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Olympians with a disability – Part Two

Part two in a series on people who have competed at the Olympic Games despite suffering from a physical disability.

1952-56
Lis Hartel (DEN) – Equestrianism
2 silvers

In the 1930s Lis Hartel was coached by her mother Else Holst, but when she reached a national competitive level, Gunnar Andersen, a professional horseman, took over. In the early part of her career she competed in both jumping and dressage, and was Danish champion in dressage in 1943 and 1944. Later in 1944, she was struck by polio. At that time she was pregnant with her second child, and no one thought that she ever would be able to compete on horseback again. But through her determination and strong will she gradually regained function in most of her muscles, although she remained paralyzed below her knees for the rest of her life.

In 1947 she started to compete in dressage again, and she improved her dressage skill together with her excellent horse Jubilee and was selected for the Danish team in the 1952 games. Although she needed help to get on and off her horse, she surprised everybody by winning the silver medal in the dressage competition in Helsinki. Four years later she won another dressage silver medal at the Equestrian Games in Stockholm, also this time together with her favourite horse Jubilee. She won the unofficial world championships in dressage in 1954, and was Danish champion in dressage in 1952, 1953, 1954, 1956 and 1959, the last time with a new horse, Limelight.

Lis Hartel’s equestrian achievements caught interest among ordinary sport interested people in Scandinavia, where equestrian among many was regarded as an upper-class sport. She was a charming and charismatic woman, extremely popular not only among followers of equestrians, but also among people outside the horse circles. She also became a role model of other victims of polio, showing what was possible to achieve through training and determination. She was invited to do dressage exhibitions in several countries in Western Europe, and raised funds for treatment of polio victims. In Doorn in the Netherlands, a centre for disabled was named after her, the Lis Hartel Foundation.

2008-2012
Natalia Partyka (POL) – Table tennis
Natalia Partyka was born without a right hand or forearm. She began to play table tennis at the age of seven and four years competed in the 2000 Paralympic Games in Sydney. At eleven years of age, she became the youngest Paralympian in history. By 2004 she was clearly the Paralympic table tennis player and began to make an impact in able bodied competition by winning the European Cadets title. Partyka has gone on to win three consecutive Paralympic titles, compete in both the Beijing and London Olympics and win medals at the able bodied European Championships.

1996
Paola Fantato (ITA) – Archery
At age 8, Paola Fantato was diagnosed with polio, and has been wheelchair-bound since. She picked up archery in her twenties, and quickly became quite successful at archery events for disabled. She won a Paralympic bronze medal in 1988, upgrading that to gold in 1992. She was then invited to join the Italian Olympic team and qualified for the Atlanta Games. While eliminated in the first round, she became the first athlete to compete in the Olympics and Paralympics in the same year, winning team gold and an individual bronze. Her successes have only increased, adding two golds in Sydney and one in Athens, as well as two world titles to her tally.

1948
Jack Dearlove (GBR) – Rowing
1 silver
Jack Dearlove was 12 years old when he lost the lower part of his leg. He was hitching a lift to cricket practice on a friend’s bicycle when the wheels of the bike stuck in some tram lines. The two boys were thrown into the path of a steam wagon and his friend was killed outright. By the time of the London Olympics of 1948 Dearlove had twenty years’ experience as a coxswain which included steering the Thames Rowing Club to a victory at the Henley Regatta. He refused to wear an artificial leg, walking with the aid of crutches instead, and this proved problematic for the British Olympic Association who forbade him for taking part in the opening ceremony of the London Games.
Dearlove went on to have a successful career in business with the Sainsbury’s organization. His son, Sir Richard Dearlove, served as head of the British Secret Intelligence Service (MI6) from 1999 to 2004.

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.)