The Winter Olympics were first held in Chamonix, France, in 1924. The first Winter Olympics had five sports: bobsleigh, curling, ice hockey, Nordic skiing, and skating. Over the years, more sports were added, and now there are a total of 15.
- Alpine skiing: going down the side of a mountain using skiis.
- Biathlon: combines cross-country skiing and rifle shooting.
- Bobsleigh: riding a sleigh or sled down a special track (2 or 4 team members).
- Cross-country skiing: travelling long distances over flat areas using skiis.
- Curling: a large, flat stone is pushed toward a target area.
- Figure-skating: dancing and gymnastics while wearing ice-skates.
- Freestyle skiing: involves ski jumps, moguls, and downhill skiing.
- Ice hockey: teams try to get their rubber puck into the other team’s goal.
- Luge: riding a small (one- or two-person) sled, face up, down a special track.
- Nordic combined: a combination of cross-country skiing and ski-jumping.
- Short track speed skating: racing around a track using ice-skates.
- Skeleton: riding a small sled, face down, along a special track.
- Ski-jumping: competitors score points for jumping long distances with style.
- Snowboarding: riding a flat board down a hill or half-pipe.
- Speed skating: racing over longer distances using ice-skates.
Norway has so far been the most successful country in the Winter Olympics, having won a total of 329 medals since the Games began. However, some countries have done particularly well at certain sports: Canada generally dominates ice hockey, for example, while Germany often wins the luge events.
This year’s Winter Olympics are being held in the South Korean city of Pyeongchang, approximately 180km southeast of Seoul. Pyeongchang is in Gangwon Province, in the Taebaek Mountains region. In winter, cold winds coming from Siberia cause temperatures to drop below -12ºC on average (the record lowest temperature for the area is almost -30ºC). Winters here are long and snowy, making Pyeongchang a great place to hold the Winter Olympic Games.
What is your favourite winter sport? Why?
Do you do any of the sports listed above? Tell us about it.
Each comment will earn 1 point for your team during our English Olympics on Friday, the 9th of February. You must comment with the name of your country.