Women’s History Month
Did you watch the Winter Olympics this year? I did! The 2018 Winter Olympics in PyeongChang, South Korea, which ended after 16 thrilling, chilling days of competition on February 25th, saw some wonderful moments in the history of women’s sports. While Team USA, which had the fourth highest medal count with 23 in total, saw spectacular performances from all of its 241 athletes, it was the female competitors, like 33-year-old Lindsay Vonn (who became the oldest female Olympic Alpine Skiing medalist with a downhill bronze) and 25-year-old Erin Jackson (who became the first African-American woman to compete on the U.S. Olympic long track speed skating team only four months after taking up the sport) who shone the brightest. For the first time in 20 years, American women, who won five of the nine Olympic gold medals for Team USA and 13 overall, secured more medals than their male counterparts.
The playing field in 2018 certainly looked different than at the first Winter Olympic Games to feature female athletes in 1924, held in Chamonix, France. A total of 16 nations sent 258 athletes: 247 men and 11 women. Women competed in the sole sport of ladies’ figure skating. Herma Szabo (Austria) became the first-ever female Winter Olympic champion after she won the ladies’ singles competition.
Slowly but surely women’s Winter Olympic events were added throughout the history of the game:
At the 1936 Winter Games in Garmisch-Partenkirchen, Germany, women competed in the alpine skiing combined event for the first time ever.
At the 1948 Winter Olympics in St. Moritz, Switzerland, women made their debut in the downhill and slalom skiing, in addition to the established alpine skiing competition.
At the 1952 Winter Olympics held in Oslo, Norway, women competed in cross-country skiing for the first time.
1960 Winter Olympics held in Squaw Valley, California, saw the debut of speed skating for women.
At the 1964 Winter Olympics in Innsbruck, Austria, the women’s 5k cross-country skiing event debuted.
At the 1968 Winter Olympics held in Grenoble, France, women’s luge appeared for the first time.
At the 1976 Winter Olympics in Innsbruck, Austria, women’s ice dancing was added.
The women’s 20k cross-country skiing event was added to the 5k competition for the 1984 Winter Games in Sarajevo, Bosnia-Herzegovina.
Freestyle skiing and short track speed skating for women athletes debuted at the 1992 Games in Albertville, France.
At the 1994 Winter Olympics in Lillehammer, Norway, the aerials discipline of women’s freestyle skiing officially debuted.
At the 1998 Winter Olympics in Nagano, Japan, ice hockey and curling debuted for women.
At the 2002 Winter Olympics in Salt Lake City, Utah, women’s bobsleigh made its first appearance.
At the 2010 Winter Olympics in Vancouver, Canada, ski cross debuted for both women and men.
At the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia, women’s ski jumping made its first appearance.
The 2018 Winter Olympics in PyeongChang, South Korea, saw the addition of women to big air snowboarding, mixed doubles curling, mass start speed skating, and mixed team alpine skiing.
I can’t wait to find out what new opportunities the next Winter Olympics, which will happen in 2022 in Beijing, China, offer up to a new generation of female athletes from around the globe. A world of women ready to light the torch? Count me in.
Here are several links to news articles giving a glimpse of the many highs achieved by female athletes last month in Pyeongchang:
US Women Shine at the 2018 Olympics
Erin Jackson at the Olympics: ‘I feel like I won just being here’
17 Unforgettable Moments from the 2018 Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang
23 best moments of the 2018 Winter Olympics for women
7 US Women who made history at the 2018 Olympic games
Meet teenager Kelly Sildaru, women’s freestyle skier, the star of the next Winter Olympics?