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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.


British Virgin Islands


Cayman Islands















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:


American Samoa



British Virgin Islands


Cayman Islands

Costa Rica











Netherlands Antilles


Philippines, The

San Marino





Trinidad & Tobago


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.

Siblings – Same Olympics, Same Sport, Different Nations

Lyndon Sheehan and his sister, Amy Sheehan, will both compete at Sochi in freestyle halfpipe, but not for the same nation. Lyndon will represent New Zealand, while Amy skis for Australia. Apparently Olympic News Service (ONS) just announced that this is not rare, and  happened twice before at the 2010 Winter Olympics, with brothers Jan (NOR) and Tommy Schmid (SUI) in the nordic combined, and siblings Anastasia Kuzmina (SVK) and her brother, Anton Shipulin (RUS), in the biathlon. ONS missed another one from Vancouver, as the Reed Siblings, Allison (GEO), Cathy (JPN) and Chris (JPN) all participated in figure skating.

But it actually first happened back in 1960 at Squaw Valley. There František Tikal played ice hockey for Czechoslovakia, while his brother, Steve Tikal, played for Australia, and they played against each other.

Here are the siblings who have competed at the same Winter Olympics, in the same sport, but for different nations:

1960: František (TCH) / Steve (AUS) Tikal in ice hockey

1998: Hans (AUT) / Bernard (SLO) Knauß in alpine skiing

2002: Robert (CZE) / Martin (GER) Reichel in ice hockey

2010: Jan (NOR) / Tommy (SUI) Schmid in nordic combined

2010: Allison (GEO) / Cathy and Chris (JPN) Reed in figure skating

2010: Anastasia Kuzmina (SVK) / Anton Shipulin (RUS) in biathlon

But it has also happened a number of times at the Summer Olympics, as follows:

1964/1968: Fred (NED) / Tony (USA) van Dorp in water polo

1984: Carmen Ionescu (CAN) / Florenta Tacu (ROU) in athletics

1992: Katerina, Maggy (BUL) / Manuela Maleeva (SUI) in tennis

1996: Gusman (MDA) / Elmadi (KAZ) Zhabrailov in wrestling

2000: Jenny (ITA) / Jessica (NED) Gal in judo

2008: Ágnes (HUN) / Erszébet (ITA) Valkai in water polo

2008: Hilda (NED) / Sylvia (KEN) Kibet in athletics

2008: Matty (USA) / Shane (NZL) Reed in triathlon

2008: Natasa (HUN) / Stjepan (CRO) Janic in canoeing

2008/2012: Soslan (UZB) / Taymuraz (KAZ) Tigiyev in wrestling

2012: Mimi (BRN) / Almensh (BEL) Belete in athletics

In addition to the Tikals competing directly against each other, this also happened with the Van Dorps in water polo in 1964; the Reichels in ice hockey in 2002, and the Valkais in water polo in 2008. In addition, the Zhabrailovs actually had a wrestling match against each other.

UPDATE (9 July 2016): As the 2016 Olympics are dawning, the brother / sister tandem of Bernard Legat  and Violah Cheptoo Legat will also compete for different nations in Rio. Violah has made the Kenyan team in the women’s 1,500  metres. Bernard made his fifth Olympic team at the US Olympic Trials in the 5,000 metres. He competed for Kenya in 2000 and 2004 and for the United States in 2008 and 2012, and to come, in 2016..

Winter NOC Doublers

An Hyeon-Su (sometimes seen as Ahn Hyun-Soo) is one of the most successful short-track speed skaters ever, having won 5 World Championships from 2003-07, and winning 4 medals, including 3 golds, at the 2006 Olympics in Torino. He will compete at Sochi in 2014, but if you try to find him under that name, good luck.

He is now Viktor Ahn, and competes for Russia, and will be on the Russian team in Sochi, having started competing there in 2011, and recently achieving Russian citizenship.

At Sochi, Chris Spring will compete in bobsledding for Canada, after appearing for Australia at Vancouver. Anthony Lobello is on the 2014 Italian short-track speed skating team but in 2006 he competed in that sport for the United States. Vic Wild, an American snowboarder who married Russian snowboarder Alena Zavarzina, will compete for Russia in Sochi, having obtained Russian citizenship in 2011. And Petr Nedvěd will skate in ice hockey for the land of his birth, the Czech Republic, 20 years after skating for Canada at the 1994 Lillehammer Games.

These are but a few of many examples of the athletic diaspora that has taken place over the last 20 years or so, especially since the break-up of the Soviet Union. Athletes often compete for nations other than the one in which they have lived and grown up. Ofttimes, it is a nation in which they were born, but did not live there long.

Another example this year is the case of Gary di Silvestri and his wife Angelica Morrone di Silvestri, who will compete in cross-country skiing for Dominica. Part of the group often called Olympic tourists, who have no chance for a medal, the di Silvestris became acquainted with Dominica while vacationing there, and when they decided they wished to make an attempt to compete at the Winter Olympics, what better nation to choose than that bastion of winter sports than Dominica?

In 1994 at Lillehammer, Armenia competed for the first time at the Winter Olympics, with a 2-man bobsled team of Joe Almasian and Ken Topalian. Both were from Massachusetts in the United States, and had never set foot in Armenia, but they were of Armenian descent and after learning bobsled, however badly, they were allowed to compete for Armenia at Lillehammer. Both sledders have yet to visit the nation they represented at the Winter Olympics.

In all, 1,496 athletes have represented 2 or more NOCs at the Olympic Games and Olympic Winter Games, with 280 of these coming at the Winter Olympics. Most of these have been due to the split-up of the Soviet Union, Yugoslavia, Czechoslovakia, and the re-unification of Germany.

In fact at the Winter Olympics, only 27 times have athletes represented what we term DDNs (distinctly different nations), and only once has this has occurred more than one time for any set of DDNs. This was the case of the Tlałka-Mogore twin sisters, Dorota and Małgorzata, who both competed in Alpine skiing in 1984-88 for Poland (1984) and France (1988).

The other combinations of related nations are obvious – 50 athletes competed for both the Unified Team and Russia, and 43 for both Czechoslovakia and the Czech Republic, and for Germany and the former West Germany (FRG).

Among DDNs, Canada has had 5 different athletes compete for it and another nation (5 different nations), while Switzerland and Austria have had this occur 4 times each. At Sochi, Viktor Ahn will become the first Korea / Russia mix.

Below we list all the Winter Olympic occurrences of athletes competing for 2 or more NOCs.


NOCMix                                                                                                     ###

Unified Team / Russia                                                                           50

Czech Republic / Czechoslovakia                                                 43

Fed. Rep. Germany / Germany                                                        43

German Demo. Rep. / Germany                                                     28

Unified Team / Soviet Union                                                            13

Slovakia / Czechoslovakia                                                                   9

Unified Team / Russia / Soviet Union                                            8

Bosnia & Herzegovina / Yugoslavia                                               8

Russia / Soviet Union                                                                             6

Unified Team / Kazakhstan                                                                5

Slovenia / Yugoslavia                                                                             5

Unified Team / Ukraine                                                                        4

Belarus / Russia                                                                                        3

Latvia / Soviet Union                                                                             3

Serbia & Montenegro / Serbia                                                         3

Belarus / Unified Team / Soviet Union                                        2

Belarus / Unified Team                                                                         2

Belarus / Ukraine                                                                                     2

France / Poland                                                                                         2

Austria / Unified Team / Russia                                                       1

Belarus / Russia / Soviet Union                                                       1

Unified Team / Kazakhstan / Russia                                            1

Unified Team / Kazakhstan / Soviet Union                             1

Unified Team / Ukraine / Soviet Union                                      1

Armenia / Belarus                                                                                  1

Australia / Russia                                                                                   1

Austria / Bulgaria                                                                                   1

Austria / Germany                                                                                 1

Austria / Hungary                                                                                  1

Azerbaijan / Unified Team                                                                1

Azerbaijan / Russia                                                                                1

Belgium / Netherlands, The                                                              1

Belarus / Kazakhstan                                                                           1

Canada / Czech Republic                                                                   1

Canada / Finland                                                                                     1

Canada / Jamaica                                                                                    1

Canada / Russia                                                                                       1

Canada / United States                                                                       1

Croatia / Yugoslavia                                                                              1

Spain / Germany                                                                                      1

Estonia / Great Britain                                                                         1

Estonia / Soviet Union                                                                          1

Unified Team / Uzbekistan                                                                1

France / Hungary                                                                                    1

France / Korea (South)                                                                        1

France / Netherlands, The                                                                1

German Democratic Republic / Switzerland                         1

Germany / Ukraine                                                                                1

Hungary / Romania                                                                              1

Italy / Russia                                                                                             1

Japan / United States                                                                         1

Kazakhstan / Kyrgyzstan                                                                 1

Latvia / Russia                                                                                         1

Lithuania / Soviet Union                                                                   1

Moldova / Romania                                                                              1

Moldova / Switzerland                                                                      1

Norway / Switzerland                                                                        1

Russia / Switzerland                                                                           1

Serbia & Montenegro / Yugoslavia                                            1

Sweden / United States                                                                    1

Totals                                                                                                     280

Winter Sports Doublers

We’ll look now at how often athletes have competed in 2 or more sports at the Winter Olympics.

We talked earlier on this blog about the distinction betweens sports and disciplines at the Winter Olympics. Basically the IOC only recognizes 7 Winter Olympic sports – biathlon, bobsledding, curling, ice hockey, luge, skating, and skiing. The separate “sports” that most people consider as such – cross-country skiing, figure skating, speed skating, ski jumping, etc. – are only disciplines to the IOC with the IOC recognizing 6 disciplines of skiing (Alpine, cross-country, freestyle, Nordic combined, ski jumping, snowboarding), 3 disciplines of skating (figure, speed, short-track), and 2 disciplines of bobsledding (bobsledding and skeleton).

So this makes comparison difficult. But we will use the commonly considered definition that there are 15 sports at the Winter Olympics, calling all IOC-defined disciplines as separate sports.

Using the 15-sport definition, there have been 326 examples of athletes in 2 or more sports at the Winter Olympics. This has occurred 640 times at the Summer Olympics.

Three athletes have competed in 4 sports at the Winter Olympics, although this stretches the terminology, since all were disciplines of skiing. All 3 athletes competed in Alpine skiing, cross-country skiing, Nordic combined, and ski jumping, as follows:

Karl Johan Baadsvik (CAN)   ASK/CCS/NCO/SKJ   1936

Bronisław Czech (POL)           ASK/CCS/NCO/SKJ   1928/1932/1936

Bill Irwin (CAN)                           ASK/CCS/NCO/SKJ   1948

Winter Olympians have competed in 3 sports 40 times, with almost all of these comprising 3 disciplines within skiing. However, the two truly unusual ones were Belgian Louis de Ridder, who competed in ice hockey and speed skating in 1924 and in bobsledding and ice hockey in 1936; perhaps less unusual, but no less remarkable, is the example of Korean Gang Gwang-Bae, who is the only athlete to have competed in all 3 of the sliding sports – bobsled, luge, and skeleton. Gang competed in luge in 1998, skeleton in 2002-06, and bobsled in 2010.

Doubling in two sports at the Winter Olympics is less common among women, as one might expect, as they have had less sports to choose from. Women have competed in 2 winter sports 35 times, with 26 of those the combination of biathlon and cross-country skiing. Canadian Linda Crutchfield-Bocock has the most unusual combination, competing in Alpine skiing in 1964 and luge in1968. No woman has competed in 3 Winter Olympic sports.

There have been 11 cases in which Winter Olympic athletes have competed in distinctly different sports. Here is the list:

Léon Quaglia (FRA)                              ICH-1920/24/28, SSK-1924/28

Georges André (FRA)                         BOB-1924, CUR-1924

Louis De Ridder (BEL)                         ICH-1924/36, SSK-24, BOB-1936

Paul Van den Broek (BEL)                 BOB-1924, ICH-1924

Victor Verschueren (BEL)                  BOB-1924, ICH-1924

Albert Hassler (FRA)                             ICH-1924/28/36, SSK-1924

Raoul Weckbecker (LUX)                   BOB-1928/36, ASK-1936

Justo del Carril (ARG)                           ASK-1948, BOB-1948

Stuart Parkinson (GBR)                        ASK-1948, BOB-1956

Linda Crutchfield-Bocock (CAN)    ASK-1964, LUG-1968

Jeremy Palmer-Tomkinson (GBR)  ASK-1968, LUG-1972/76/80

The entire breakdown of the various Winter Olympic sports combinations is as follows:

Sports                                                                                                                               ###

Cross-Country Skiing / Nordic Combined                                                    86

Biathlon / Cross-Country Skiing                                                                         78

Nordic Combined / Ski Jumping                                                                          55

Cross-Country Skiing / Nordic Combined / Ski Jumping                     31

Bobsledding / Luge                                                                                                      11

Alpine Skiing / Cross-Country Skiing                                                                 9

Alpine Skiing / Freestyle Skiing                                                                              8

Speedskating / Short-Track Speedskating                                                        6

Alpine Skiing / Cross-Country Skiing / Nordic Combined                      5

Bobsledding / Skeleton                                                                                                5

Cross-Country Skiing / Military Ski Patrol                                                       5

Alpine Skiing / Ski Jumping                                                                                        4

Alpine Skiing / Bobsledding                                                                                       3

Alpine Skiing / X-Country Skiing / Nordic Comb. / Ski Jumping          3

Alpine Skiing / Nordic Combined                                                                           3

Alpine Skiing / Luge                                                                                                        2

Bobsledding / Ice Hockey                                                                                           2

Ice Hockey / Speedskating                                                                                         2

Luge / Skeleton                                                                                                                 2

Bobsledding / Curling                                                                                                   1

Bobsledding / Ice Hockey / Speedskating                                                         1

Bobsledding / Luge / Skeleton                                                                                 1

X-Country Skiing / Military Ski Patrol / Nordic Combined                     1

Cross-Country Skiing / Ski Jumping                                                                     1

Military Ski Patrol / Nordic Combined / Ski Jumping                                 1

Totals                                                                                                                                 326

And here are the numbers for women only:

Sports                                                                                                                           ###

Biathlon / Cross-Country Skiing                                                                      26

Alpine Skiing / Freestyle Skiing                                                                           4

Bobsledding / Luge                                                                                                     3

Alpine Skiing / Luge                                                                                                   1

Speedskating / Short-Track Speedskating                                                    1

Totals                                                                                                                                35

We know of 3 scheduled new sports doublers in Sochi. Serbian Milanko Petrović is entered in biathlon and cross-country skiing, as is Tanja Karišik of Bosnia & Herzegovina, and Dutch female skater Jorien ter Mors is entered in both speed skating and short-track speed skating. There are at least 10 examples of athletes entered in Sochi who will be competing in a second Winter Olympic sport.


General Factsheets – Previous NOC Medal Standings and Records

Here are the medal standings by NOC at previous Olympics, along with various notes and records about most medals by day, and most medals or gold medals by Games, by NOCs. At the end, you’ll find the medal standings day-by-day for the previous 4 Winter Olympics, so you can follow in Sochi and compare to how your nation was doing at previous recent Olympics.

General Factsheets – All Sorts of Stuff

Here is the second of our general factsheets with historical / statistical information leading up to Sochi. All sorts of things on here – data about Olympic Programs, which nations have competed and with how many competitors, all-time medal standings by nations, and the usual Opening Ceremony information about torchbearers, oath takers, dignitary information. And a bit more too.

General Factsheets – The Leaders, The Most, The Best

Here are the first of our 3 general factsheets on the Olympic Winter Games. This one gives multiple lists of Olympic records in every category you can imagine – most medals, most gold medals, most silvers, individual, overall, age records, appearance records, most events. Ask about it and it will be in here. More to come in the next 2 days on the Olympic Winter Games in general.

Winter Olympic Nations – Probably Not Gonna Compete

We’re in a little bit of a holding pattern while we await the IFs to publish the final lists of NOCs who have accepted their quota spots in the various 2014 sports. That should be out on Monday, the 27th. Final entries should be coming in starting that day as well.

In the interim, we’re fairly certain that the NOCs in the attached PDFs will not be competing, although all of them have competed previously at the Winter Olympics. That is because they no longer exist as nations – Czechoslovakia, Fed. Rep. of Germany (West), German Democratic Republic (East), Netherlands Antilles, Serbia & Montenegro, Soviet Union, Unified Team, and Yugoslavia. These are for historical interest only.

Previous Winter Olympic Nations – Not Competing in Sochi

The attached factsheets will give information about nations that have previously competed at the Olympic Winter Games. A few have actually qualified (Algeria, Puerto Rico, South Africa) but their NOCs have elected to not send any athletes to Sochi. There appear to be 22 nations that have previously competed at the Winter Olympics but will not be in Sochi.

We will send out the factsheets for the Sochi competing nations on Monday, after acceptances of quota spots is finalized. Tomorrow, just for historical interest, we’ll give information about those previous Winter Olympic Nations that no longer exist (Soviet Union, Czechoslovakia, Yugoslavia, Netherlands Antilles, East & West Germany)