The Winter Olympic Games is a major international sporting event that occurs once every four years. The first celebration of the Winter Olympics was held in Chamonix, France, in 1924. The original sports were alpine and cross-country skiing, figure skating, ice hockey, Nordic combined, ski jumping and speed skating. The Games were held every four years from 1924 until 1936, after which they were interrupted by World War II. The Olympics resumed in 1948 and were celebrated every four years. The Winter and Summer Olympic Games were held in the same years until 1992, after a 1986 decision by the International Olympic Committee (IOC) to place the Summer and Winter Games on separate four-year cycles in alternating even-numbered years. Because of the change, the next Winter Olympics after 1992 were in 1994.
The Winter Games have evolved since their inception. Sports have been added and some of them, such as luge, short track speed skating and freestyle skiing, have earned a permanent spot on the Olympic programme. Others, such as speed skiing, bandy and skijoring, were demonstration sports but never incorporated as Olympic sports. The rise of television as a global medium for communication enhanced the profile of the Games. It created an income stream, via the sale of broadcast rights and advertising, which has become lucrative for the IOC. This allowed outside interests, such as television companies and corporate sponsors, to exert influence. The IOC has had to address several criticisms, internal scandals, the use of performance enhancing drugs by Winter Olympians, as well as a political boycott of the Winter Olympics. Nations have used the Winter Games to showcase the claimed superiority of their political systems.
Canada (IOC country code CAN) has competed at every Winter Olympic Games, and has won at least one medal each time. The country's greatest performance was recently at the 2010 Winter Olympics in Vancouver, where Canadian athletes won 26 medals—two more than the 24 they won in the previous Winter Olympics, in Turin, Italy. Also at the 2010 Games, Canada set a new record for most gold medals won by a country in a single Winter Olympics with 14. This passes the previous record of 13 gold medals in one Games set by the Soviet Union in 1976 and matched by Norway in 2002.
Canada has hosted the winter games twice, in Calgary in 1988, and in Vancouver in 2010. Canada has also hosted the Summer Olympic Games once, in 1976 in Montreal.
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