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Winter Olympics

The Winter Olympic games first took place in 1924 in the town of Chamonix, France. Originally there were only seven disciplines or categories; Alpine, cross country skiing, figure skating, ice kockey, Nordic combined, ski jumping and speed skating. Today thereare 15 categories. As with the summer Olympics, the event is held every four years. The games were interrupted in 1936 due toWorld War 2, but resumed in 1948. Up until 1992 the winter Olympics and the summer Olympics were held in the same year, then the International Olympic Committee decided that they should be held in alternating even years, consequently the 1992 Olympics were followed 2 years later in 1994.

The winter Olympics have only ever been in three continents and only in the Northern Hemisphere. This year they will be held in Russia for the first time, in the town of Sochi.The following winter Olympics will be another first, as the 2018 games will be held in Pyeongchang, South Korea. An interesting fact, since the inception of the games and of the 12 participating countries,only the USA have won a gold medal on every occaision. In the early years there were two notable gold medalists, Sonja Henie ofNorway became the youngest Olympian to win gold at the tender age of 15 for figure skating, and Eddie Eagan became the first andonly Olympian to win a gold medal in the summer olympics (boxing), and a gold in the winter olympics for mens bobsleigh.

The winter olympics have grown considerably from the early years. In the 2010 games held in Vancouver, Canada, 2500 competitors from over 80 countries participated in 86 events. Unfortunately it was marred by the death of a Georgian athlete, Nodar Kumaritashvili who died in a training run on the first day of the games. This was the second occasion that an athlete had diedduring the games.

Today the games are watched all over the world and broadcasting is done for viewers in prime time slots. In 2006 TV rights were bought by NBC for a staggering $613 million, putting much needed funds into this exciting and great sports event.

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