When did people first begin frolicking in the snow? Probably from time immemorial, once they figured out how to move around in the ice and snow and once they began to build and use things like sleds and skates. It maybe took a leap and a hop, a glide and a glissando before people were being creative with their sleds and skates – and then competitive.
And then it was a matter of time before the betting industry caught on. Arguably, people’s tendencies to play, have fun and race with one another and taking bets about it all are among modern society’s first instincts, in that order.
While winter sports are obviously more popular and have a longer history in countries which have a long and very cold winter, these days winter’s not an issue when it comes to several different kinds of pastimes such as speed skating, figure skating, and ice hockey. Starting from about the mid-20th century, venues such as ice rinks enjoyed a trend where they were moved indoors and became something to do all year round.
Headlining any idea of competitive winter sports is the king of all such events, the Winter Olympics, which takes place once every four years since 1924. Since the mid-1980s, a decision was taken to host the Winter Olympics – which began with a possibility of five types of winter sports – on a different cycle to the Summer Olympics. And unlike the Summer Olympics, it is dependent on the weather in its host countries.
But the Winter Olympics is not the only competitive winter sports event in the world. There are at least nine other popular programs in which winter sporting experts get to test their mettle, in areas of the world as diverse as the Arctic Circle, Asia, and Europe.