Winter sports didn't get their own Olympics until 1924. The idea had been suggested since 1908, but the outbreak of World War I stopped the official Olympics from happening. After the latest Winter Olympics in Turin, Italy, the next round will take place in Vancouver in 2010. The 2014 event will take place in Sochi, Russia. Now that's planning ahead!
Curling dates back to 17th century Scotland. Four players guide a granite rock down a track of ice to its goal or "house." They use broom-like sticks to maneuver the stone. The curling stone has to have very exact dimensions and craftsmanship, and some of the finer stones can cost upwards of $1,500.
5,000 year-old Egyptian tombs have pictures of field hockey games. Men's ice hockey made its Olympic debut in 1920, oddly enough in the Summer Olympics. It was moved to the Winter Olympics four years later. A women's team was added in 1998. The first organized game was played in Montreal, Canada by university students in 1875.
The first ice skates were found at the bottom of a Swiss lake. They were made in 3000 B.C. from cattle bones. James II of England and Louis XIV of France were two kings who fell in love with the sport and constructed large and expensive ice-skating arenas on their palace grounds.
St. Moritz, Switzerland is responsible for inventing the luge, the skeleton sled and the bobsled. A luge refers to the sled itself as well as the sport. A player lies on their back, sometimes alone or with a partner, and shoots down an ice track. They steer by flexing their calf muscles or pressing down with their shoulders.
A sledder lies down on their stomach with their head and feet hanging off the skeleton sled. They shoot down a track at speeds of 80 mph. The athlete steers the sled by moving their muscles. They cannot move their head, arms or feet to help. Maybe the name “skeleton" is a hint at how dangerous this sport can be.
Skiing used to be a common way to get around, just like snowshoeing. The Norse people believed that skiing was created by Skadi, the snowshoe goddess. The word "ski" has been around since 1890 and is one of the very few words in the English language to have two i's next to each other.
Surfers are credited with the invention of snowboards and the sport of snowboarding in the 1970's and 1980's. One of the first snowboards was invented in Michigan and called the "snurfer." The style of freestyle snowboarding owes a lot of its moves to skateboarding. Freestyle snowboarders do jumps and moves on ramps and half-pipes just like skateboarders do.