100 days to go 100 random facts about the Olympic Winter Games – Part 1

To celebrate 100 days to go until the beginning of the Olympic Winter Games Beijing 2022, here are 100 facts about the Winter Olympics that will make you seem like the smartest person in the room. Part one of three includes the origins of the word 'ski', fastest back-to-back ice hockey goals and so much more. 

By Jo Gunston and Chloe Merrell
Picture by 2018 Getty Images

1. Innsbruck 1964 was threatened by a lack of snow until the Austrian Army delivered 50,000 cubic yards of the fluffy stuff.

2. The oldest person to receive a medal at the Olympic Winter Games is Anders Haugen. He competed in 1924 but didn’t get his bronze medal until 50 years later because of a scoring error.

3. Curling is named after the unique turning that occurs at the end of the stone’s path on the ice.

4. US Alpine skier Mikaela Shiffrin brought 35 pairs of skis with her to PyeongChang 2018.

5. The official mascot of the Olympic Winter Games Innsbruck 1976 was Schneemann (meaning snowman in German).

6. Yang Yang was the People's Republic of China’s first ever champion at the Olympic Winter Games winning the women’s 500m short track gold at Salt Lake City 2002.

7. Debra Thomas became the first black athlete to medal at the Winter Olympics after she won bronze in figure skating at the 1988 Games in Calgary.

8. The only country to have won a gold medal at every Olympic Winter Games is the United States.

9. US ice hockey player Jocelyne Lamoureux-Davidson scored the fastest two goals by one player at a Winter Olympics – just six seconds apart at PyeongChang 2018.

10. The name of the Beijing 2022 Olympic torch is ‘Flying’ (Fei Yang).

11. The founder of the Olympic Movement, Pierre de Coubertin, died in 1937 and was buried in Lausanne, save for his heart, which, on his instruction, was interred in a memorial near the ruins of ancient Olympia.

12. More than 24 million people tuned in to watch the famous Bolero figure skating routine by British pairs skaters, Jayne Torvill and Christopher Dean in 1984.

13. Finland’s Kalle Jalkanen won the 1936 cross-country skiing relay despite picking up his dentures he’d accidentally spat on the snow.

14. The skeleton track at Beijing 2022 has the first ever 180 degree corner of any Olympic Winter Games.

15. Until 1992, the Olympic Summer Games and the Olympic Winter Games were held in the same year.

16. To date, 12 countries have participated in every Olympic Winter Games – Austria, Canada, Finland, France, Great Britain, Hungary, Italy, Norway, Poland, Sweden, Switzerland and the United States.

17. The Olympic Winter Games have never been hosted in the southern hemisphere.

18. Five venues for Beijing 2022 will be reused from the Beijing 2008 Olympic Summer Games.

19. The Shougang ski ramp – the permanent Big Air venue for the Beijing 2022 Games – is 60m tall and 164m long.

20. The youngest female snowboarding gold medallist is America's Chloe Kim, at 17 in PyeonChang in 2018.

21. Olympic hockey pucks are made of vulcanised rubber and must be frozen to reduce friction before each game.

22. Ester Ledecka became the first person to win two gold medals at the same Olympic Winter Games in two sports – Alpine skiing and snowboarding.

23. The emblem for Beijing 2022 is inspired by the Chinese character for “winter”.

24. Ecuador, Eritrea, Kosovo, Malaysia, Nigeria and Singapore all made their debuts at PyeongChang 2018.

25. The world’s first bobsleigh club was founded in St. Moritz, Switzerland in 1897.

26. The word “ski” is a Norwegian word that comes from the Old Norse word “skid”, a split length of wood.

27. The rock, or stone, used in curling is made of a rare, dense granite that is quarried on Scotland’s Ailsa Craig.

28. Three-time Olympic medal winner, Heikki Hasu, retired from Nordic skiing in 1953 at just 27 to work on his farm.

29. The word “hockey” comes from the old French word “hocquet” meaning stick.

30. After winning silver and gold at two Olympic Winter Games – in Oslo 1952 and Cortina d’Ampezzo 1956 – Finland's Mirja Hietamies worked as bus driver.

31. Famed British ski jumper Michael ‘Eddie the Eagle’ Edwards carried the Olympic torch in the relay for the 2010 Vancouver Olympics.

32. A total of 258 athletes from 16 countries competed at the first Olympic Winter Games in Chamonix in 1924. In PyeongChang 2018, there were 2,925 athletes from 92 nations.

33. Pita Taufatofua - the so-called ‘Topless Tongan’ became the Pacific island’s second-ever Olympic Winter Games athlete when he competed as a cross-country skier at the 2018 PyeongChang Games. He also competed at Rio 2016 and Tokyo 2020.

Pita Taufatofua 

Look out for the Part 2 of the 100 random facts three-part series, which celebrates 100 days to go to Beijing 2022, online from 27 October and Part 3, from 28 October.

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