Winter Olympic National Team – the Big and the Small

The United States has entered a team of 230 athletes for the Sochi Winter Olympics. It has been fairly well documented that this is the largest team ever for one nation at the Winter Olympics. Not as much has been written about Canada’s team for Sochi, which has 221 athletes, the second largest team ever when it was announced a few days ago.

Now, this is somewhat artificial because of the way the Winter Olympics have increased in size over the years. In 1924 at Chamonix, there were only 16 events and the first time there were more than 50 events at the Winter Olympics was at Albertville in 1992, with 57. There were 86 events at Vancouver in 2010 but Sochi will have 98 events, the largest percentage increase since 2002, when there were 78 events after 68 in Nagano in 1998 (14.7% increase) and 1964, when the Winter Olympics went from 27 events at Squaw Valley to 34 at Innsbruck (25.9% increase).

But still, it is rare to field an Olympic team with 200 or more athletes. To date, only the United States and Canada have ever fielded a Winter Olympic team with 200+ athletes. Russia’s team has just been announced and appears to be about 223 athletes, making it second only to the USA 2014 team in size, although it is not yet fully available on the Sochi 2014 website. The times that a nation has had a Winter Olympic team with 200+ competitors, or will have, are in the list below:

United States                            2014                        230

Russia                                            2014                        223

Canada                                          2014                        221

United States                            2010                        212

Canada                                          2010                        201

United States                            2006                        204

United States                            2002                        202

And on the other extreme, the following nations have had only 1 Winter Olympic competitor – ever.

Albania

British Virgin Islands

Cameroon

Cayman Islands

Colombia

Egypt

Ethiopia

Ghana

Guam

Honduras

Kenya

Madagascar

Montenegro

Pakistan

Swaziland

Tajikistan

Thailand

Uruguay

Of those, Albania, the British Virgin Islands, Montenegro, Pakistan, and Thailand will have competitors in Sochi and will drop off the above list.

And here are the nations that have competed at the Winter Olympics, but have not yet had a woman compete:

Albania

American Samoa

Bermuda

Bolivia

British Virgin Islands

Cameroon

Cayman Islands

Costa Rica

Egypt

Ethiopia

Fiji

Ghana

Guam

Jamaica

Kenya

Madagascar

Montenegro

Nepal

Netherlands Antilles

Pakistan

Philippines, The

San Marino

Senegal

Swaziland

Tajikistan

Thailand

Trinidad & Tobago

Uruguay

Thailand will have a female Alpine skiier in Sochi, the concert violinist Vanessa-Mae, who will compete as Vanessa Vanakorn. Albania and Montenegro have also entered women for the first time at the Winter Olympics.

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