The Winter Olympics
Part 2: Training and Competition
The Winter Olympics is an important event is the lives of thousand of athletes. They work very hard for years at a time in hopes of competing in the Winter Games. Some athletes have full-time jobs and find it difficult to find time to train. Others are professional athletes and spend most of their time training. Many sports have national and world championships, but the Olympics are considered to be more prestigious because they happen only every four years and because they are usually attended by many more athletes.
Many sports also have qualifying events. Figure skating is a well-known example of this. Most countries have "trials," events that resemble the Olympics and from which the athletes who score the highest go on to the Games themselves. Other sports, such as hockey, have captains who choose the best players they can find. The idea beyond both approaches is to send a counry's best athletes to the Olympics.
Many of the world's largest nations watch closely how many medals their athletes win. Other athletes are happy just to make it to the Games; for them, it's all about the experience and the camaraderie.
Like the Summer Olympics, the Winter Games take place in and around a city that has access to the kinds of venues that will faciliate Olympic competition. The first Winter Games took place in Chamonix, France, in 1924, with 292 athletes from 16 nations competing in 18 events. Since then, the Games have grown considerably. At the 2002 Winter Olympics, in Salt Lake City, Utah, a total 2,399 athletes from 77 nations competed in 78 events.
The country that has played host to the most Winter Olympics is the United States, with four. Check out the table below for a complete rundown.
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