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Individual Medal Sweeps

We described yesterday how nations have swept the medals at various Winter Olympic events. An individual can never do that at one Olympics, obviously (although see below re Beckie Scott), but an individual medal sweep is possible, if an athlete can win a full set of Olympic medals – gold, silver, and bronze.

Now this is not so uncommon, but it is rare when an athlete achieved an individual medal sweep in the same individual event. In fact, it has only happened 10 times at the Winter Olympics, as follows:

Athlete                                              Gdr   NOC   Sport  Event              Meds

Claudia Pechstein                             F      GER   SSK    5K               3/1/1 – 5

Silke Kraushaar                                  F      GER   LUG   Singles      1/1/1 – 3

Karin Enke-Kania                              F      GDR  SSK    500 m        1/1/1 – 3

Claudia Pechstein                             F      GER   SSK    3K               1/1/1 – 3

Christa Rothenburger-Luding   F      GER   SSK    500 m       1/1/1 – 3

Kari Traa                                                 F      NOR   FRS    Moguls    1/1/1 – 3

Armin Zöggeler                                 M     ITA      LUG    Singles     2/1/2 – 5

Knut Johannesen                             M     NOR   SSK    10K            1/1/1 – 3

Ådne Søndrål                                     M      NOR   SSK    1,500 m   1/1/1 – 3

Bob de Jong                                        M     NED    SSK    10K            1/1/1 – 3

Note that German Claudia Pechstein has actually done this twice, in the 3,000 and 5,000 metres speedskating events, with 5 medals in the 5,000. Italian luger Armin Zöggeler has also won 5 medals in one individual event, in men’s singles luge.

Pechstein’s record would likely be more impressive except that she missed the 2010 Winter Olympics because of a suspension due to suspicion of blood doping due to abnormal reticulocytes in her blood sample. She returned in 2011 and continues to compete and should be in Sochi. In 2013 she won bronze medals in both the 3,000 and 5,000 at the World Single-Distance World Championships, so she could certainly extend these records. She also won bronze medals in the 5K at that tournament in both 2011 and 2012, making her a strong threat to medal in the 5K in Sochi.

Five athletes have won 5 Olympic medals in the same event at the Winter Olympics. In addition to Pechstein and Zöggeler, this has been done by the following:

Ricco Groß                     M   GER   Biathlon               Relay           4/1/0 – 5

Georg Hackl                  M   GER   Luge                        Singles        3/2/0 – 5

Harri Kirvesniemi      M   FIN     X-Country Ski   Relay           0/0/5 – 5

Kirvesniemi is the only Olympian to win 5 bronze medals in the same event, Winter or Summer. Except for Pechstein, all are long since retired and will not be winning a sixth medal. But if Pechstein can win a medal in the 5,000 metres at Sochi it would give her 6 medals in the same event, which would be a new best for the Winter Olympics, and equal the record for the Summer Olympics.

Both Aládar Gerevich (HUN) in fencing team sabre and Hans Günter Winkler (FRG) in equestrian team jumping won 6 medals in the same event. Gerevich’s performance is even more remarkable because all of his medals were gold medals.

If she can win a 6th medal in the 5K, Pechstein’s performance would surely outshine Gerevich and Winkler, because hers would be in an individual event.

There is also the unique case of Canada’s Beckie Scott, who can claim a full set of medals from the same event at the same time. At the 2002 Winter Olympics in Salt Lake City, Scott finished third in the pursuit race, behind Russians Olga Danilova and Larisa Lazutina. But both Russians then tested positive for PEDs after the 30 km race, however, they were allowed to initially keep their medals for the pursuit. It was then revealed, however, that Lazutina had tested positive twice at World Cup events prior to Salt Lake City, so she was disqualified from all 2002 Winter Olympic events and Scott moved up to the silver medal. The Canadian Olympic Committee then appealed against Danilova, stating that she should be disqualified from all Olympic events if she tested positive in any event at the Olympics. This was upheld by the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) and Scott then was moved up to the gold medal position, receiving her gold medal on 25 June 2004.

Now in team events, it is much more common to win a full set of Olympic medals in the same event. Here are the 23 Winter Olympians who have done that – 10 women and 13 men:

Name                                      Gdr   NOC  Sport                      Event     Meds

Galina Kulakova                    F     URS   X-Country Ski   Relay     2/1/1 – 4

Angela Ruggiero                    F     USA   Ice Hockey          —            1/2/1 – 4

Jenny Schmidgall-Potter  F     USA   Ice Hockey          —            1/2/1 – 4

Kati Wilhelm                            F     GER   Biathlon              Relay     1/1/1 – 3

Andrea Henkel                       F     GER   Biathlon               Relay     1/1/1 – 3

Albina Akhatova                   F      RUS  Biathlon                Relay     1/1/1 – 3

Alevtina Kolchina                 F      URS  X-Country Ski   Relay     1/1/1 – 3

Marina Klimova                    F      EUN  Figure Skating  Dance   1/1/1 – 3

Tricia Dunn-Luoma             F      USA  Ice Hockey           —           1/1/1 – 3

Katie King                                 F     USA  Ice Hockey           —            1/1/1 – 3

Igor Kravchuk                       M     RUS  Ice Hockey           —            2/1/1 – 4

Jan Behrendt                         M    GER  Luge                        Doubl.   2/1/1 – 4

Stefan Krauße                      M     GER  Luge                        Doubl.   2/1/1 – 4

Wolfgang Hoppe                M     GER  Bobsledding       Four        1/2/1 – 4

Fritz Fischer                          M     GER  Biathlon                Relay      1/1/1 – 3

Eugenio Monti                     M     ITA    Bobsledding        Four        1/1/1 – 3

Eugenio Monti                     M     ITA    Bobsledding        Two         1/1/1 – 3

Markus Zimmermann     M     GER  Bobsledding        Two         1/1/1 – 3

Eero Mäntyranta               M     FIN    X-Country Ski     Relay      1/1/1 – 3

Sergey Ponomarenko      M    EUN  Figure Skating    Dance    1/1/1 – 3

Darius Kasparaitis             M    RUS  Ice Hockey             —            1/1/1 – 3

Aleksey Zhamnov              M    RUS  Ice Hockey             —            1/1/1 – 3

Hannu Manninen               M    FIN    Nordic Comb.     Team      1/1/1 – 3

Note that Eugenio Monti has done this twice, in two-man and four-man bobsledding.

Are any 2014 Olympians in position to achieve an individual medal sweep in an individual event? There are a few who could do this, but the biggest threats are Marlies Schild, Austrian alpine skiier who has a silver and a bronze medal in women’s slalom; and Ole Einar Bjørndalen, Norwegian biathlete who has a gold and a silver in the biathlon pursuit, and needs only a bronze to complete his medal sweep. Schild needs a gold medal in slalom, but she has already won 2 World Cup slaloms in December 2013, and she was the World Cup slalom champion in the last 2 seasons.

Bjørndalen’s is looking after bigger game. If he wins any medal in Sochi, it will give him 12 Winter Olympic medals, tying Bjørn Dæhlie’s Winter Olympic record for most medals won. Can he do it? Can he complete the medal sweep in biathlon pursuit? Can Pechstein win a sixth Olympic medal in the 5,000 metre speedskating? Stay tuned.

Olympic Medal Sweeps

Winning an Olympic medal is a major accomplishment, and a nation usually exults in response. But sweeping all the medals in an event, with all athletes from one nation standing on all steps of the podium, is much rarer, especially at the Winter Olympics.

This has happened 260 times at the Summer Olympics, but only 39 times so far at the Winter Olympics. This has been done by 10 different nations. The entire list of all Winter Olympic medal sweeps is given below.

Year     Sport                                Event            NOC                              Gdr

1952     X-Country Skiing    10 km.           Finland                              F

1960     X-Country Skiing    10 km.           Soviet Union                  F

1964     Alpine Skiing              Downhill     Austria                              F

1964     X-Country Skiing    10 km.           Soviet Union                  F

1964     Luge                                Singles         Germany                           F

1964     Speed Skating           500 m           Soviet Union                   F

1972     Luge                                Singles         German Demo. Rep.    F

1984     Luge                                Singles         German Demo. Rep.    F

1984     Speed Skating           3,000 m       German Demo. Rep.    F

1988     Luge                                Singles         German Demo. Rep.    F

1988     X-Country Skiing    20 km.          Soviet Union                    F

1998     Alpine Skiing             Combined  Germany                           F

2002     Luge                                Singles         Germany                          F

2006     Luge                                Singles         Germany                          F

2010     Luge                                Singles         Germany                          F

1908     Figure Skating          Singles          Sweden                          M

1924     X-Country Skiing    50 km.           Norway                          M

1924     Nordic Combined   Individual   Norway                          M

1928     X-Country Skiing    15 km.           Norway                         M

1928     X-Country Skiing    50 km.           Sweden                         M

1928     Nordic Combined   Individual   Norway                         M

1932     Nordic Combined   Individual   Norway                         M

1932     Ski Jumping                Large hill     Norway                         M

1936     X-Country Skiing    50 km.           Sweden                         M

1936     Nordic Combined   Individual   Norway                         M

1948     X-Country Skiing    15 km.           Sweden                         M

1948     Ski Jumping                Large hill     Norway                         M

1956     Alpine Skiing              GS                  Austria                           M

1956     Figure Skating          Singles         United States             M

1964     Speed Skating           5,000 m      Norway                          M

1972     Luge                                Singles        German Dem. Rep.  M

1972     Ski Jumping                NH               Japan                                M

1992     X-Country Skiing    30 km.        Norway                           M

1992     Speed Skating           5,000 m    Germany                         M

1994     Alpine Skiing             Combined Norway                          M

1998     Speed Skating           10,000 m  Netherlands                M

1998     Speed Skating           3,000 m     Germany                        M

2002     Snowboarding           Halfpipe   United States              M

2006     Alpine Skiing               Slalom       Austria                            M

A couple things are immediately obvious – first of all, Germany or the former German Democratic Republic, is/was really good at sweeping Winter Olympic medals. Germany has had 7 medal sweeps, 5 by women and 2 by the men. The former GDR swept the medals 5 times, 4 by the women, all in luge. Either Germany or the GDR has swept the medals in women’s luge 7 times in all (out of only 13 times the event has been held).

In fact, German dominance of women’s luge approaches that of the Chinese in Summer Olympic diving, or the United States former dominance in that sport. German women have swept the medals in singles luge at the last three Winter Olympics (2002-10). Can they do it again for a four-peat in Sochi?

That’s pretty good, but Norway is the national leader in medal sweeps, with 11 at the Winter Olympics, all by their men in five different sports / disciplines. Here is the national breakdown:

NOC                                       Men    Women    Totals

Austria                                            2             1            3

Finland                                            0             1            1

German Demo. Rep.                1             4            5

Germany                                        2             5            7

Japan                                                1             0            1

Netherlands                                 1             0            1

Norway                                        11             0          11

Soviet Union                                0             4            4

Sweden                                          4              0            4

United States                              2             0            2

Totals                                           24           15         39

Another thing to note is that the United States does not show up much on this list – only 2 medal sweeps by American men – one in 1956 men’s figure skating and one in 2002 snowboarding halfpipe. By contrast, of the 260 Summer Olympic medal sweeps, fully 150 of them were done by the United States, many of them in the early days of the Modern Olympic Games.

One of the most dramatic medal sweeps occurred in 1972 at Sapporo, when the Japanese ski jumpers, who had never won an Olympic medal in that sport / discipline previously, swept the medals in ski jumping on the normal hill, led by Yukio Kasaya.

Only 4 times have the home nations swept the medals. In addition to Japan in 1972 in ski jumping, this was also done in 1964 by the Austrian women in downhill alpine skiing at Innsbruck, the Norwegian men alpine skiiers in the 1994 combined at Lillehammer, and the aforementioned American sweep of men’s snowboarding halfpipe at Salt Lake City in 2002. Russia has never done this at the Winter Olympics, although it was done 4 times by the former Soviet Union, all in women’s events. Can the Russians sweep any of the medals in Sochi?

What’s Coming Up Prior to Sochi

OK, with our three posts this morning on curling, Nordic combined, and speedskating, we have completed publishing the sports factsheets for Sochi. So what’s next?

Over the next few days there will be several posts on different historical and statistical facts about the various Winter Olympics sports. Then next weekend, when the Sochi entries finalize (19 January), we will start publishing national factsheets for all the competing nations, and previous Winter Olympic competing nations. Those will come out over a week or so.

After that will come a series of USA-centric sports factsheets, for the US media (I’ll be working for the USOC media in Sochi). Finally we will publish the grande dame, the General Factsheets, with overall Winter Olympic Information and records, to come shortly before the Opening Ceremony.

Speedskating Factsheets

Olympic History:          Speed skating emerged on the canals of Holland as early as the 13th century, and organized competition was held in The Netherlands as early as 1676.  The Dutch spread the idea of speed skating to their neighbors, Germany, France, and Austria, in the early 19th century.  The Frieslanders of North Holland crossed the Channel and introduced the sport to England, in an area from Cambridge to the Wash known as the Fens, where competition has been held since 1814.  As a result, speed skating in England was originally known as fens skating.

The first recorded competition in speed skating took place in Norway in 1863.  The first world championships were contested in 1889, although the ISU held its first championships in 1893, one year after their formation.  The first known speed skating competition for women took place in 1905 on a straight course in Leeuwarden, the Netherlands.  The sport also spread to North America in the mid-1800s.  The first great American racer was Tim Donoghue, who competed from 1863-1875.  His son, Joseph Donoghue, won the 2nd and 3rd unofficial world championships in 1890 and 1891.

Speed skating was contested at the 1924 Olympic Winter Games and has been on the Olympic Winter program since.  Women first competed at the Olympics in 1932 when it was a demonstration sport.  Women’s speed skating as a full medal sport began in 1960.  The program consists of five individual events for men and women.  The men race over 500 metres, 1,000 metres, 1,500 metres, 5,000 metres, and 10,000 metres, while women race over 500 metres, 1,000 metres, 1,500 metres, 3,000 metres, and 5,000 metres.  At Torino in 2006, a team pursuit was added for both men and women.  Similar to the team pursuit in cycling, three skaters raced together, and could win either by overtaking the other team, or simply by finishing first in the heat.  Men raced over 8 laps (a bit less than 3,200 metres) and women over 6 laps (a bit less than 2,400 metres).

Olympic speed skating has almost always been contested in the European system of skating time trials in two-man pairs.  In 1932 at Lake Placid, the Americans convinced the ISU to hold the events in the North American style of pack racing.  Many Europeans boycotted the events as a result and the Americans won all four gold medals.  This style of the sport, however, was later to develop into short-track speed skating, which was admitted to the Olympic program in 1992.

Speed 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).

Nordic Combined Factsheets

Olympic History:          Nordic combined consists of a cross-country ski race and ski jumping. It was considered the most important Nordic skiing event by the Scandinavians, and has been held at the Olympic Winter Games since the start in 1924. Nordic combined is actually considered, for Olympic purposes, as a discipline of skiing, or more precisely of Nordic skiing. World Championships have been conducted in Nordic combined since 1925 and it has been part of the Holmenkollen Ski Festival since 1892.

Even including 2014, Nordic combined remains the only discipline at the Olympic Winter Games in which women do not compete. Women simply do not compete in this discipline at the international level. There are no official World Championships or World Cups for women and it is not held at Holmenkollen for women. However, some recent articles have described training camps for women in Nordic combined, notably in Russia.

As of 2010, the number of events has grown to three, all for men only, with two individual events and a team event. The two individual Nordic combined events were changed for the 2010 Winter Olympics. From 1924-84, only one Nordic combined event was contested at the Winter Olympics, an individual event over 15 km (or 18 km in the early years), and ski jumping from the normal hill, usually allowing two, sometimes three, jumps. In 1988 the team event was added, which originally had three competitors per team, racing a relay of 3 x 10 km, but in 1998 was changed to four competitors per team, with a relay of 4 x 5 km. In 2002 and 2006 a second individual event was contested, termed the sprint event, which consisted of a 7.5 km cross-country race and a single jump from the large hill.

In 2010 the two individual events were changed to a similar format of a 10 km ski race and a single jump, either from the normal hill or large hill. In each cross-country race, the ski jumping leader starts first, with the other competitors starting behind him using the Gunderson method, with the delay between skiiers determined by the difference in ski jumping points.

As with all skiing disciplines and events, Nordic combined is governed by the Fédération Internationale de Ski (FIS). 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. 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 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. Only Kosovo is not an IOC Member nation.

Curling Factsheets

Olympic History:          Curling is a sport played on ice in which players deliver a large stone towards a bulls-eye-type target.  The game is played by two teams of four players each.  One player delivers the stone by hand, while the other three players run in front of it, sweeping the ice to clear it and allow it a clear path to the target.  The ice on which the game is played is called a rink, and the same name is used for the teams.  Teams score points if their stones are closer to the center of the target, called the tee, than the opposing team’s stones.  The game is basically shuffleboard on ice.  The stones weigh approximately 42 lbs. (19 kg.) and are made of granite, with the best ones harvested from a granite formation on Ailsa Craig, a small uninhabited island off the west coast of Scotland, owned by the 8th Marquess of Ailsa (the island is now for sale for $2.4 million [US]).

Curling was developed in Scotland as early as the 16th century, although some evidence exists that it developed in the Low Countries of Europe at about the same time.  The first known curling club was the Royal Caledonian Curling Club, formed in 1843 and originally called the Grand Caledonian Curling Club.  During the 19th century, curling spread to many nations of Europe, as well as the United States, New Zealand, and especially, Canada.  In Canada, curling became very popular in the prairie provinces of Manitoba, Saskatchewan, and Alberta.

Curling was a demonstration sport at the 1932, 1988, and 1992 Olympic Winter Games.  Until recently, it was also considered to have been demonstrated at the 1924 Olympic Winter Games in Chamonix, but more recent evidence makes it apparent that the sport was on the full Olympic program and we give that 1924 sport full Olympic status below.  In 1936 and 1964, German curling (Eisschießen) was also a demonstration sport at the Olympic Winter Games. Curling returned to the Olympic Winter program in 1998 at Nagano, with a tournament for both men and women. World Championships have been contested for men since 1959 and for women since 1979.

The International Curling Federation (ICF) was created after a meeting in March 1965, organized by the Royal Caledonian Curling Club.  Six nations attended the meeting in Perth, Scotland; Canada, Norway, Scotland, Sweden, Switzerland, and the United States.  The ICF was formed the next year with seven founding nations, with France added to the above six.  The name of the organization was changed to the World Curling Federation in 1991.

The WCF has 53 nations affiliated with it as of November 2013.  This makes it the smallest IF of any IOC-recognized sport, winter or summer.  The nations currently affiliated with the WCF are as follows:  Andorra, Armenia, Australia, Austria, Belarus, Belgium, Brazil, Bulgaria, Canada, China, Chinese Taipei, Croatia, Czech Republic, Denmark, England, Estonia, Finland, France, Georgia, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Ireland, Israel, Italy, Japan, Kazakhstan, Korea, Kosovo, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Mongolia, Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Poland, Romania, Russia, Scotland, Serbia, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Turkey, Ukraine, United States, US Virgin Islands, and Wales. All are IOC Members except for Kosovo, and the British countries of England, Scotland and Wales have separate national memberships.

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.

Sochi 2014 – Winter Sports Factsheets

Over the next week or so, we will be providing factsheets on the 15 Winter Olympic Sports / Disciplines. These will include all the data you’ll ever need to know concerning what has happened at the Winter Olympics previously in these sports. We’ll start with a short background on the sport, followed by multiple statistical files that will be attached as a PDF file for your use – they need to be in PDF files because of their complexity in terms of statistical tables and such.

After we finish with the Winter Olympic Sports / Disciplines, we’ll then provide a series of similar factsheets for the Nations that will be competing at Sochi, or that have competed before at the Winter Olympics.

Finally, our final factsheets in the run-up to Sochi will be a General Overview of the Olympic Winter Games. Hope you enjoy. Let us know if there is something else you want to see that we’ve missed. – Bill Mallon

Summer / Winter Olympic Sports Doubles

Simply making an Olympic team is often considered among the ultimate athletic accomplishments. It signifies that you have reached the highest level of competition in your sport. But in some cases athletes have competed at both the Summer and Winter Olympics, which has to be an even rarer feat. How common is it?

Actually, it has happened 128 times. And it has been done in a dizzying array of 47 different sport combinations. By far the most common both season Olympians are in athletics (track & field) and bobsledding, with 40 Olympians competing in this combination.

The first to do that was the Belgian Max Houben,  who competed in athletics in 1920 and bobsledding in 1928-48. He was followed by Austrian Johann Baptist Gudenus, a 1932-36 bobsledder and Olympian in athletics in 1936. There was then a large gap before this occurred again, with Britain Colin Campbell (1968/72 ATH, 1976 BOB), and Swiss Edy Hubacher (1968 ATH, 1972 BOB).

In 1980 at Lake Placid Willie Davenport competed in bobsledding for the United States. A four-time Olympian (1964-76), and gold medalist in the high hurdles in 1968, Davenport was recruited to bobsledding for his leg strength and drive, to help with the push starts. It began a trend of top track & field athletes competing in bobsled. The best known was likely East German 1988 decathlon silver medalist Torsten Voss, who pushed a bob at Nagano in 1998 for Germany.

From the United States, another famous athlete who competed in Olympic bobsledding (1992) was NFL running back Herschel Walker. Walker was a top track & field in high school but never competed in the Summer Olympics.

Multiple athletics stars have been recruited since, with the United States possibly including Lolo Jones and Lauryn Williams on their women’s bobsled squads for Sochi.

Prior to this trend of athletics/bobsledding doubles, the most common both season sport double was cycling and speedskating, and it is still the second most common with 16 athletes having accomplished it. This combination occurred because the muscles and the training for both sports is similar, and athletes would often use the “other” sport for off-season training.

Two cyclists / speedskaters have won Olympic medals in both sports – Canadian Clara Hughes and German Christa Rothenburger-Luding. No athlete / bobsledder has yet pulled off the Winter / Summer medal double. This has been done by other athletes – notably Eddie Eagan, an American who won a gold medal in 1920 boxing and 1932 bobsledding, the only Olympian to have won gold medals at both the Winter and Summer Olympics. Norwegian Jacob Tullin Thams won Olympic medals in both ski jumping and sailing – there’s a combination for you.

It was even rarer for athletes to compete in the Summer and Winter Olympics in the same year, although that can no longer occur. This was done 41 times. Most notable was the accomplishment of Japanese female cyclist / speedskater Seiko Hashimoto who competed at the Winter and Summer Olympics in 1988 and 1992. The only other Olympian to have done this twice was the Swiss Charles Stoffel, who, in the days of more gentlemanly bobsled competition, competed in equestrian and bobsledding in 1924 and 1928.

Here are the sport doubles for both season Olympians, in order of frequency:

Summer                               Winter                                                                         ###

Athletics                              Bobsledding                                                                40

Cycling                                 Speedskating                                                              16

Cycling                                 Cross-Country Skiing                                               9

Hockey                                 Ice Hockey                                                                      7

Athletics                             Cross-Country Skiing                                               4

Football                               Ice Hockey                                                                      4

Athletics                             Cross-Country Skiing / Nordic Combined   3

Cycling                                 Short-Track Speedskating                                     2

Equestrian Events         Bobsledding                                                                   2

Hockey                                 Bobsledding                                                                   2

Rowing                                 Bobsledding                                                                   2

Sailing                                   Ice Hockey                                                                      2

Athletics                             Biathlon                                                                            1

Athletics                             Figure Skating                                                               1

Athletics                             Ice Hockey                                                                      1

Boxing                                 Bobsledding                                                                    1

Canoeing                           Cross-Country Skiing                                                1

Canoeing                           Luge                                                                                     1

Cycling                                Biathlon / Cross-Country Skiing                        1

Cycling                               Bobsledding                                                                     1

Fencing                              Bobsledding                                                                     1

Fencing                              Ice Hockey                                                                        1

Football                             Bobsledding                                                                     1

Handball                           Alpine Skiing / Cross-Country Skiing                1

Judo                                    Bobsledding                                                                      1

Modern Pentathlon   Cross-Country Skiing                                                 1

Modern Pentathlon   Military Ski Patrol                                                        1

Modern Pentathlon   Nordic Combined                                                         1

Modern Pentathlon   Speedskating                                                                   1

Rowing                               Cross-Country Skiing                                                1

Rowing                               Ice Hockey                                                                        1

Rowing                               Ice Hockey / Speedskating                                      1

Rowing                               Luge                                                                                      1

Rowing                               Military Ski Patrol                                                        1

Rowing                               Speedskating                                                                   1

Sailing                                 Alpine Skiing                                                                    1

Sailing                                 Bobsledding                                                                     1

Sailing                                 Ski Jumping                                                                       1

Shooting                            Biathlon                                                                              1

Shooting                            Figure Skating                                                                 1

Softball                               Ice Hockey                                                                       1

Swimming                         Bobsledding                                                                    1

Swimming                         Figure Skating                                                                1

Swimming                         Ski Jumping                                                                      1

Water Polo                       Bobsledding                                                                     1

Weightlifting                  Bobsledding                                                                      1

Wrestling                          Bobsledding                                                                     1

Totals                                                                                                                               128

How many will add to this list in Sochi? Certainly there will be a few athlete / bobsledders. Anybody else?

 

(Note: the author has a personal connection here – see the photos below of the cyclist / speedskater (guy on the left in the cycling picture). That guy went to the US Olympic Trials in cycling and speedskating in 1948, but did not make either Olympic team. That guy, however, was an Olympian of a Dad. And that folks, for your information, is how I first became interested in the Olympic Games.)

Dad Skating

Dad Cycling

(Note: tomorrow we will start providing factsheets for the 15 Winter Olympic sports to be held in Sochi. Stay tuned.)

Death at the Olympics

At Vancouver in 2010, Georgian luger Nodar Kumaritashvili went off the course during a training run on the morning of the Opening Ceremony, crashing into a stanchion next to the track, and was killed instantly. This cast a pall over the Opening Ceremony, where a moment of silence was held in his memory, and the Vancouver Games in general, and was later termed by former IOC President Jacques Rogge as the worst moment of his Presidency.

This was not the first time athletes have died at the Olympics, nor was it the first time a luger died in training runs at the Olympics. The best known instance of death at the Olympics, of course, occurred at the 1972 München Summer Olympics when Arab terrorists from the Black September faction invaded the Israeli section of the Olympic Village at 31 Connollystraße and kidnapped and killed 11 Israeli athletes and coaches, with five Israeli Olympic athletes dying either from a shoot-out or bombs at the Fürstenfeldbruck air base. The athletes killed were David Berger (WLT), Ze’ev Friedman (WLT), Eliezer Halfin (WRE), and Yossef Romano (WLT), and Mark Slavin, a wrestler who was scheduled to compete on the day of the attacks. The coaches and administrators killed were Yossef Gutfreund, Amitzur Shapira, Kehat Shorr, Andrei Spitzer, Yacov Springer, and Moshe Weinberg.

Other athletes have died during training at the Olympic site. In 1964 at Innsbruck, two athletes died during training events just prior to the start of the Winter Olympics. In a macabre coincidence, one was another luger who crashed off the course, Polish-born British luger Kazimierz Kay-Skrzypecki, while the other was Australian downhill skiier Ross Milne. The IOC had the Olympic Flag flown at half-mast throughout the Games, with two black ribbons attached to its bottom edge.

Only two Olympians have died during, or as the result of, actual Olympic competition in medal events. The first was Portuguese marathoner Francisco Lázaro who collapsed during the 1912 marathon race, and died early the next morning. The second was Danish cyclist Knut Enemark Jensen, who collapsed during the 1960 cycling team time trial and died shortly thereafter. It was a very hot day in Rome when Enemark Jensen collapsed. His death has been variously attributed to heatstroke, to a closed head injury from striking his head when he fell (he did not wear a helmet, as was standard in that era), or from the effects of drugs, as he was rumored to have had Ronicol, an amphetamine-like stimulant, in his blood at the time of his death. (Note: Multiple different versions of the cause of death and the status of his drug-related blood tests can be found.) Jensen’s death, and the later death of British cyclist Tom Simpson during an ascent of Mont Ventoux during the 1967 Tour de France, after which he was found to have had multiple drugs in his body, were the stimuli that prompted the IOC to begin testing for drugs at the 1968 Olympics. Another Olympic athlete died during a demonstration event at the 1936 Berlin Olympics when Austrian Ignaz Stiefsohn crashed during the gliding exhibition, and was killed instantly.

Preparing the courses can be dangerous as well at the Winter Olympics. In 1992 at Albertville speed skiing was a demonstration sport. Swiss speed skiier Nicolas Bochatay was warming up before the qualifying with his teammate Pierre-Yves Jorand. They came up over a blind mogul, but when landing on the other side, Bochatay crashed into the track of a Sno-Cat preparing the course and was killed from internal injuries he suffered. Jorand was uninjured but withdrew from the competition.

At Calgary in 1988 a similar incident occurred before the start of the second run of men’s giant slalom. The 47-year-old Austrian team physician and orthopaedic surgeon Jörg Oberhammer, who was skiing at the base of the hill, collided with another skier, 55-year-old Brian Nock, a technician for Canadian television. Oberhammer was knocked down into the tracks of a snow-grooming machine and was crushed, killing him instantly. Two Swiss skiers, Pirmin Zurbriggen and Martin Hangl, witnessed the event and were badly shaken. Zurbriggen managed to start the second run and would win a bronze medal, but Hangl collapsed at the top of the hill and had to withdraw.

There have been other Olympics-related deaths, more due to acts of God or accidents and not related to training, course preparation, or competition. In 1936 at Berlin, Romanian boxer Nicolae Berechet lost his first round match in the featherweight class on 11 August. In that pre-antibiotic era, three days later he was dead of sepsis from an infection due to a carbuncle. At the 1956 Melbourne Olympics, Italian rower Arrigo Menicocci competed and then a few days later went for a car ride, but was killed in a crash before the Olympics had ended. One other athlete who died during the Olympics, but without ever competing, was Czechoslovakian female gymnast Eliska Mišaková. While training in London before the 1948 Olympics Mišaková contracted poliomyelitis and died on the day the gymnastics competition started. Her sister, Miroslava, was also on the Czechoslovak team and helped them win a gold medal.

Finally, shortly after midnite on 27 July 1996 at the Atlanta Olympics, a bomb went off in Centennial Olympic Park, a gathering place for the world’s spectators and many of the athletes. One spectator, Alice Hawthorne, was killed by the bomb and 111 others were wounded. One Turkish cameraman, Melih Uzunyol, ran to the scene to photograph it, and died of a heart attack he sustained in that effort. The bombing was initially attributed to Centennial Olympic Park employee Richard Jewell, who was wrongly accused, but was later found to have been set by Eric Rudolph, a religious extremist who seemed to be anti-almost everything except life. He was found to have set other bombs as well, was convicted, and in a plea bargain, sentenced to four consecutive life sentences without parole.

So the Olympic Games usually celebrate athletes and humanity at its finest. But they have also been the scene of great tragedy. All honor to their names.

And now, a moment a silence for those who died and have not always been given that memory.

(Note: the above was written prior to the recent terrorist attacks in Volgograd. We sincerely hope and pray that no amendments will be necessary by the end of the Sochi Olympic Games.)