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Why as a British person I love the Winter Olympics

Updated on February 22, 2014

The modern Olympic movement is one of the greatest innovations of the late 19th/early 20th century. It brings together people from all over the world. People form a variety of cultures all come together to compete against one another. It symbolizes the modern age of globalisation perfectly.

The first winter games were held in 1924 in Chamonix, France and since then Britain have only ever won 10 gold medals in the 90 year history of the event. This means that as a British fan I go into Winter Olympics not expecting too much. The main reason for this is because we do not experience much snow or other cold weather of this type therefore we are already at a disadvantage to countries like Canada or Norway who perform well at the winter games. These countries have some of the best facilities to practise and much of their population has grown up competing in sports that take place during the Winter Olympics. This gives them an advantage from an early age. Our athletes may not start competing in some of the alpine sports until they are in their late teens and even then the only opportunity they get will be during the family holiday away to the Alps during half-term. How can they improve significantly if they only partake in these sports once or twice a year? The answer is that sadly they can’t. We can only prosper in the newer sports that are added such as the Ski Slopestyle or sports that take place indoors such as the curling. This is why as a sports fan I have realistically low hopes going into a Winter Olympics.

Some sports are gain massive media attention during the Winter Olympics
Some sports are gain massive media attention during the Winter Olympics | Source

This is not necessarily a bad thing. It simply means that when we do get a chance of winning a medal we hype it up and give the athlete the lime light that they deserve. We all get incredibly excited at the chance of gaining even a bronze. During the winter games colour doesn’t seem to matter as much as we rarely see many medals at all. The athlete in question gets the attention they deserve for all the hard work that they have put into their sports over the past four years. This is something that is overlooked and underappreciated at the Summer Olympics because we have more successful athletes and as a result we win more medals. We also win more gold medals so someone that wins a gold only gets a brief mention and when in reality their achievements should be appreciated however with the large number of medals won there simply isn’t enough time. Whereas at the winter games there is more time and therefore their achievement are more appreciated.

British Medal History at Winter olympics

  • Most successful Olympics were Chamonix (1924) and Sochi (2014) with 1 Gold, 1 Silver and 2 Bronze medals.
  • Great Britain is the most successful nation in women's skeleton bobsleigh, winning 2 Gold medals form the four times it has featured at the Olympics.
  • Great Britain has never hosted a Winter Olympics

Going into a Winter Olympics with a lower level of expectation than I would for a Summer Olympics it brings with it its benefits. This is because I do not suffer from the same level of frustration that I would watching a summer games where we fail to gain the medal that we are expected. A silver medal would sometimes be considered a huge missed opportunity. This can make watching these games more frustrating. This is something that is not experienced at a winter games. Any result is pleasing as I do not expect too much. A finish inside the top eight would be considered a great achievement. Wherever they finish it brings a sense of achievement and little frustration because many of our athletes do not go into the games expecting to gain a medal so there is not this frustration when they miss out. I do not think that these athletes are incapable, it’s just that as a country that has a fairly temperate climate we don’t have a huge number of winter athletes and as a result we have less chances of gaining any medals. This is also due to the low levels of funding so they are at a further disadvantage to the other countries with a colder climate.

Curling athletes have gained more fans during the Sochi Olympics
Curling athletes have gained more fans during the Sochi Olympics | Source

Even with the few athletes that we have you hear about them in the media and they get a few minutes of fame and their effort gets applauded. In this country many if not all of the sports that take place in the Winter Olympics are not ones that are heavily watched or competed in when the games are not on our televisions (with the exception of ice hockey and curling up in Scotland). This means that these athletes in their sports will work hard for four years and they may well win events but the media tends not to report on it due the low levels of interest in their sport. So when the Olympics rolls around, we find out about these athletes and the sports that they compete in. They then get the recognition that they deserve and maybe they can gain an extra piece of funding with this media attention that only the Winter Olympics can bring to their sports. This is something that tends not to happen too much at the Summer Olympics because many of the athletes are already well known because their sports are already on our televisions most of the time when the summer games are not on. Therefore they do not appreciate this extra media attention to their sports as much as the winter athletes do. This goes without saying that both sets of athletes appreciate the media attention that comes with the Olympics.

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Having less athletes and less chances means that as a neutral I can enjoy all of the sports more. I can really sit back and appreciate what all of the amazing athletes are doing and I can enjoy the competitive nature to which they are all showing without being bias towards someone I am supporting. I only want to see the best skills shown form all. Whereas if I was supporting a British athlete I only want them to do well and I want everyone else to do less well and not fully show their skills in order for the athlete that I am supporting to win. This is something that I do not do whilst watching the winter games because I am not bias towards any particular nation. This gives me something of a clear head when watching any of the sports on show where Great Britain does not have anybody with a chance of gaining a medal. This then enables me to sit there and learn about the sport and get excited when anyone shows a great piece of skill no matter what country they are from. This is what the Olympics are all about, celebrating great pieces of skill.

The Sochi Olympic flame in the middle of the Olympic Park, symbolizing the Olympics.
The Sochi Olympic flame in the middle of the Olympic Park, symbolizing the Olympics. | Source

Overall the Winter Olympics provides a great opportunity for me as an armchair sports fan. I get to see new sports that I have never seen before or sports that I can only see when the winter games are on. Whilst being entertaining it is not all about watching other countries competing for the medals, there will also be one or two opportunities to watch a British athlete earn a medal. This is what makes it equally entertaining as the Summer Olympics. It would not be as good to watch as it is without those few medal opportunities that we have. The whole Olympic movement is something that has been a blessing on the world. It brings everyone together and allows them to show their skills on the global scale. Be it the Winter Olympics or the Summer Olympics both have the same thing in common, they bring people together and they are both entertaining as hell!


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      pgorner 3 years ago from Tijuana, Mexico

      I didn't want to see the Winter Olympics. Now I'm kinda disappointed to see it go. Loved all the fast sports. And did you see how hard the USA screwed up in everything but ice dancing? Good thing America barely watches.

    • Suhail and my dog profile image

      Suhail Zubaid aka Clark Kent 3 years ago from Mississauga, ON

      For some odd reason, I like winter Olympics more than the summer ones. Netherlands has taken to speed skating rather well, considering that they don't have hills and snows. I think going forward, England and Northern island should also concentrate on events they can develop at home.