At the first Winter Olympics in Chamonix in 1924 merely 11 out of 258 athletes were women, competing in the only discipline allowed for them: figure skating. In 1991 the IOC decided that any new sport seeking to join the Olympic programme must have women’s competitions which probably helped the fact that at the 2018 Games in Pyeongchang a good 41 percent of the athletes were female. Take a look at our selection of 10 incredible women in the history of the Winter Olympics.

  1. In the history of the Olympic Winter Games, nobody has won more medals than cross-country skier Marit Bjørgen from Norway who has 15 medals – eight gold, four silver and three bronze.
  2. At the 1988 Games in Calgary, Debra “Debi” Thomas became the first black athlete to ever win a medal at the Winter Olympics after she won bronze in figure skating.
  3. Czech athlete Ester Ledecka became the first person to win two gold medals at the same Olympic Winter Games in two sports – Alpine skiing and snowboarding.
  4. Norwegian figure skater and actress Sonja Henie was one of those 11 female athletes competing in the first Winter Olympic Games – at only 11 years old. Although she didn’t win in 1924 she went on to medal in the next three games.
  5. In Albertville 1992 Annelise Coberger from New Zealand won silver medal in women’s slalom and became the first athlete from the Southern Hemisphere to ever win a medal at the Olympic Winter Games.
  6. The first time the Olympic oath was sworn by a woman was at the 1956 Winter Games in Cortina d’Ampezzo, Italian Alpine skier Giuliana Chenal-Minuzzo had the honour.
  7. Olympic ski jumping competitions for women were first allowed at Sochi 2014. Carina Vogt from Germany became the first female ski jumper to win Olympic gold.
  8. In PyeongChang 2018 ice hockey player Jocelyne Lamoureux-Davidson from the USA scored the fastest two goals by one player at a Winter Olympics with just six seconds apart.
  9. The 1960 Winter Olympics in Squaw Valley saw the debut of speed skating for women. German athlete Helga Haase won the first gold medal for women in the competition after winning the 500 metres event.
  10. US snowboarder Chloe Kim was the first woman to land back-to-back 1080s in the halfpipe at an Olympics, impressively demonstrated at the 2018 Winter Games in PyeongChang.
Words and image selection by Columnist, NG.
See our Winter Olympic Archive Collection here