The 2014 Winter Olympics start February 7, in Sochi, Russia. With the excitement of awards season, the Super Bowl, and that pesky polar vortex, we almost forgot to be crazy excited about the impending Olympics. So we are here to help with some helpful fun facts about the Winter Olympics.
1. You’re not imagining it: The Winter Olympics aren’t as major as the Summer Olympics. There are only 15 sports in the winter games, as opposed to 41 in the summer.
2. These are the most expensive Olympics in history, at around $51 billion—just a bit over Russia’s original $12 billion budget. By comparison, the last Winter Olympics, in Vancouver, cost around $8 billion. There are plenty of factors to blame, including a higher cost of security after recent terror threats.
3. There have never been more countries involved. A total of 88 countries will be represented. Welcome to your first Olympics, Paraguay and Zimbabwe!
4. Size matters. The biggest countries are sending the most athletes this year. The United States will send 230 athletes to Sochi, while Russia will have 225, and Canada will have 220. The next closest is Switzerland, at a mere 168.
5. There are three mascots for these Olympics, as voted by the Russian people: a polar bear, hare, and leopard.
6. Lolo Jones is back. Remember Lolo Jones, the Olympic hurdler who caught headlines for being a social-media star at the 2008 and 2012 games? After she didn’t get medal in Beijing and London, she decided to simply… give bobsledding a try. And she made the Olympic team for 2014!
7. Shaun White is still the best snowboarder in the world. Doesn’t it feel like he’s been around forever?! He’s only 27. And he’s still in it! He won the gold medal for the halfpipe at the 2010 and 2006 Olympics, and put your money on him again in 2014.
8. All three female figure skaters from the United States are pretty blonde girls. Gracie Gold, 18 (pictured above), Ashley Wagner, 22, and Polina Edmunds, just 15, will compete in Sochi.
9. There are twelve new events, including a mixed figure-skating team event and women’s ski-jumping.
10. Athletes who win gold on February 15 will be given special gold medals with pieces of a recent meteorite in them. It crashed in Russia on February 15, 2013.
11. Sochi is killing all the stray dogs that have been hanging around town before the tourists and athletes arrive.