Winter Olympic Sports
Winter Olympic sports showcase a wide variety of events. Since the first official Olympic Winter Games in Chamonix, France in 1924, the featured sports have taken on many changes. Each event has its own history, from humble beginnings to modern global competition.
- Curling This Winter Olympic sport is played by two opposing teams on a rectangular area of ice. The teams use brushes to help push heavy polished stones into a target zone. Although it has made some appearances as a demonstration, this sport’s recent Olympic history began in 1998 when it was officially added as an event.
- Ice Hockey A staple of Winter Olympic sports since 1924, this event has a long history with the games. Canadians dominated the competition at the Olympic level in the event’s early days, but relinquished their grip when the Soviet Union came to prominence. The US team has had less success, with the exception of the 1960 and 1980 Games.
- Bobsleigh Originating in Switzerland in the late 1860s, this Winter Olympic event consists of two- or four-man teams navigating a specialized sled down a twisting, banked track. Bobsleigh premiered as a men’s Olympic event in 1924. The first women’s competition arrived in 2002.
- Luge Similar to bobsleigh in its timed track runs, the luge is an individual Winter Olympic sport. Competitors lie feet-forward on tiny sleds to make their runs without the aid of brakes or protection. Luge made its Olympic debut in 1964, with the East Germans dominating the early years of the event.
- Biathalon Rooted in the hunting practices of snow-covered Scandinavia, the biathalon features elements of shooting and cross-country skiing. It made its first appearance as an official Winter Olympic sport in 1960. Since then, a few variations have been added, including a women’s medal competition in 1992.
- Figure Skating The oldest of the Winter Olympic sports, figure skating dates all the way back to the 1908 Games. Its popularity has always been strong since the early days of the Winter Olympics. Hollywood star Sonja Henie skated in the first four Winter Games, giving the sport a huge boost in interest.
- Speed Skating First appearing in the Chamonix Games in 1924, men’s speed skating has long been a Winter Olympic sport. Differences in starting methods between Europe and America gave birth to modern short-track speed skating, which debuted as an official event in 1992.
- Snowboarding A relative newcomer to Winter Olympic sports, snowboarding didn’t make its program debut until the Nagano Games in 1998. The event proved to be an instant success and since then different disciplines have been added. In addition to the halfpipe and giant slalom competitions present in 1998, snowboard cross is now an official event.
- Ski Jumping With its roots in early 19th century Norway, ski jumping has long been a presence in winter sports culture. Since its Olympic beginnings in 1924, the event has endured innovative changes in form and technique that allow modern skiers to jump further than ever before.
- Alpine Skiing Men’s and women’s alpine skiing made their debut simultaneously at the 1936 Olympic Winter Games. The downhill and slalom events were combined at that time, remaining so until 1948. Since then, a giant slalom and a super giant slalom variation of the sport have officially been added as well.