The Winter Olympics are almost here, which means we'll be spending our days watching the best of the best compete in figure skating, skiing, bobsledding, and more. We've got all the information you need to know about the Winter Olympics—including all the events you can expect to see this month—as well as 22 fascinating facts about the history of the games.
Before you don your Team USA gear and host an Olympics watch party, brush up on these fun facts and impress your guests with your knowledge of the games. Or, turn these questions into a trivia competition and compete for gold! Learn why you won't see hot air ballooning as an event this year (it used to be a real Olympic sport!) and find out what happens when the country hosting the Winter Olympics doesn't get any snow.
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Here's everything you need to know about the winter games.
When Are the Winter Olympics?
The Winter Olympics begin on Friday, February 4, 2022, and run through Sunday, February 20, 2022. The Opening Ceremonies will begin at 7:30 p.m. on February 4 in Beijing, which is 6:30 a.m. EST in the United States. If you want to watch it live, tune into NBC, Peacock, USA Network, or the Olympic Channel at 6:30 a.m. If you miss the early morning show, NBC will air a re-run at 8 p.m. EST the same day.
How to Watch the Winter Olympics
You can watch live coverage of the 2022 Winter Olympics on NBC or USA Network. If you're a Peacock subscriber (NBC's streaming app) you can watch live coverage there, as well as on the NBC Sports app.
What Are the Winter Olympics Events?
This year, the winter events are:
Short Track Speed Skating
Gold Medal-Worthy Facts About the Olympics
Go for gold in the trivia category and brush up on your fun facts before the games begin.
Beijing Is the First City to Host Both Summer and Winter Olympics
Beijing hosted the Summer Olympics in 2008 and is the host of the Winter Olympics in 2022—making it the first city to host both events.
Gold Medals Are Made From Silver
Gold medals haven't been made from solid gold since the 1912 Olympics. Instead, they're mainly made from silver to save costs.
The First Olympic Games Lasted Six Months
The very first Olympic Games took place in 776 B.C. in Olympia, Greece. They lasted for six months and included boxing, chariot racing, long jump, javelin, and wrestling.
Hot Air Ballooning Used to Be an Olympic Event
The events of the summer and winter games change periodically, as different sports are voted in or out. Golf and rugby are both events that were voted out and then voted back in, while hot air ballooning, motorboat sailing, dueling pistols, tug of war, and deer shooting were all voted out (and stayed out).
The Austrian Army Delivered the Snow For the 1964 Winter Olympics
The winter games in Innsbruck, Austria were almost canceled in 1964 because there was no snow that year. Luckily, the Austrian Army saved the day by delivering 25,000 tons of snow for the ski events.
The United States Has the Most Gold Medals
Going into the 2022 Winter Olympics, the United States has 2,980 total gold medals. In second place is the United Kingdom with 948, followed by Germany with 892.
Only Two People Have Won Gold Medals at Both the Summer and Winter Olympics
Competing in both the summer and winter Olympics is already impressive, but two people have won gold medals in both games. American athlete Eddie Eagan won a gold medal for boxing in 1920 and won gold again in 1932 for team bobsledding. Swedish competitor Gillis Grafstrom won a gold medal in figure skating in the 1920 summer games and won figure skating gold again in both the 1924 and 1928 winter Olympics.
The Olympics Used to Be Men Only
Thankfully, that rule was changed in 1900. Swiss athlete Hélène de Pourtalès was the first woman to medal in the Olympics in 1900 for sailing. And in the last Olympics, the American women out-medaled the men 66 to 41.
The Youngest Olympian Was 10 Years Old
The youngest athlete to compete in the modern Olympics was the Greek gymnast Dimitrios Loundras, who was just 10 years old when he competed at the 1896 games in Athens.
The Winter and Summer Olympics Used to Happen the Same Year
If you felt like the summer and winter games were too close together after the recent pandemic delay, you might be surprised to learn that they used to happen in the same year. The first winter Olympics were held in 1924 (in a different city as the summer Olympics) but the International Olympic Committee changed the schedule in 1994 so that one would happen every two years.
Two People Have Won Gold Medals for Multiple Countries
If you qualify as a competitor for more than one country, you can compete for different countries in multiple Olympics. In 1908, Rugby athlete Daniel Carrol won a gold medal for Australia, and then later won a second gold for the United States. In the 1992 games, weightlifter Kakhi Kakhiashvili won a gold medal as part of the Unified Team and then later won another gold for Greece in 1996 and 2000.
There Was a 1,500-Year Break Between the Ancient and Modern Olympics
The ancient Olympics honored the Greek gods and were held in Greece from 776 B.C. to 393 A.D. That year, Emperor Theodosius I outlawed the games because of their religious affiliation, and 1,503 years passed until they started up again. In 1896, French historian Baron Pierre de Coubertin founded the International Olympic Committee and started the modern revival of the Olympics as we know it today.
There Are More Winter Events This Year Than Ever Before
This year, a record-breaking 109 events will take place in Beijing. Seven new winter events have been added, including men's and women's big air freestyle, women's bobsleigh, mixed team competitions in freestyle skiing aerials, ski jumping, snowboard cross, and mixed relay short track speed skating.
George Poage Was the First Black American to Win a Medal
George Coleman Poage was the first Black American to win a medal in the Olympics when he won two bronze medals in both the 200-meter and 400-meter hurdles in the 1904 Olympics, held in St. Louis, Missouri.
The Olympic Symbol Includes Colors of Every Country's Flag
Olympic founder Baron Pierre de Coubertin designed the Olympic logo (interlocking rings of blue, black, red, yellow, and green) to include at least one color from every country's flag in the world.
Art Used to Be an Official Olympic Sport
Between 1921 and 1948, painters, sculptors, architects, writers, and musicians competed for gold medals alongside the traditional athletes.
Only Five Countries Have Competed in Every Summer Olympics
Australia, France, Great Britain, Greece, and Switzerland are the only countries to have competed in every single one of the modern Summer Olympics.
There Were No Medals Until 1904
In the ancient Olympics, winners were given an olive wreath as a prize for each event. The tradition of handing out gold, silver, and bronze medals in the modern Olympics was started in 1904 and has taken place at every Olympics since.
An American Is the Most Successful Olympic Athlete Ever
American swimmer Michael Phelps holds the record for most medals won at the Olympics with 23 gold, 3 silver, and 2 bronze, all earned between 2012 and 2016. Soviet gymnast Larisa Latynina is close behind him with 18 total medals.
The Medals Are Always Different
While the tradition of winning a gold, silver, or bronze medal is always the same, the actual medals differ from year to year because the host city is allowed to design its medals.
23 Countries Have Hosted the Modern Olympics
The ancient Olympics were only held in Greece, but in modern times countries take turns hosting. The USA, France, Germany, Greece, Japan, Italy, the UK, Canada, Australia, Russia, South Korea, Switzerland, Norway, Austria, China, Brazil, Sweden, Belgium, Holland, Finland, Mexico, Spain, and Yugoslavia have all hosted.
The United States Has Won a Gold Medal at Every Winter Games
The U.S. is the only country to have won gold at every single winter Olympics.