreography. The event consists of carefully calculated high-speed turns on a heavily snow bumped slope. The skier is judged on speed and the quality and technique of turns and upright aerials. In Aerial competition, the trained skier completes an acrobatic leap from a specially prepared ski jump. Takeoff, form and execution of the maneuver in the air and landing is judged. There are two types of competition aerials: Upright, which is an acrobatic leap where the athlete's head does not move below the feet, and Inverted, in which the skier actually flips and twists. Jumps are scored on takeoff, form, maneuver and landing, with scores added depending on the degree of difficulty.

Speed Skating

Speed skating competitions were held at the first Olympic Winter Games at Chamonix, France in 1924.

The competitions in speed skating are divided up into two sections short track and long track. Separate events are held for each. Contestants draw for starting positions for the races.

Short Track

Four to six competitors line up for the contest. They skate on a short 364 foot (111 meter) oval track for varying distances and compete in several elimination heats. The first one across the finish line is the winner and the top two other finishers progress to the next run.

Short track speed skating is much faster paced. The lead skater has the right of way, and the person who may pass the lead has the responsibility to pass the lead skater without bumping into that skater. Many falls and body contact are caused by the tight corners on the small track where the skaters tend to pile up. The boards surrounding the track have crash pads. If a skate bumps another skate they are disqualified.

Long Track

In long track speed skating competitors race in pairs around a 400 meter track. Even though the skaters seem to be competing with one another, they are actually racing against the clock and against a time established by a previous skater in another heat.

When training for this type of contest, the skaters keep themselves in a low crouched position to reduce air resistance. This and consistent timed laps leaps to outstanding performance and winning.

Science of Snow