Fun Facts About the XXIV Olympic Winter Games

The Beijing Winter Olympics will take place February 4-20, 2022

By Kyrie Collins, Macaroni KID Highlands Ranch-Parker-Castle Rock-Lone Tree Publisher January 31, 2022

Citius, Altius, Fortius
"Swifter, Higher, Stronger"

The first recorded Olympic Games took place in Ancient Greece in 776 BC. The only event was a "stade," a foot race about 600 feet in length. This is where the word "stadium" originates. The athletes participated naked, or "gymnos." This is where the word "gymnasium" originates.

The first Winter Olympic Games took place in France in 1924. The sports were alpine skiing, cross-country skiing, ski jumping, Nordic combined, figure skating, speed skating, and ice hockey. The Winter and Summer Olympic Games used to take place in the same year until 1994. Because of the change, the Winter Games took place in 1992 and then again just two years later.

How are we already having another Olympics when the Summer Games took place less than six months ago? Although we usually have to wait a year and a half after the Summer Olympics for a chance to root for Team USA again, the Tokyo Games were delayed by a year due to COVID.

If you are as excited about the 2022 Beijing Winter Games as I am, here are some interesting tidbits you might enjoy...

The Torch

According to Greek mythology, Prometheus stole the gift of fire from the god Zeus, and a fire was kept burning throughout the ancient Olympics. The torch first appeared in the modern-day Olympic Games at the 1928 Summer Olympics and has been a symbol of the Games ever since. Each torch is unique in its representation of the games.

The Rings

Pierre de Coubertin created the Olympic Rings symbol in 1913 using five rings to represent the five continents participating in the Olympics. The colors — red, blue, yellow, black, and green — combined with the white background represented the flags of all the nations participating at that time. The rings are interlocking to symbolize the friendship to be gained.

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China is hosting the Winter Games for the first time.

Having hosted in Summer 2008, Beijing will become the first city to hold both the Summer and Winter Olympics. 

Four of the indoor venues constructed for the 2008 Summer Games will be used for the 2022 Winter Games too.

This will be the first time the Winter Games have used virtually 100% artificial snow using 100 snow generators, 300 snow-making guns, and 49 million gallons of chemically treated water. 

Participating Countries

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

Six of these countries — Austria, Canada, Finland, Norway, Sweden, and the United States — have won medals at every Winter Olympic Games, but the United States is the only country to have won a gold medal every time. 

From Albania to the Virgin Islands, 91 countries will be represented in Beijing. The United States is sending the most athletes (222), closely followed by Canada (215) and the Russian Olympic Committee (212). See the complete list of countries and their flags here.

Haiti and Saudi Arabia will be making their first Winter Games appearance.

The Events

To be considered for inclusion in the Olympics, an event must be "widely practiced" by men in at least 75 countries on four continents and by women in at least 40 countries on three continents.

There are 109 events over 15 disciplines: Alpine Skiing, Biathlon, Bobsleigh, Cross-Country Skiing, Curling, Figure Skating, Freestyle Skiing, Ice Hockey, Luge, Nordin Combined, Short Track Speed Skating, Skeleton, Ski Jumping, Snowboard, and Speed Skating.

New events in 2022 are Men's and Women's Freeski Big Air, Women's Monobob, Mixed Team Snowboard Cross, Mixed Team Aerials, Mixed Team Short Track Relay, and Mixed Team Ski Jumping.

READ: Who Will Take the Gold? The U.S. Athletes You'll Want to Watch

Team USA Superlatives

The 2022 Team USA roster features 222 athletes — 114 mean and 108 women — from 31 states, including 39 previous Olympic medal winners. The Olympic Games roster includes a "summer" (luger Summer Britcher) and a "winter" (aerials skier Winter Vinecki).

Snowboarder Nick Baumgartner turned 40 in December and is the oldest member of Team USA.

At 16, figure skater Alysa Liu is the youngest.

Figure skater Timothy LeDuc is the first openly nonbinary athlete to compete at an Olympic Winter Games.

Four athletes will be making their fifth Olympic appearance: curler John Shuster, snowboarders Lindsey Jacobellis and Shaun White, and skeleton slider Katie Uhlaender.

For the first time since 1968, every individual U.S. gold medalist from the previous Olympics (2018 Pyeongchang) is returning to this year's Winter Games. You will get another chance to cheer on Alpine skier Mikaela Shiffrin, halfpipe skier David Wise, and snowboarders Red Gerard, Chloe Kim, and Shaun White.

Team USA holds the title for "Biggest Upset," defeating the seemingly unbeatable Soviet Union Hockey Team during the 1980 Winter Olympics at Lake Placid, NY. The upset was called the "Miracle on Ice" and Sports Illustrated named it the "Top Sports Moment of the 20th Century." The 2004 film Miracle (rated PG) starring Kurt Russell is based on this exciting moment!

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