The country that’s hosting the games, Russia this year, can choose the path for the torch as long as it reaches the site of the games in time for the opening ceremony. Because the country of Russia is huge, and the Russian government wants as many of its citizens to be able to see the torch, they have created a path that covers just about all of the country, plus the North Pole, and even into the International Space Station (ISS) in space! This year’s path is over 40,000 miles long. That’s long enough to go almost twice around the world!
This is only the 22nd Winter Olympics Games because the first Winter Games didn’t start until 1924 in France and the games are only held every four years.
The Winter Games are relatively new because the original Olympic Games were held in Greece which is in the Mediterranean. The Mediterranean is not really a snow country. Whatever amount of snow that does fall there, doesn’t last really that long. Interest in having Winter Games came from countries that are located in climates where winters feature a lot of snow for many, many, many months. In 1924, in France, the first Winter Games were held and finally skiers, skaters, and sledders had a stage upon which to compete against the best athletes and sportspersons in the world.
The Winter Games this year have 15 events and of these, there really are only two basic types of competitions:
- Skiing on the snow and
- Skating on ice
The skiing events include alpine, nordic, biathlon, jumping, freestyle, and cross country skiing, as well as sledding, and most recently added, snowboarding.
The ice competitions include figure skating, hockey, speed skating, and curling. The competitions start on February 6th and go all the way to February 23rd., almost the entire month. Most of the events have multiple formats. Some are team events, others are individual events. Some are for men only, some are for women only. Some are for men and women together.
But, regardless of which Winter Games sports you most enjoy, you’ll most certainly will want to watch the opening and closing ceremonies. We don’t know yet what the opening ceremony will feature, but in recent years, the host country has worked hard to outdo the previous host. So you can bet that this year’s opening ceremony will be spectacular.
So remember to watch the opening ceremony on February 7th. Then enjoy watching the games and cheer on the athletes representing your country and your favorite winter-time sport.
Gem words:torchbearer - someone that carries a torch (like the olympic torch)
spectacular - beautiful in a very dramatic and eye-catching way
ISS - International Space Station, is a space station, or a habitable artificial satellite in low Earth orbit.