All you need to know about the Winter Olympics

What are the Winter Olympics? When were the first Winter Olympics held? Here’s your guide to the ultimate winter sports competition.

By Aarish Ansari
Picture by 2014 Getty Images

The Beijing 2022 Winter Olympics is just around the corner and the buzz among athletes and fans is only growing louder.

Considered the pinnacle of winter sports, every edition of the Winter Olympics brings together the best athletes from around the world in one place for a fascinating contest on ice and snow.

As we wait for the sporting spectacle to begin in Beijing, here’s everything you need to know about the Winter Games.

What is the Winter Olympics?

Winter Olympics is the premier competition for sports that are played on ice or snow. It is held every four years and features participants from across the world.

Ice skating, ice hockey, skiing and figure skating are some of the popular sports that are played at the Winter Games.

When were the first Winter Olympics held?

The first Winter Olympics were held in 1924 in Chamonix, France.

Winter sports were initially played at the Summer Olympics, with the 1908 London Olympics hosting four figure skating events and Antwerp 1920 having figure skating as well as ice hockey.

However, in 1924, a separate event was created for winter sports, called the International Winter Sports Week. It was held in Chamonix, France – the host country for the 1924 Summer Olympics.

Two years later, the International Winter Sports Week in Chamonix was officially recognised as the first Winter Olympic Games.

Where will the Winter Olympic Games 2022 be organised? 

The 2022 edition of the Winter Olympic Games will be held in Beijing, China from February 4 to February 20.

Having staged the 2008 Summer Olympics, Beijing will become the first city to host both the Summer and Winter Olympics.

Beijing 2022 will be held across three zones – Beijing, Yanqing and Zhangjiakou.

Ice sports like speed skating and ice hockey will be staged in Beijing while alpine skiing, bobsled, luge and skeleton will be hosted in Yanqing. Popular skiing destination Zhangjiakou will host the major ski and snowboarding events.

Does India participate in the Winter Olympics?

India have been participating at the Winter Olympics since 1964.

Jeremy Bujakowski was the first Indian to qualify for the Winter Olympics when he competed at the 1964 Games in Austria in the men’s downhill alpine skiing event.

A total of 15 Indians athletes have taken part in the Winter Olympics. Shiva Keshavan is the most successful of all. He has participated in six consecutive editions, starting with the 1998 Games in Nagano, Japan.

For Beijing 2022, alpine skier Mohammad Arif Khan has won quotas in two events – slalom and giant slalom. He is the only Indian to have secured a place at the upcoming Games till now.

How many sports are there in the Winter Olympics?

The Olympic programme has undergone many changes since the inaugural Winter Games in 1924.

While the first edition in Chamonix had five sports, the Beijing 2022 Winter Olympics will feature a total of seven sports, 15 disciplines and 109 medal events.

Biathlon, bobsleigh, curling, ice hockey, luge, skating and skiing are the seven broad sporting categories which will be played at Beijing 2022.

The seven sports are divided into 15 disciplines - alpine skiing, biathlon, bobsleigh, cross-country skiing, curling, figure skating, freestyle skiing, ice hockey, luge, Nordic combined, skeleton, ski jumping, snowboard and speed skating.

The disciplines, in turn, can be further subdivided into a total of 109 events - 51 for men, 46 for women, 11 mixed events and one open event.

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