The Winter Olympic Games is a major international sporting event that takes place in a designated location every four years. The first Winter Olympic Games were held in the lovely town of Chamonix, France in 1924 where athletes from around the world competed in several cold-weather sports, including alpine and cross-country skiing, figure skating, ice hockey, Nordic combined, ski jumping and speed skating. Since that time, the Winter Olympic Games has grown in size, events and stature, with this year’s contest taking place in Sochi, Russia.
2014 Winter Olympic Games: New Events, Newcomers and Featured Locations
Over time, the number and type of competitions and events has changed. This year, a team event in Figure Skating makes its debut, as does Women’s Ski Jumping, Snowboard Parallel Slalom, among others. All in all, this year’s organizers have planned for 98 events across 15 winter sport disciplines.
12 cold-weather countries, including Austria, Canada, Finland, France, Great Britain, Hungary, Italy, Norway, Poland, Sweden, Switzerland and the United States, have sent athletes to every Winter Olympic Games held since the beginning. 6 of these (Austria, Canada, Finland, Norway, Sweden and the United States) traditionally dominate the world-class winter sporting events. In recent years, warm weather, island and tropical countries, like Jamaica, British Virgin Islands, Cameroon, and Cayman Islands, to name a few, have begun to sponsor athletes to compete in these high-flying Winter Olympic Games. Hot climate newcomers this year? Dominica, Zimbabwe, Timor-Leste, Togo Tonga, and Malta, though their delegations are quite small and in some cases include only one athlete who typically trains away from native shores.
Events will be centered in two areas: (1) Olympic Park, nestled in Sochi’s Imeretinsky Valley on the Black Sea where the open-air Fisht Olympic Stadium and various indoor venues are situated; and, (2) Krasnaya Polyana in the beautiful Western Caucasus, a 30-45 minute drive from Sochi proper, where spectators will get a chance to see high flying skiing and other snow events.
Strong Opinions on Winter Olympics Rightful Place in History of the Games
There was once a time when people rejected the idea of including winter sports in the Olympic Games. Hard to believe, isn’t it? But, it’s true. Olympic organizers argued that these cold-weather sports were simply not a part of Greek Olympic tradition. Others argued that these sports didn’t embody the Olympic ideal, that daredevil or extreme maneuvers on snow and ice hardly constituted “real” sports.
The 1901 Nordic Games, a first-of-its-kind international competition of Scandinavian athletes, changed all that and it soon became clear that winter sports had great potential and a rightful place in the modern Olympic Games. Of course, it took awhile for the politics among nations and Olympic organizers to dissipate. Chamonix, France hosted the first-ever Winter Games in 1924, followed St. Moritz, Switzerland four years later in 1928.
As a native of Philadelphia, I grew up knowing none of this. I never questioned the authenticity of the Winter Olympic Games or their rightful place in Olympics history and lore. Nobody did. Likewise, I never considered who was likely to compete and which countries would keep their athletes home. Like others, I just watched in awe as world-class athletes from around the world defied gravity in some cases and otherwise showcased what years of Olympic training could produce in this thrilling international cold weather sporting competition. To this day, I can’t wait for the Olympics to roll around again, and the Winter Games especially.
2014 Winter Olympic Games: News Outlets and Social Media
Ready to watch the Winter Olympic Games? I sure am! For the official schedule, there are several websites you can bookmark and check daily, like the official websites for the 2014 Sochi Winter Olympic Games , NBC, official broadcaster of the games (a site that provides the broadcast schedule and each day’s Medal Standings by country), and Team USA. Also, try a simple Google search, using the keywords “2014 Winter Olympics,” and you’ll get an excellent summary of the broadcast schedule, team standings and more. As for broadcasts and print media? All the major networks are covering the Olympics, as are CNN and BBC, but NBC offers the most extensive coverage of this year’s Winter Olympics in Sochi. In addition, print and broadcast media are well-represented in Sochi, but there’s no doubt that social media (including Facebook, Twitter and Instagram) will be game-changers in terms of how the viewing audience gets and shares information on this international sporting event.
Looking for a super cool navigation page for this year’s Winter Olympics action in Sochi, Russia? Check out Yahoo!’s Home Page, which includes a standing 2014 Winter Olympics feature with up-to-the-minute event information, individual and team standings, cool graphics, and more.
Winter Olympic Games Sporting Events in Sochi
What sports to watch over the next two weeks? Here’s a handy List of 2014 Winter Olympic Events you won’t want to miss:
Short Track Speed Skating
Origins of the Olympic Winter Games
Encyclopedia Britannica Online
Power, Politics, and the Olympic Games: A History of the Power Brokers, Events, and Controversies that Shaped the Games
Alfred Erich Senn. Champaign, Illinois (Human Kinetics, 1999)
Official Website for Team USA
Official Website for 2014 Winter Olympics
Official Site of the Olympic Movement