Although China—like the rest of the world—care a lot less about the Winter Olympics than they do about the summer games, there is indeed an Olympics coming up. Olympic gold medals are a huge source of national pride in China, so the Vancouver 2010 Olympics will be watched more closely here than in most countries.
Here’s a rundown of some facts and figures on China’s Winter Olympic history:
- China’s Winter Olympic debut: Lake Placid, 1980. China’s best result was an 18th place finish in women’s slalom ski. In 1984, matters only got worse, as China’s top finish was 19 in the women’s slalom ski.
- China’s first Olympic medal: 1992, Albertville, 2 silvers in women’s speed skating, 500 meters and 1,000 meters, for Ye Qiaobao (was the first year in the program for speed skating)
- First Winter Olympic gold: 2002, Yang Yang won the women’s 500 m and 1,000 m in short track speed skating.
- China’s rank in medals from Torino 2006: 11 (2 gold, 4 silver, 5 bronze). All were in speed skating except for one gold in men’s freestyle skiing aerials (Han Xiaopeng) and silver in women’s freestyle skiing aerials (Li Nina)
- China’s historical Winter Olympic medals: 4 gold, 16 silver, 13 bronze, 33 total
Also worthy of note: China has historically been very strong in speed skating–it accounts for 25, or almost 80 percent, of China’s winter Olympic medals. Its other Olympic medals have come in figure skating (5) and skiing (3).
China’s best shot at the elusive team sports gold is in curling. The Chinese women’s team became national heroes when they brought home the world championship earlier this year. The women’s ice hockey team has also improved rapidly, but despite their number 7 world ranking, they have very little hope of medaling this time around. Powerhouses USA, Canada, Sweden, Finland and Russia are too dominant.
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