Skip to main content Narottam Medhora

The visual history of the Winter Olympics

Published: 2021-09-30
Updated: 2021-09-30

The inaugural Winter Olympics at Chamonix, France in 1924 saw 16 countries participate, of which 10 won medals while competing across 16 events. Nearly a century later, the 2022 Winter Olympics in Beijing will see 92 countries challenge for medals across 109 events.


United States



Soviet Union







The expansion of the Winter Games

The number of events in the Winter Olympics remained stable before and after the Second World War. However, since Sarajevo 1984, in former Yugoslavia, which had 39 events and 37 participating countries, the competition has seen a steady increase in the number of events and participating countries.

The United States struggles to replicate summer form

The United States, the most successful country in the history of the Summer Olympics, has experienced comparatively little success in the Winter Games. The United States has participated in every iteration of the event, picking up medals throughout the century. However, it has only won the Games outright on one occasion — more than 90 years ago at the 1932 Games at Lake Placid.

A snapshot in time

Looking at a nation’s medal count over time also provides an intriguing look into modern political history. The appearance and disappearance of Nazi Germany in the 1930s, the disruption caused by the Second World War, and the rise and fall of the Soviet Union, provide a fascinating geopolitical backdrop to the global sporting event.