The 2014 Winter Olympics, a.k.a. the XXII Winter Olympic Games, get underway with tonight’s Opening Ceremonies from Sochi, Russia.

Sochi is an unusual choice for a Winter Olympics with a climate similar to Atlanta, GA. Temperatures in Sochi in January and February, their coldest months, vary between 50 °F during the day, and above 37 °F at night. Hardly snow country. I guess we’ll see how that works out but I would keep a sharp eye out for snow making machines working overtime.

Fun Facts About The Winter Olympics

  • The first Winter Olympics was held in Chamonix, FRA in 1924 with Norway winning the most medals (17) and the United States coming in second with four medals.
  • Norway is the overall medal winner of all winter Olympics with 263 while the US is the big overall winner in the summer games with 2,189.
  • Athletes in the 2014 games can compete in alpine skiing, biathlon (cross-country skiing and target shooting), bobsled, cross-country skiing, curling, figure skating, freestyle skiing, ice hockey, luge, Nordic combined (ski jumping and cross-country skiing), skeleton (shown above), ski jumping, snowboarding, and speed skating.
  • The Winter and Summer games began alternating every two years in 1994.
  • No Winter Games have ever been hosted by a county south of the equator and three continents, Africa, South America, and Antarctica, have never been home to any Olympic games — summer or winter.
  • Four athletes have been fortunate enough to win medals in both the Winter and Summer Olympic Games: Eddie Eagan, boxing and bobsledding (United States), Jacob Tullin Thams, skiing and sailing, (Norway), Christa Luding-Rothenburger, speed skating and cycling, (East Germany), and Clara Hughes, skating and cycling (Canada).
  • Cross Country skier Bjorn Dahlie of Norway, with 12 Winter Games medals, is the leading medal winner.
  • US hockey teams made history in both 1960 and 1980 beating the odds against them and bringing home the gold.
  • Norwegian skater Sonja Henie won her first gold medal in the 1928 Olympics at the ripe old age of fifteen years ten months making her the youngest Winter Games medal winner. That age record was broken 70 years later when American figure skater Tara Lipinski, two months younger than Henie, won gold at the 1998 Nagano Games.

Some Final Thoughts

Being an athlete in my younger years I love the Olympics. The sacrifice these athletes must make rising to this level of competition is almost beyond belief. The hours and hours of training and dedication combined with the stress of being on the world’s largest stage often goes unappreciated by the average TV viewer.

What events will you be watching during this years Winter Olympics?