The Winter Olympics began in 1924 and has been growing in leaps and bounds since then. Like its summer cousin, there are some events that capture sporting fans’ imagination more than others. These events draw the largest spectator crowds and get the most airtime on television.
It would be prudent to say that of the 15 events featured at the Winter Olympic Games, the following are the most popular:
Always a fan favorite, figure skating has a number of categories for which enthusiasts eagerly watch every turn on the ice. The categories are:
-Singles (Men’s and Ladies): Skaters perform beautiful twirls and jumps in time to music.
-Ice Dancing: mixed couples perform to music. One important aspect of this discipline is that the man must not lift his partner higher than his shoulders.
-Pairs: Similar to Ice Dancing in that it involves couples.
In the men’s event, the USA has consistently done well, winning more gold medals than any other country. The costumes are as much a part of the allure of this event as the grace displayed by the figure skaters.
Alpine Skiing (Slalom)
Added to the Winter Olympics in 1936 in Germany, this sport has a number of categories that are easy to understand by fans. Its hair raising turns and super fast speeds have made it one of the more popular events at the Winter Olympic Games. Skiers have been known to reach speeds of almost 81 miles per hour.
One of the features that make this event so popular is that skiers, despite their speed must pass through a number of gates while traveling down what is called a vertical drop. If a gate is missed, the competitor has to climb back up and go through the gate or face disqualification. This event is definitely not for the faint of heart.
Alpine skiing includes:
-Super G (also known as Super Giant Slalom)
Both the men and women’s events hold the same appeal for spectators. Not surprisingly, the top three countries over the years have been Austria, Switzerland and France.
The dizzying jumps and turns keep spectators enthralled as they watch skiers perform almost unbelievable feats. Apart from the beauty of the display of man against nature, spectators hold their breath at the indescribable spills that are part and parcel of free style skiing.
Men’s Ice Hockey
This event may well be the most popular of the Winter games. It has not lost favor since the very beginning of the event. In fact, this is just one of six original sports that started the Winter Games.
This event became an official game in the Winter Olympics in 1998. Prior to this it was a demonstration game, also known as “Chess on Ice” due to its use of strategy. There are two events, men’s and women’s, although a failed bid was made to add a mixed doubles category for the upcoming 2010 Games in Vancouver, Canada.
Bobsled or Bobsleigh is also fairly popular and always draws a sizeable audience. It has been a part of the Winter Olympics since the beginning. The three events are the two-man, two-woman and four-man races, and the four-man event is generally the most popular.
Overall, the honor for winning the most gold medals in the Winter Olympics goes to Norway followed by the United States of America. The Winter Olympics, while not as popular as the Summer Olympics has steadily grown over the years to capture a sizeable audience.