Fun facts and things to know about the 2022 Winter Olympic Games

Tricia Swenson
Vail Daily News
The Colorado Snowsports museum hosted an event last week about the 2022 Winter Olympic Games. The Colorado Snowsports Museum houses history that dates back to the first Winter Olympics held in Chamonix, France in 1924.
PollyB.Photo/Courtesy photo.

Are you ready for the Olympics? Last week, reporter Matt Renoux from 9News and Ron Mooney from the Colorado Snowsports Museum spent the evening talking to a full house as well as viewers on Zoom about the 2022 Winter Games during the museum’s “Through the Lens” series.

Renoux has covered six Olympic Games in person during his career and also worked on preview stories in Tokyo in 2019 to share once the 2020 Olympics, which were actually held in 2021 due to COVID-19. Rooney has been to many Olympic Games and even sported his 1980 Olympic Winter Games t-shirt from Lake Placid, New York, with “Roni the Racoon” on it. Together, their knowledge of the Games past and present got the crowd amped for what’s coming in Beijing.

Dancers perform during the opening ceremony of the 2022 Winter Olympics, Friday, Feb. 4, 2022, in Beijing.
Jeff Roberson/AP Photo

Here are some trivia, fun facts and things watch for in the 2022 Winter Olympic Games in China

  • The first Winter Olympic Games were held in Chamonix, France, in 1924. Billed as International Sports Week, the event hosted 16 events and athletes from 16 countries. Since then, the number of events at the Winter Games has tripled and the number of countries participating has quadrupled.
  • The Winter Olympics used to be held during the same year as Summer Games until 1992
  • Major geopolitical events impacted the Winter Games. Events surrounding World War II shut down the games for 12 years. When the games returned in 1948, Germany, which had hosted the games before the war, and Japan, were not invited to compete.
  • In 1998, snowboarding and curling were officially added to the program at the Winter Games in Nagano, Japan
  • The Winter X Games started in 1997, the year before snowboarding events were added and has served as an unofficial testing ground for the Olympics. Halfpipe, skicross and snowboardcross and slopestyle all appeared in the X Games before they made their Olympic debut.
  • Beijing is the first city to have a summer and winter Olympics. Beijing is also the first Olympic venue to host the Games where natural snow is not abundant. There are hundreds of snow guns and necessary equipment used to create artificial snow at the snow-centric venues
  • Why Beijing? The International Olympic Committee didn’t have many countries to choose from. Almaty, Kazakhstan, was the only other country that was in the running. Oslo, Norway was vying for the spot but then the IOC came in with their list of things they would need, like a couple of dedicated traffic lanes 24 hours a day, and more, and Norway declined.
  • Why is China paying a sizable amount of money to host the Winter Olympic Games? Because there’s an emerging market for skiing and snowboarding in Eastern Asian countries.
  • Many of the venues from the 2008 Summer Games were able to be converted for use as Winter Games venues. Beijing only had to build one new structure, the National Speed Skating Oval. Previous venues like the National Aquatics Center, used for the swimming event and referred to as the “Water Cube,” has been converted for curling and will be referred to as the “Ice Cube.”
  • A Colorado company called Populus won a contest to design the Ice Cube. The organizing committee wanted the ice to be as cold as possible. Populus created a roof similar in structure to the Denver International Airport to help cool the ice efficiently. World records may be set because of the harder, more solid ice. Ice is a lot more firm at higher altitude, and the elevation of Beijing is 141 feet above sea level.
A snowboarder trains on the slopestyle course ahead of the 2022 Winter Olympics, Friday, Feb. 4, 2022, in Zhangjiakou, China.
Francisco Seco/AP Photo
  • Unfamiliar venues and courses will level the playing field at these Winter Games. Typically you have test events before every Olympics, but many athletes, like the Alpine ski racers, have not had an event on the downhill course. All practices are going to be televised. Athletes may be less aggressive since they won’t be familiar with the terrain during training runs. It will all come down to how well the athletes can adapt.
  • There are seven new events in the 2022 Winter Games. Look for more women competing and mixed team events like snowboardcross relay, freestyle skiing aerials and short track speed skating relay. Brand new is the monobob and is for women only.
  • Monobob is the individual version of the bobsled event. Everyone gets the same sled and it’s based on athletic ability and skill. So, countries that maybe don’t have the money to put into competitive advantages of enhancing their sleds can be more competitive in monobob because everyone has the same sled.
  • At the 2018 Olympics, Team USA won nine gold medals: two team medals in women’s hockey, and mens’s curling, and seven individuals won medals: Shaun White, Chloe Kim, Jamie Anderson, Red Gerard, David Wise, Jessie Diggins & Kikkan Randall.
  • China says it will relax some of the restrictions on W-Fi and allow access to social media websites like Facebook and Instagram so athletes can share posts.
  • Robots are a huge part of the Winter Games and the Athlete Village. From greeting people to dispensing sanitizer, to making and even delivering food, the lyrics from that Styx song may need to be changed from “Domo arigato, Mr. Roboto” to “Xie xie, Mr. Roboto.”
  • Mascots are a standard at modern day Olympic Games. Beijing has revealed two mascots, one for the Olympic Games and one for the Paralymic Games. Bing Dwen Dwen is a pudgy panda whose name means ice (bing) and children (dwen) in Mandarin. The Panda is China’s national animal. Shuey Rhon Rhon is a Chinese Lantern Child and will serve as the mascot for the Paralympic Games held in March. Shuey Rhon Rhon represents courage and friendship.


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