The table is set to rank gold medals as the main factor.
|Unified Team (CIS) ||9||6||8||23|
The above table needs a little explanation because of geopolitical changes. Some may charge that the table is unfair to Germany and Russia.
- "Germany" reflects medals won by Imperial Germany, the Weimar Republic, Nazi Germany, the East-West German unity team of 1956--1964, and modern reunited Germany. Combining "Germany" with West and East Germany ups the total to 300 medals (106 gold, 107 silver, 87 bronze). I thought long and hard about dividing the Germanys from the total. In the end I believe it is unfair to other countries because that allows two German teams for each Olympics.
- "Russia" is the modern Russian Federation. I separated Russia from the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics and the Unified Team (Commonwealth of Independent States) because it would be unfair to give medals won by Soviet Ukrainians and other ethnic republics to Russia. If the Soviet Union, Unified Team, Russia, and the former Soviet states were combined their total would be 290 (120 gold, 84 silver, 86 bronze). Regardless how one cuts it, Russia has made up for their late entry and has to be considered one of the best Winter Olympic teams out there.
From the table it is clear that Winter Games are dominated by Europe and the West. Out of the 2,177 medals awarded
- 1,750 (80.4%) were won by European countries
- 320 (14.7%) were won by the United States and Canada
- 102 (4.7%) medals were won by Asian countries: Japan, South Korea, North Korea, People's Republic of China, Kazakhstan, and Uzbekistan.
- 5 (0.2%) were won by countries in the Southern Hemisphere: Australia and New Zealand.
- 0 medals won by African or South American countries
The region that is geographically most likely to produce strong Winter Olympic teams is upper Central Europe: Austria/Switzerland up through Germany and into the continental Nordic countries of Norway, Sweden, and Finland. These countries experience long winters that allow for outdoor, natural cultural winter sports training, mountains for skiing, and indoor sports infrastructure. The exception to this is Denmark which has only a silver in women's curling. Denmark lacks mountains and large outdoor areas. This curbs many winter sports activities and retards Denmark's efforts in the Winter Olympics.