Sochi marks new chapter in Olympic Winter Games history
When the Olympic Winter Games were first held in 1924, there were just 258 athletes from 16 National Olympic Committees (NOCs) taking part. In Sochi, however, there will be more than 2,800 competitors from a record 87 NOCs.
The Sochi 2014 Olympic Winter Games will also see 12 new Olympic events join the programme, with the debuts of biathlon mixed relay, figure skating team event, luge team relay ski halfpipe, ski slopestyle, snowboard slopestyle, snowboard parallel slalom and women’s ski jumping marking yet another significant chapter in the history of the Olympic Winter Games.
The first Winter Games, in 1924, were initially known as the "International Winter Sports Week", but were retroactively named the first Olympic Winter
Games two years later at the 24th IOC Session held in Lisbon.
Since then, a further 20 editions have taken place, with Sochi set to mark the 22nd time that the Winter Games have been held.
Over the years, the Winter Games have seen many memorable moments, including Sonja Henie’s three successive figure skating gold medals between 1928 and 1936, Toni Sailer’s gold medals in downhill, slalom and giant slalom in 1956, Franz Klammer’s downhill master-class in 1976, Eric Heiden’s five gold haul, and the stunning ice dance performance of Great Britain’s Jayne Torvill and Christopher Dean in 1984.
The Games have also seen the introduction of many new innovations, with the Cortina d'Ampezzo Games in 1956 being the first to be televised live and the 1960 Games in Squaw Valley marking the first time that slow-motion replays had been used. In 1964, timing to a hundredth of a second was introduced in Alpine skiing, while colour television coverage was first seen during the 1968 Winter Games in Grenoble.
The Winter Games have also created a number of significant legacies over the years, with the Games in Squaw Valley, Lake Placid and Turin all helping to boost local tourism industries, Calgary 1988 and Sale Lake City 2002 providing world-class facilities for their regions and Lillehammer 1994 marking the first time that sustainability played an integral role in Games preparations.
As Sochi 2014 approaches, all eyes will be on the Russian resort to see what it will add to long and illustrious history of the Olympic Winter Games.