History of all the Past Winter Olympics

Sochi 2014 has finally come to an end, after a breathtaking Closing Ceremony with a handover to South Korea for the 2018 Winter Olympics.

Here’s a glance at all the past Winter Olympic Games from the first one in 1924.

Chamonix 1924 (France)

Held at the foot of Mont Blanc, and held in the same year as the Summer Olympics, a tradition continued until 1992, after which it was held 2 years after the summer Olympic Games.

16 nations took part in this very first Winter Olympics. The host nation France won no gold medals, just 3 bronze. Norway came first in the medal table, with 4 gold medals (17 medals in total).

St Moritz 1928 (Switzerland)

The opening ceremony was accompanied by a blizzard, and the games itself was beset by unusually warm weather, which brought its own problems. The host nation won just one bronze medal, and Norway topped the medal table with 6 gold medals (15 medals in total). USA came second.

Lake Placid 1932 (New York, USA)

The first Winter Olympics hosted by the United States. Opened by FD Roosevelt. The US came top of the medal table, with 6 golds, and a total of 12 medals. 17 nations participated.

Garmisch-Partenkirchen 1936 (Bavaria, Germany)

A controversial games, being held in Nazi Germany. 28 nations participated. Alpine skiing made its Winter Olympics debut. The host nation won 3 gold medals and 3 silver medals. The medals were larger and heavier than at any Winter Olympics before or since. Norway came first in the medal table with 7 gold medals (15 medals altogether). Germany has not hosted the Winter Olympics since 1936.

Sapporo 1940 (Japan)

Cancelled due to Japan’s invasion of China, and the outbreak of the Second World War.

Cortina d’Ampezzo 1944 (Italy)

Cancelled due to World War Two.

St Moritz 1948 (Switzerland)

An austerity games with just outdoor venues, being the first postwar Winter Games. Japan and Germany not invited to participate. St Moritz previously hosted the games 20 years earlier, in 1928. Norway and Sweden came joint first in the medal table: each won 4 gold, 3 silver, and 3 bronze.

Oslo 1952 (Norway)

Norway topped the medal table with 7 gold medals, and 16 medals in total. USA came second. Hjalmar Andersen of Norway won 3 golds in speed skating, the most successful single athlete in the 1952 Winter Olympics. Germany dominated the bobsleigh.

Cortina d’Ampezzo 1956 (Italy)

32 nations took part, more than any previous Winter Olympics. The Soviet Union made its debut, and topped the medal count with 7 gold medals, and 16 medals in total, which matched Norway’s achievement 4 years earlier. The lack of snow for the skiing events was resolved by the Italian Army, which transported tonnes of snow to the venue. This was the first Winter Olympics to be televised globally, and won more corporate sponsorship than any previous Winter Olympics.

Squaw Valley 1960 (California, USA)

The only Winter Olympics to omit the bobsleigh, due to the expense of building a bobsleigh track. The Soviet Union took first place in the medal table with 7 golds (21 in total). This was a controversial choice of venue, being at such high altitude, and some of the other nations felt the alpine ski courses were not up to standard. However, this was the first Winter games to have an Olympic Village.

Innsbruck 1964 (Austria)

A Winter Olympics of tragedy, with the deaths of alpine skiier Ross Milne of Australia, and British luge competitor Kazimierz Kay-Skrzypeski. Soviet Union again tops the medal count with 11 gold medals (25 in total), an even better performance than the previous Winter Olympics in Squaw Valley 1960.

Grenoble 1968 (France)

Norway topped the medal table with 6 golds (14 medals in total).  The Soviet Union came second, with a total of 13 medals.

Sapporo 1972 (Japan)

Japan dominated the ski jumping, while the Soviet Union dominated the cross country skiing. The Soviet Union came first in the medal table with 8 gold medals.

Innsbruck 1976 (Austria)

Having hosted the Winter Olympics just 12 years previously, Innsbruck had plenty of experience in organising the games, and made security a priority after the mass murder of Israeli athletes at the Munich Games.

The Soviet Union were the overwhelming winners in the medal table with 13 gold medals (27 medals in total).

Lake Placid 1980 (New York, USA)

Dubbed the “miracle on ice” by the press, the US men’s ice hockey team won gold in an epic final against the Soviet Union.

Sarajevo 1984 (Yugoslavia)

Torvill & Dean won maximum possible scores for artistic performance in the ice dancing, and this British pair became world famous overnight.

Calgary 1988 (Alberta, Canada)

More nations took part (57) than any previous Winter Olympics. Canada, the host nation, won no gold medals. The Jamaican bobsleigh team crashed out, but they were the inspiration for the 1993 comedy film ‘Cool Runnings’.

Albertville 1992 (France)

This was the last Winter Olympics to take place in the same year as the summer olympics. It was the first Winter Olympics to see mogul skiing, and short-track speed skating. The newly unified Germany topped the medal table with 10 gold medals (26 medals in total).

Lillehammer 1994 (Norway)

The first Winter Olympics not to be held in the same year as the summer olympics, which set the precedent for all future Winter Olympics. Russia won most gold medals (11), while Norway won most medals in total (26).

Nagano 1998 (Japan)

This Winter Olympics saw the first appearance of snowboarding, and also curling. Germany came first in the medal count, with 12 gold medals (29 in total).

Salt Lake City 2002 (Utah, USA)

The most financially successful (and the most watched worldwide) than any previous Winter Olympics. Norway took home most gold medals.

Turin 2006 (Italy)

The second time Italy has hosted the Winter Olympics, the first was 1956. Germany came first in the medal table with 11 golds, with USA a close second.

Vancouver 2010 (British Colombia, Canada)

Having suffered the embarrassment of winning no gold medals in previous Winter Olympics it hosted, this time Canada topped the gold medal table with 14 golds. This smashed the ‘host nation gold medal tally’ record previously held jointly by the Soviet Union (13 golds in 1976), and Norway (13 golds in 2002).

Sochi 2014 (Russia)

The most successful athlete of this Winter Olympics was Dutch speedskater Irene Wurst, who won 2 golds and 3 silvers, a stunning achievement. Russia came first in the gold medal count, with 13 golds, and a total of 33 medals. Norway came second with 11 gold medals.

USA won the most bronze medals (12), and Belarus dominated the 15k biathlon. Sochi 2014 was the most expensive Winter Olympics by far, more expensive than all the previous Winter Olympics put together.

Dominic Londesborough is a personal trainer in London and founder of Fitness4London.com