Do you enjoy watching top athletes from around the world compete on snow and ice? If you’re a fan of winter sports, mark your calendar for February 9-25 for the 2018 Winter Olympics. This year, the Games will be held in PyeongChang, South Korea, 80 miles east of Seoul. Here’s what you can expect from the Games, along with a brief history of the Winter Olympic Games.

Brief History of the Winter Olympics

The first Winter Olympic Games was in 1924 in Chamonix, France, and involved sports performed on ice and snow, such as ice hockey, cross-country skiing, ice skating, and ski jumping. They continued to take place every four years, with the only exceptions being in 1940 and 1944 because of World War II.

The Summer and Winter Olympic Games used to take place during the same calendar years, until 1992 when The International Olympic Committee modified the schedule because of increasing expenses and logistic problems. Thus, in 1992 the Winter Olympics were held in Albertville, France, and two years later, in 1994, they were held, again, in Lillehammer, Norway. For the past 25 years, both the Summer and Winter Games have occurred in even-numbered years, in separate four-year cycles.

Some of the winter sports that have been added include freestyle skiing, Alpine skiing, short track, speed skating and snowboarding. Other sports, such as bobsleigh and curling, were added and discounted but then reintroduced again.

For these Games, there will be 102 sporting events in which athletes will get the opportunity to win gold, silver or bronze medals to bring back to their countries.

What’s New in This Year’s Winter Games

  • There will be six new events for earning medals, such as a competition for alpine team skiing.
  • The 2018 Winter Games will feature the highest number of male and female mixed events in the history of the Olympics.
  • More events will be held for female athletes than in past Olympic competitions.
  • For the first time ever, the Games will be televised live across all the time zones, instead of having to watch delayed tapes of events as in prior years.

Fun Facts

  • The United States is the only country that has won gold medals at each Games.
  • Norway is the country earning the highest number of gold medals, winning 107 gold medals, along with an overall total of 303 medals.
  • Japan and German were banned four times from participating in the Games.
  • Ice hockey and figure skating used to be part of the Summer Olympics.
  • Since their inception, the Winter Games have been held in 11 countries, representing three continents.
  • The United Sates has hosted the Winter Olympics four times. Other countries that have been hosts include France, Austria, Canada, Japan, Italy, Norway and Switzerland. Several of these countries have hosted the games more than once.
  • Only Northern Hemisphere countries have hosted the Winter Olympics.
  • The warmest city that’s ever hosted the Winter Olympics is Sochi, Russia, which has an average temperature of 42.8F in February.
  • The most costly Olympic Games were the Sochi games, which ran around $51 billion dollars.