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Cross-Country Skiing Factsheets

Olympic History:          Nordic skiing has been practised in the Scandanavian countries since the 18th century, and competitions are known from the early 19th century.  The sport has been on the Olympic program since the Chamonix games of 1924.

Nordic skiing consists of three major disciplines: cross-country skiing, ski jumping, and Nordic combined, combining elements of both cross-country and ski jumping.  All three disciplines have been contested at all Winter Olympics.  Women have competed only in cross-country skiing at the Olympic Winter Games and first began to do so in 1952, although that will change in 2014 with women competing in ski jumping.

Cross-country skiing consists of races varying from 10 to 50 kilometres for men, and from 5 to 30 kilometres for women, as well as relay races.  The skiiers used to always race in time trial fashion, starting at intervals, but more mass start races have been added.  For the 2002 Olympic Winter Games, 1,500 metre sprint cross-country skiing was added as an event for both men and women.  At Torino in 2006, a two-person team sprint ski race was added for men and women.

In the 1980’s, cross-country skiing underwent a revolution that was started by Bill Koch, the first American to be a top international cross-country skiier.  He changed from the classic cross-country style of alternating legs and arms with the stride being pushed straight backwards, remaining in the ski track, to a style similar to skating on skis, and using shorter skis.  The FIS was urged to ban this style by the north Europeans, but it was decided instead to allow two styles.  However, races are now designated as either “classic” or “freestyle,” with skating being allowed in freestyle races. In the relays, the first two legs are skiied classically while the final two legs are freestyle. Currently, the techniques allowed for each cross-country event alternate, with one style being used at one Olympic Winter Games, and the style reverting to the opposite at the next celebration.

A two-day combined pursuit event, one day classical and one day freestyle, was also contested for both men and women from 1992-2006, but this has been changed.  The race now begins with a classical leg, followed by an immediate break, in which the skiiers change to freestyle skis, and then complete a freestyle leg. It is now called the skiathlon.

As of November 2013, there are 120 member nations affiliated to the FIS.  This makes it the largest International Sporting Federation for any winter sport.  The FIS governs what it terms six disciplines of skiing – alpine skiing, cross-country skiing, ski jumping, Nordic combined, freestyle skiing, and snowboarding.  Cross-country, ski jumping, and Nordic combined are often termed one sport of Nordic skiing.

The 120 member nations of FIS are as follows: Albania, Algeria, American Samoa, Andorra, Argentina, Armenia, Australia, Austria, Azerbaijan, Bahamas, Barbados, Belarus, Belgium, Bermuda, Bolivia, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Brazil, British Virgin Islands, Bulgaria, Cameroon, Canada, Cayman Islands, Chile, China, Chinese Taipei, Colombia, Costa Rica, Croatia, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, Dominica, DPR Korea (North), Egypt, El Salvador, Eritrea, Estonia, Ethiopia, Fiji, Finland, Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, France, Georgia, Germany, Ghana, Great Britain, Greece, Grenada, Guatemala, Guyana, Haiti, Honduras, Hong Kong, Hungary, Iceland, India, Iran, Ireland, Israel, Italy, Jamaica, Japan, Kazakhstan, Kenya, Korea, Kosovo, Kuwait, Kyrgyzstan, Latvia, Lebanon, Lesotho, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Madagascar, Malta, Marocco, Mexico, Moldova, Monaco, Mongolia, Montenegro, Nepal, Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Pakistan, Palestine, Paraguay, Peru, Philippines, Poland, Portugal, Puerto Rico, Romania, Russia, San Marino, Senegal, Serbia, Slovakia, Slovenia, South Africa, Spain, Sudan, Swaziland, Sweden, Switzerland, Tajikistan, Thailand, Timor-Leste, Togo, Trinidad & Tobago, Turkey, Ukraine, United States of America, Uruguay, US Virgin Islands, Uzbekistan, Venezuela, and Zimbabwe.

Ski Jumping Factsheets

Olympic History:          Nordic skiing consists of three major disciplines: cross-country skiing, ski jumping, and Nordic combined, combining elements of both cross-country and ski jumping, all of which have been on the Olympic program since the Chamonix games of 1924. The IOC actually considers ski jumping a discipline within the sport of skiing.

Jumping off hills on skis was pioneered by Norwegian Sondre Norheim in the 19th century, and had developed into a full sport by the 20th century. It has been contested in the Olympic Winter Games since the start in 1924. Originally dominated by participants from Norway, the top competitors now also hail from Finland and Central Europe, with Japan having the best jumpers from Asia.

Three events are currently contested at the Olympics, all for men. Since 2009, women also compete in World Championships, but despite legal action to have the event included for the Vancouver Games, women did not compete in ski jumping in 2010. However, women’s ski jumping will be contested at the 2014 Winter Olympics.

Through 1960, ski jumping at the Olympics had only a single event.  But Olympic ski jumping is now contested on two hills, usually termed the normal and large hill.  The size of the hill has varied over time, but those figures refer to the expected length of the jumps measured to the “norm” point of the hill, and not to the size of the hill.  The exact size of the hills, most commonly measured by the distance of the calculation point (or K-point), has gradually increased. In 1924, the normal hill K-point was at 71 m, while in 2010 it was at 95 m, and the large hill was at 125 m. From 1964-88, the hills were termed the 70 metre (normal) and 90 metre (large), but since 1992, they were often called the 90 and 120 metre hills. The current K-points have been 95 m and 125 m in 2006-14.  In the Olympics, a team event is also contested on the large hill.

Ski jumping is governed by the Fédération Internationale de Ski (FIS). As of November 2013, there are 120 member nations affiliated to the FIS.  This makes it the largest International Sporting Federation for any winter sport.  The FIS governs what it terms six disciplines of skiing – alpine skiing, cross-country skiing, ski jumping, Nordic combined, freestyle skiing, and snowboarding.

The 120 member nations of FIS are as follows: Albania, Algeria, American Samoa, Andorra, Argentina, Armenia, Australia, Austria, Azerbaijan, Bahamas, Barbados, Belarus, Belgium, Bermuda, Bolivia, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Brazil, British Virgin Islands, Bulgaria, Cameroon, Canada, Cayman Islands, Chile, China, Chinese Taipei, Colombia, Costa Rica, Croatia, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, Dominica, DPR Korea (North), Egypt, El Salvador, Eritrea, Estonia, Ethiopia, Fiji, Finland, Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, France, Georgia, Germany, Ghana, Great Britain, Greece, Grenada, Guatemala, Guyana, Haiti, Honduras, Hong Kong, Hungary, Iceland, India, Iran, Ireland, Israel, Italy, Jamaica, Japan, Kazakhstan, Kenya, Korea, Kosova, Kuwait, Kyrgyzstan, Latvia, Lebanon, Lesotho, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Madagascar, Malta, Marocco, Mexico, Moldova, Monaco, Mongolia, Montenegro, Nepal, Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Pakistan, Palestine, Paraguay, Peru, Philippines, Poland, Portugal, Puerto Rico, Rumania, Russia, San Marino, Senegal, Serbia, Slovakia, Slovenia, South Africa, Spain, Sudan, Swaziland, Sweden, Switzerland, Tajikistan, Thailand, Timor-Leste, Togo, Trinidad & Tobago, Turkey, Ukraine, United States of America, Uruguay, US Virgin Islands, Uzbekistan, Venezuela, and Zimbabwe.

Ice Hockey Factsheets

Olympic History:          Ice hockey is a sport of Canadian origin that began in the early 19th century.  It is based on several similar sports played in Europe, notably bandy in Scandinavia, and somewhat similar to the sports of shinny and hurling.  Around 1860, a puck was substituted for a ball, and in 1879, two McGill University students, W. F. Robertson and R. F. Smith, devised the first rules, combining field hockey and rugby regulations.  Originally the game was played nine to a side.  The first recognized team, the McGill University Hockey Club, was formed in 1880.

The sport became the Canadian national sport with leagues everywhere.  In 1894, Lord Stanley of Preston, Governor-General of Canada, donated a Cup that was first won in 1894 by a team representing the Montreal Amateur Athletic Association – the Stanley Cup.

Between the 1880s and World War I ice hockey became popular in Europe.  The first European Championship was played in 1910 at Les Avants in the Swiss Alps, won by Great Britain.  Ice hockey also spread below the border to the United States with the formation of the U.S. Amateur Hockey League, founded in New York in 1896.

Ice hockey was contested at the 1920 Summer Olympics at Antwerp, held in early April.  These were also the first world championships and were played by seven-man sides, the only time seven-man teams played in the Olympics.  In 1924, the Olympics began using the current standard of six-men on the ice at a time. Also, in 1920, the games consisted of two 20-minute halves, for a 40-minute game. In 1924, 1928, 1932, and 1936, the Olympic games were three 15-minute periods, for a 45-minute game.

Ice hockey has been held at every Olympic Winter Games.  Canada dominated early Olympic ice hockey tournaments, as might be expected.  From 1956, when it first entered the Olympic Winter Games, and easily won the ice hockey tournament, until its break-up, the Soviet Union was the pre-eminent country, their dominance interrupted only by huge American upsets in 1960 and 1980.

Beginning in the 1980s, professional hockey players who had played in the National Hockey League (NHL) were declared eligible to compete in the Olympic ice hockey tournament.  These professionals primarily represented Sweden, Finland, or Czechoslovakia at the Olympics, as the Canadian and American players were competing in the NHL season.  However, at Nagano in 1998, the NHL suspended play for two weeks to allow all NHL players to represent their nations at the Olympics.

This has also been the pattern in 2002, 2006, and 2010, and it will be at Sochi in 2014 as well. The NHL continues to allow this although it seems to kick and scream about it between each Olympics. Recently, it has stated that perhaps it would be better to resurrect the World Cup instead of disrupting the NHL season for Olympic competition.

Women’s ice hockey began to develop in the 1920s in Canada.  By the 1960s, women’s ice hockey in Canada was more organized with girls’ leagues throughout the nation.  In 1982 the Ontario Women’s Hockey Association organized the first Canadian national tournament.  Concurrently, women’s teams and leagues began to develop in the United States and Europe.  The first international championship was the World Invitational Tournament in 1987 in Missisauga, Ontario, Canada, and the International Ice Hockey Federation (IIHF) began to plan a womens’ world championships.  European women’s championships began in 1989 and the first women’s world ice hockey championships took place in 1990.

Ice hockey was approved as an Olympic sport for women by the IOC in 1992, and women’s Olympic ice hockey débuted at Nagano in 1998, and has been contested at each Olympics since. Women’s ice hockey has been dominated at the Olympics by Canada, with the United States a close second. No other women’s teams have really challenged these two nations, although in 2006, Sweden did defeat the United States to get to the final and win a silver medal. Because of the dominance of Canada and the United States, and because it is contested by only a few nations for women the IOC has made some mention that perhaps the sport should not be contested for women at the Winter Olympics.

The first international ice hockey federation was the Ligue Internationale de Hockey sur Glace (LIHG), which was formed in 1908 by four national federations: Belgium, France, Great Britain, and Switzerland.  The federation changed its name to the International Ice Hockey Federation in 1954. The IIHF currently (as of November 2013) has 72 affiliated national federations, all of which are also member nations within the IOC. They are as follows:

Andorra, Argentina, Armenia, Australia, Austria, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Belgium, Bosnia & Herzegovina, Brazil, Bulgaria, Canada, Chile, China, Chinese Taipei, Croatia, Czech Republic, Denmark, Democratic People’s Republic (DPR) of Korea (North), Estonia, Finland, France, Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM), Georgia, Germany, Great Britain, Greece, Hong Kong, Hungary, Iceland, India, Ireland, Israel, Italy, Jamaica, Japan, Kazakhstan, Korea (South), Kuwait, Kyrgyzstan, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Macau, Malaysia, Mexico, Moldova, Mongolia, Morocco, Namibia, Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Qatar, Romania, Russia, Serbia, Singapore, Slovakia, Slovenia, South Africa, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Thailand, Turkey, Ukraine, United Arab Emirates, United States.

Bobsledding Factsheets

Olympic History:          Bobsledding as a sport originated in Switzerland in 1886 when an Englishman, Wilson Smith, connected two sleighs with a board to travel from St. Moritz to Celerina.  Bobsledding was first practiced on the Cresta Run at St. Moritz but the run was not suitable for the faster bobsleds, so a separate bob run was constructed there in 1904, the world’s first.  Prior to that time, local roads around St. Moritz were used for bobsled races.  The first bobsled club was formed in 1896 by Lord Francis Helmsley of Britain at St. Moritz.

Bobsledding was on the program of the first Olympic Winter Games in 1924 with a single four-man event.  In 1928, the event was one for sleds with either four- or five-men.  In 1932, the current men’s program of two events, one for two-man sleds, and one for four-man sleds, began.  Bobsledding has been contested at all Olympic Winter Games except for 1960 at Squaw Valley.  Because of the distance to travel to California, only nine countries indicated that they would enter bobsled teams.  The Squaw Valley organizers thus decided not to build a bob run and the sport was not held that year.

Bobsledding at the Olympics was contested for men only through 1998.  In October 1999, the IOC approved the addition of women’s bobsled to the Olympic Winter program and women competed for the first time at Salt Lake City in 2002 in the two-woman bobsled event.

Bobsledding is governed world-wide by Fédération Internationale de Bobsleigh et de Tobogganing (FIBT).  As of November 2013, the FIBT has 64 affiliated member nations, all of which are recognized by the IOC.  This makes it the third smallest International Federation, after curling and luge, in terms of affiliated national federations.

The following nations are current members of the FIBT: American Samoa, Andorra, Argentina, Armenia, Australia, Austria, Azerbaijan, Belgium, Bermuda, Bosnia & Herzegovina, Brazil, Bulgaria, Canada, Chile, China, Chinese Taipei, Croatia, Czech Republic, Denmark, Dominican Republic, Finland, France, Germany, Great Britain, Greece, Hungary, India, Iraq, Ireland, Israel, Italy, Jamaica, Japan, Kazakhstan, Korea, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Mexico, Monaco, Netherlands, New Zealand, Nigeria, Norway, Panama, Poland, Portugal, Puerto Rico, Romania, Russia, Samoa, San Marino, Serbia, Slovakia, Slovenia, South Africa, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Trinidad & Tobago, Turkey, Ukraine, United States, US Virgin Islands, and Venezuela.

Winter Olympic Competing Nations and Medalists

Infostrada’s medal table predictions noted that they expect 26 NOCs to win medals, which would equal the record of Torino 2006 and Vancouver 2010. How many nations have won medals at each Winter Olympics? And how many have won gold medals at each Winter Olympics? Here are the numbers, along with numbers of events available, and the number of competing NOCs.

Year          Events        NOCs    NOCMeds  NOCGolds

1908        4 events               6                    4                   4

1920        4 events             10                   7                   3

1924      16 events             16                10                  8

1928      14 events             25                12                  6

1932      14 events             17                10                  7

1936      17 events             28                11                  8

1948      22 events             28                13               10

1952      22 events             30                13                  8

1956      24 events             32                13                  9

1960      27 events             30                14               10

1964      34 events             36                14               11

1968      35 events             37                15               13

1972      35 events             35                17               14

1976      37 events             37                16               12

1980      38 events             37                19               11

1984      39 events             49                17               11

1988      46 events             57                17               11

1992      57 events             64                20               14

1994      61 events             67                22               14

1998      68 events             72                24               15

2002      78 events             77                24               18

2006      84 events             79                26               18

2010      86 events             82                26               19

For the record, there will be 98 events in Sochi 2014, and we expect about 90 NOCs to compete, although final qualifications and entry lists will not be known in all sports until 19 January.

There are 7 nations that we expect will be competing in the Winter Olympics for the first time – Eritrea, Malta, Paraguay, Timor-Leste (East Timor), Togo, Tonga, and Zimbabwe. Six of the seven have definitely qualified an athlete for Sochi, and Eritrea has a male skiier who is right on the cusp of qualifying – Canadian-born Shannon-Ogbani Abeda.

There are 6 nations that have previously competed at the Winter Olympics who will likely not compete, as follows: Colombia, Ethiopia, Ghana, Senegal, and South Africa. The 6th is North Korea (technically the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, or DPR Korea), although we await word on whether or not Dennis Rodman will be able to switch to a winter sport at the last minute.

You’ll learn more next week when we start publishing our Factsheets on the Winter Competing Nations.

Figure Skating Olympic Record Scores – All the 6.0s

Olympic writer Alan Abrahamsson talked about the problems with figure skating, and noted in there that people do not understand the new scoring system, in place since the 2002 pairs figure skating controversy. Here are the records for Olympic figure skating, both under the current system, and a listing of all the perfect 6.0 scores, under the old system – that people understood. This can also be found in our Figure Skating Factsheets – just posted today.

Olympic Records for Scoring (Current System since 2006)

Men’s Total                    258.33  Yevgeny Plyushchenko (RUS-2006)

Men’s Short                     90.85  Yevgeny Plyushchenko (RUS-2010)

Men’s Free                    167.67  Yevgeny Plyushchenko (RUS-2006)

Women’s Total           228.56  Kim Yu-Na (KOR-2010)

Women’s Short            78.50  Kim Yu-Na (KOR-2010)

Women’s Free           150.06  Kim Yu-Na (KOR-2010)

Pairs Total                    216.57  Shen Xue / Zhao Hongbo (CHN-2010)

Pairs Short                      76.66  Shen Xue / Zhao Hongbo (CHN-2010)

Pairs Free                     141.81  Pang Qing / Tong Jian (CHN-2010)

Dance Total                 221.57  Tessa Virtue / Scott Moir (CAN-2010)

Dance Compulsory   43.76  Ok. Domnina/Mak. Shabalin (RUS-2010)

Dance OSP                     68.41  Tessa Virtue / Scott Moir (CAN-2010)

Dance Free                  110.42  Tessa Virtue / Scott Moir (CAN-2010)

 

Perfect 6.0s at the Olympics (old system – 1908-2002)

From 1908-2002 scoring in figure skating at the Olympic Winter Games was done on a basis of 0-6 points for each performance, with 6.0 being a “perfect” score, considered the ultimate performance. Following is a listing of the 55 times this was done at the Winter Olympics, fully 19 times by the British ice dance couple of Jayne Torvill and Christopher Dean, 16 of them in 1984. The next most are 7 by Heinrich Hübler and Annie Burger in 1908 pairs figure skating. (Note that in 1908 scoring was only by ½-points, so the only score above 5.5 was 6.0, which slightly devalues those scores.) This is followed by 4 by Russian singles skater Aleksey Yagudin in 2002, and by the Soviet ice dance couple of Natalia Bestemianova and Andrey Bukin in 1988.

Year  Phase/Judge        ScoreType      Skater(s)                        NOC    Judge

1980 Singles-SP; J#7   Req. El’m’ts    Xu Zhaoxiao               CHN    GBR

1998 Singles-SP; J#3   Presentation  Elvis Stojko                CAN    CAN

1936 Singles-FS; J#2   Total Score     Verners Auls              LAT     GBR

1936 Singles-FS; J#7   Total Score     Verners Auls               LAT     TCH

1948 Singles-FS; J#3   Total Score     Per Cock-Clausen    DEN    USA

1988 Singles-FS; J#9   Tech. Merit     Brian Orser                 CAN    TCH

1994 Singles-FS; J#1   Tech. Merit     Viktor Petrenko       UKR    ROU

1998 Singles-FS; J#9   Tech. Merit     Philippe Candeloro FRA     FRA

2002 Singles-FS; J#3   Tech. Merit     Aleksey Yagudin       RUS    USA

2002 Singles-FS; J#4   Tech. Merit     Aleksey Yagudin       RUS    ROU

2002 Singles-FS; J#6   Tech. Merit     Aleksey Yagudin       RUS    GER

2002 Singles-FS; J#9   Tech. Merit     Aleksey Yagudin       RUS    AZE

1984 Women -FS; J#4 Tech. Merit     Rosalyn Sumners     USA    ITA

1908 Pairs-FS; J#1       Sport. Merit     Hübler / Burger        GER    GER

1908 Pairs-FS; J#2       Sport. Merit     Hübler / Burger        GER    SUI

1908 Pairs-FS; J#2       General Imp.  Hübler / Burger         GER    SUI

1908 Pairs-FS; J#2       General Imp.  Johnson / Johnson   GBR    SUI

1908 Pairs-FS; J#2       Sport. Merit     Syers / Syers               GBR    SUI

1908 Pairs-FS; J#3       Sport. Merit     Hübler / Burger        GER    ARG

1908 Pairs-FS; J#3       Sport. Merit     Syers / Syers               GBR    ARG

1908 Pairs-FS; J#4       Sport. Merit     Hübler / Burger        GER    GBR

1908 Pairs-FS; J#4       General Imp.  Hübler / Burger          GER    GBR

1908 Pairs-FS; J#5       Sport. Merit     Hübler / Burger        GER    RUS

1976 Pairs-SP; J#3       Req. El’m’ts    Rodnina / Zaytsev     URS    TCH

1994 Pairs-FS; J#8       Tech. Merit     Gordeyeva/Grinkov RUS   RUS

1998 Pairs-FS; J#6       Tech. Merit     Kazakova/Dmitriyev RUS   CZE

1984 Dance-OSP; J#1 Artistic Imp.    Torvill / Dean              GBR   HUN

1984 Dance-OSP; J#1 Tech. Merit     Torvill / Dean               GBR   HUN

1984 Dance-OSP; J#7 Tech. Merit     Torvill / Dean               GBR   ITA

1984 Dance-OSP; J#8 Tech. Merit     Torvill / Dean               GBR   CAN

1988 Dance-OSP; J#9 Tech. Merit     Bestiamanova/Bukin URS FRA

1994 Dance-OSP; J#3 Tech. Merit     Torvill / Dean               GBR   GBR

1994 Dance-OSP; J#5 Tech. Merit     Torvill / Dean               GBR   UKR

1998 Dance-OSP; J#7 Tech. Merit    Krylova/Ovsyannikov RUS RUS

2002 Dance-OSP; J#1 Tech. Merit     Lobacheva/Averbukh RUS  POL

1976 Dance-FD; J#3    Tech. Merit     Pakhomova/Gorshkov URS URS

1984 Dance-FD; J#1    Artistic Imp.    Torvill / Dean               GBR  HUN

1984 Dance-FD; J#1    Tech. Merit     Torvill / Dean                GBR  HUN

1984 Dance-FD; J#2    Tech. Merit     Torvill / Dean                GBR  URS

1984 Dance-FD; J#3    Tech. Merit     Torvill / Dean                GBR  FRG

1984 Dance-FD; J#4    Artistic Imp.    Torvill / Dean                GBR  GBR

1984 Dance-FD; J#4    Tech. Merit     Torvill / Dean                 GBR  GBR

1984 Dance-FD; J#5    Artistic Imp.    Torvill / Dean                GBR  JPN

1984 Dance-FD; J#5    Tech. Merit     Torvill / Dean                  GBR    JPN

1984 Dance-FD; J#6    Tech. Merit     Torvill / Dean                  GBR   TCH

1984 Dance-FD; J#7    Tech. Merit     Torvill / Dean                  GBR    ITA

1984 Dance-FD; J#8    Tech. Merit     Torvill / Dean                  GBR  CAN

1984 Dance-FD; J#9    Tech. Merit     Torvill / Dean                  GBR  USA

1988 Dance-FD; J#1    Tech. Merit     Bestiamanova/Bukin  URS  URS

1988 Dance-FD; J#5    Tech. Merit     Bestiamanova/Bukin  URS   ITA

1988 Dance-FD; J#9    Tech. Merit     Bestiamanova/Bukin  URS   FRA

1994 Dance-FD; J#1    Tech. Merit     Grishchuk / Platov       RUS   RUS

1994 Dance-FD; J#3    Tech. Merit     Torvill / Dean                  GBR   GBR

1998 Dance-FD; J#8    Tech. Merit     Grishchuk / Platov       RUS   ITA

1998 Dance-FD; J#9    Tech. Merit     Grishchuk / Platov        RUS   FRA

 

Perfect 12.0s at the Olympics (Both Scores) (old system – 1908-2002)

And under the old system, there were six occurrences when skaters received a perfect score of 12.0 for their performance, with perfect 6.0 score on both measured elements (which have differed over the years). This was done twice by the German pair of Heinrich Hübler and Annie Burger in 1908 (again with the caveat that scoring was only by ½-points), and four times by the British dance couple of Jayne Torvill and Christopher Dean in 1984.

Year   Phase/Judge           Type    Skater(s)                NOC     Judge

1908  Pairs – FS; J#2         Both      Hübler / Burger     GER      SUI

1908  Pairs – FS; J#4         Both      Hübler / Burger     GER      GBR

1984  Dance – OSP; J#1   Both    Torvill / Dean         GBR      HUN

1984  Dance – FD; J#1      Both    Torvill / Dean         GBR      HUN

1984  Dance – FD; J#4      Both    Torvill / Dean         GBR      GBR

1984  Dance – FD; J#5      Both    Torvill / Dean         GBR      JPN

 

Skeleton Factsheet

Olympic History:     Tobogganing is one of the oldest winter sports.  Descriptions of it in the 16th century are found in literature.  As a racing sport, it can be traced to the mid-19th century when British tourists starting sledding on the snowbound roads of the Alps.  The original form of the sport was the skeleton sleds that were used on the Cresta Run at St. Moritz.

Skeleton sled racing owes it entire early history to St. Moritz and the famed Cresta Run.  The sport developed in that Swiss resort town as a plaything for the rich.  It was written by E. F. Benson in 1913, “There is one Mecca, there is one St. Peter’s, there is one Cresta.  As is Mecca to the Mohammedan, as is St. Peter’s to the Catholic, so is the Cresta Run at St. Moritz to the tobogganer.”

British and American vacationers built the first toboggan run near St. Moritz, on the Klosters Road in nearby Davos, as early as 1882.  In 1884, Major W. H. Bulpetts built a similar track down the Cresta Valley at St. Moritz.  The first toboggan Grand National took place there in 1885, attracting 20 contestants.  All sliders rode at that time in a sitting position.  The prone, head-first position of skeleton racing was introduced about ten years later.  The St. Moritz Tobogganing Club was founded in 1887, and Bulpetts developed the modern model of a skeleton sled in 1902.

For many years the most important races in skeleton, all held at the Cresta Run, were the Grand National and Curzon Cup.  Twice the sport was contested in the Olympics, in 1928 and 1948, both times when the Winter Games were contested at St. Moritz.  World Championships were first held in 1982 and a World Cup circuit for men and women was introduced in 1986.

At the IOC Executive Board Meeting in Athens on 2 October 1999, skeleton was given approval to return to the Olympic program for the 2002 Olympic Winter Games in Salt Lake City, and it has remained on the Program since.

Skeleton is governed world-wide by the bobsled federation, the Fédération Internationale de Bobsleigh et de Tobogganing (FIBT), not the luge federation, which might seem more appropriate.  As of November 2013, the FIBT has 64 affiliated member nations, all of which are recognized by the IOC.  This makes it the third smallest International Federation, after curling and luge, in terms of affiliated national federations.

The following nations are current members of the FIBT: American Samoa, Andorra, Argentina, Armenia, Australia, Austria, Azerbaijan, Belgium, Bermuda, Bosnia & Herzegovina, Brazil, Bulgaria, Canada, Chile, China, Chinese Taipei, Croatia, Czech Republic, Denmark, Dominican Republic, Finland, France, Germany, Great Britain, Greece, Hungary, India, Iraq, Ireland, Israel, Italy, Jamaica, Japan, Kazakhstan, Korea, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Mexico, Monaco, Netherlands, New Zealand, Nigeria, Norway, Panama, Poland, Portugal, Puerto Rico, Romania, Russia, Samoa, San Marino, Serbia, Slovakia, Slovenia, South Africa, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Trinidad & Tobago, Turkey, Ukraine, United States, US Virgin Islands, and Venezuela.

Figure Skating Factsheet

Olympic History:          Figure skating began in the mid- to late-19th century in Europe, but two Americans are responsible for major developments in its history.  In 1850, Edward Bushnell of Philadelphia revolutionized skating technology when he introduced steel-bladed skates.  This allowed the creation of fancy twists and turns on the ice.  Another American, Jackson Haines, a ballet master, lived in Vienna in the 1860’s and added the elements of ballet and dance to figure skating.

Figure skating competitions were held in the 1880s and the International Skating Union was formed in 1892, the first true international governing body of any sport.  Originally men and women competed together, with the first world championship being held in what was then and is now St. Petersburg, Russia (formerly Leningrad) in 1896.  The first women’s championship was held in 1906.  Originally free skating was completely subordinate to the school figures, which entailed tracing pretty figures on the ice.

Figure skating is the oldest sport on the Winter program.  It was contested at the London Olympics of 1908 and again in 1920 at Antwerp.  Events for men, women, and pairs were contested through 1972, when in 1976, ice dancing, long a popular event, was added to the program as a fourth event.  It had been a demonstration event in 1968 at Grenoble.

Scoring has evolved during the century also, as the former predominance of school figures in the scoring gave way in the early 1970s.  In 1972, Janet Lynn of the United States finished third in the Olympics despite being the best free skater by a significant margin (some experts consider her the greatest free skater ever, relative to her era).  This gave impetus to the movement to decrease the importance of school, or compulsory, figures.  In the mid-1980s the ISU ruled that school figures would no longer be held at international competitions.  They last were contested at the 1990 World Championships and were not a part of the figure skating Olympic program beginning in Albertville.

At the 2002 Winter Olympics, a great controversy occurred in the pairs competition, in which the Canadian team of Jamie Salé and David Pelletier was originally placed second behind the Russian pair of Yelena Berezhnaya and Anton Sikharulidze.  But it developed that the French judge had colluded to score the Russians higher in exchange for her French dance team being scored higher in that event.  The ISU and IOC intervened and declared the two teams co-champions.  But this led to a complete overhaul of the figure skating scoring system that was gradually put into place over the next four years.  The scoring moved away from an ordinals system, with places determined by majority ordinal placement, to a point-scoring system in which skaters received points for difficulty and execution.  Deductions were more mandatory and the entire system was very different.  It was used in 2006 for the first time at the Winter Olympics, but has remained very difficult for the public to understand, much more so than the old perfect 6.0 score system, and because of the emphasis on scoring points, some critics say it has turned all events into jumping competitions.

Figure skating is governed internationally by the International Skating Union (ISU), which was founded in July 1892, making it the oldest winter sport IF. The ISU governs all skating on the Olympic Program – figure skating, speed skating, and short-track speed skating.  As of November 2013, the ISU lists itself as having 87 affiliated national federations, but this is only technically correct.  There are actually only 68 nations affiliated with the ISU, as follows: Andorra, Argentina, Armenia, Australia, Austria, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Belgium, Bosnia & Herzegovina, Brazil, Bulgaria, Canada, China, Chinese Taipei, Croatia, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, DPR Korea (North), Estonia, Finland, France, Georgia, Germany, Great Britain, Greece, Grenada, Hong Kong, Hungary, Iceland, India, Indonesia, Ireland, Israel, Italy, Japan, Kazakhstan, Korea, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malaysia, Mexico, Monaco, Mongolia, Morocco, Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Philippines, Poland, Puerto Rico, Romania, Russia, Serbia, Singapore, Slovakia, Slovenia, South Africa, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Thailand, Turkey, Ukraine, United Arab Emirates, United States, and Uzbekistan.

Seventeen nations have two federations – one for figure skating, and one for speed skating.  These seventeen nations are:  Argentina, Australia, Austria, Belgium, Canada, Czech Republic, Finland, Germany, Lithuania, New Zealand, Poland, Russia, Slovakia, South Africa, Sweden, Ukraine, and the United States.  This would make 85 affiliated federations, but the ISU also recognizes two “Club” members, who were among the earliest members of the ISU.  These “Club” members represent Stockholm, Sweden (Stockholms Allmänna Skridskoklubb) (1892) and Davos, Switzerland (Internationaler Schlittsschuh-Club Davos) (1896).

Biathlon Factsheet

Olympic HistoryBiathlon consists of cross-country skiing in which the ski runner stops at intervals to shoot a rifle at a target.  Evidence for a skiing and shooting sport exists in cave paintings in Norway from about 2000 B.C.E., depicting hunters on skis while stalking animals for game.  The modern sport has a military basis, in which Scandinavian soldiers were trained to ski while carrying rifles and to periodically stop and shoot.  Biathlon-type events in Scandinavia were held as early as the 18th century.

The first modern biathlon probably occurred in 1912 when the Norwegian military organized the Forvarsrennet in Oslo, an annual event, which consisted initially of a 17 km. cross-country ski race with two-minute penalties for the shooting part of the competition.  A military patrol event was contested at the Olympic Winter Games as a medal sport in 1924, and a demonstration sport in 1928, 1936, and 1948, although it was not precisely the same as the biathlon.

Attempts to introduce a winter multi-event patterned after the modern pentathlon began in 1948, when the Winter Pentathlon was contested at the St. Moritz Olympics as a demonstration sport.  It consisted of cross-country and downhill skiing, and also shooting, fencing, and horse riding.  The first world championships in biathlon were held in 1958 at Saalfelden, Austria.  The sport quickly was placed on the Olympic program, showing up at Squaw Valley in 1960.  Women’s biathlon made its Olympic début in 1992 as a full medal sport at Albertville.

Olympic biathlon events have consisted of a single men’s race and a men’s relay until 1980 when a second individual event was contested.  The event is scored by time.  In the longer individual race a one-minute penalty is assessed for a missed shooting bulls-eye, and a two-minute penalty is assessed for missing a target.  In the shorter individual race and the relay, missing a target is penalized by requiring the biathlete to ski a 150 metre penalty loop.  For 2002, a new pursuit event of 12 km. for men and 10 km. for women was added to the Olympic program.  In 2006, a mass start sprint event for both men and women was added to the biathlon program.

Originally, biathlon was governed by the Union Internationale de Pentathlon Moderne et Biathlon (UIPMB).  However, in 1993, biathlon separated from the modern pentathlon and formed the International Biathlon Union (IBU) to govern the sport independently.  The IBU currently has 68 affiliated national federations, as of November 2013.  All of the nations are also IOC member nations, with the lone exception of Greenland.

The current member nations are as follows: Algeria, Andorra, Argentina, Armenia, Australia, Austria, Belarus, Belgium, Bosnia & Herzegovina, Brazil, Bulgaria, Canada, Chile, China, Chinese Taipei, Costa Rica, Croatia, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, Dominican Republic, Estonia, Finland, Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, France, Georgia, Germany, Great Britain, Greece, Greenland, Guam, Hungary, India, Iran, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Kazakhstan, Kenya, Korea, Kyrgyzstan, Latvia, Lebanon, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Moldova, Monaco, Mongolia, Morocco, Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Puerto Rico, Romania, Russia, Serbia, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Turkey, Ukraine, United States, US Virgin Islands, and Uzbekistan.

Short-track Speedskating – Factsheet

Olympic History:     Speed skating has been on the program of every Olympic Winter Games, always contested in paired two-person time trials over a track of 400 metres in length, with one exception.  In 1932, the Olympic Winter Games were held in Lake Placid, and the Americans changed the speed skating format, electing to race the events in the American style of mass-start pack racing.  The Europeans protested and several of them, notably Finnish speed skating legend Clas Thunberg, refused to attend, but the Lake Placid Organizing Committee persisted and the events were held in that manner.

Speed skating in the United States and Canada has almost always been skated in mass-start pack races.  It is often contested indoors in this manner, but even the outdoor races were often held pack-style.  The style is actually more exciting than two-person time trials, because the risks are high, and the pack allows for drafting and bursts of very high speed.

In the 1970s short-track speed skating developed as a fully indoor sport in the American mass-start pack style.  The first international competition in short-track took place in Champaign, Illinois (USA) in 1976.  The sport’s popularity spread to Europe as well as North America and official World Championships were first held in 1978.  It is not well known that Bonnie Blair, who won five gold medals in full-track speed skating, started out and won the 1986 World Championships in short-track.

Short-track speed skating was a demonstration sport at the 1988 Olympic Winter Games in Calgary.  It was added to the Olympic program as a full medal sport in 1992 at Albertville.  The program originally had one individual race and one relay race for men and women.  However, at Lillehammer (1994) and Nagano (1998), a second individual race was added.  For Salt Lake City in 2002, the individual 1,500 metres for men and women was added to the short-track speed skating program.  The program is almost the same for men and women with both racing individually over 500 metres, 1,000 metres, 1,500 metres, and a relay (5,000 metres for men, 3,000 metres for women).

The length of the indoor track for short-track speed skating has varied over the years.  It was initially set at 125 metres in 1967, but later changed to 110 metres (1977) and in 1980, changed to its current length – the rather unusual distance of 111.12 metres, which is nine laps to the kilometre, but corresponds to no known Imperial distance of any significance.

Short-track speedskating is governed internationally by the International Skating Union (ISU), which was founded in July 1892, making it the oldest winter sport IF.  The ISU governs all skating on the Olympic Program – figure skating, speed skating, and short-track speed skating.  As of November 2013, the ISU lists itself as having 87 affiliated national federations, but this is only technically correct.  There are actually only 68 nations affiliated with the ISU, as follows: Andorra, Argentina, Armenia, Australia, Austria, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Belgium, Bosnia & Herzegovina, Brazil, Bulgaria, Canada, China, Chinese Taipei, Croatia, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, DPR Korea (North), Estonia, Finland, France, Georgia, Germany, Great Britain, Greece, Grenada, Hong Kong, Hungary, Iceland, India, Indonesia, Ireland, Israel, Italy, Japan, Kazakhstan, Korea, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malaysia, Mexico, Monaco, Mongolia, Morocco, Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Philippines, Poland, Puerto Rico, Romania, Russia, Serbia, Singapore, Slovakia, Slovenia, South Africa, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Thailand, Turkey, Ukraine, United Arab Emirates, United States, and Uzbekistan.

Seventeen nations have two federations – one for figure skating, and one for speed skating.  These seventeen nations are:  Argentina, Australia, Austria, Belgium, Canada, Czech Republic, Finland, Germany, Lithuania, New Zealand, Poland, Russia, Slovakia, South Africa, Sweden, Ukraine, and the United States.  This would make 85 affiliated federations, but the ISU also recognizes two “Club” members, who were among the earliest members of the ISU.  These “Club” members represent Stockholm, Sweden (Stockholms Allmänna Skridskoklubb) (1892) and Davos, Switzerland (Internationaler Schlittsschuh-Club Davos) (1896).