10 Fun Facts About The Winter Olympics

by Lindsay Shapka in , , ,

Curling, Figure Skating, Ice Hockey, Snowboarding, and Ski Jumping — oh my! I don't know about you, but I am an Olymp-addict — and I can never get enough of the Winter Olympic Games! 

Here are some fun, crazy, and intriguing facts about the Winter Olympics.

1. The very first Winter Olympic Games was held in 1924 in Chamonix, France

Officially called the "I Olympic Winter Games", or Les Iers Jeux olympiques d'hiver in French, the competitions were held at the foot of the famous Mont Blanc and Haute-Savoie between January 25 and February 5, 1924. It was held in the same year as the Summer Olympic Games, which continued until 1992. 

2. There are 15 official Winter Olympic sports

There are multiple events within each category, but there are only 15 main events. They are: 

  • Alpine Skiing 
  • Biathlon
  • Bobsleigh
  • Cross Country Skiing 
  • Curling
  • Figure Skating
  • Freestyle Skiing
  • Ice hockey
  • Luge
  • Nordic Combined 
  • Short Track Speed Skating
  • Skeleton
  • Ski Jumping 
  • Snowboard
  • Speed Skating 

3. Norway has won the most medals of ANY other country at the Winter Games

There are 10 countries that rise to the top as having the most medals, they are: 

  • Norway: 329
  • United States: 282
  • Germany: 228
  • Austria: 218
  • Soviet Union: 194
  • Canada: 170
  • Finland: 161
  • Sweden: 144
  • Switzerland: 138
  • Russia: 124

Note: The medal counts are correct as of February 7, 2018. 

4. The Winter Games held in Nagano in 1998 were interrupted because of too much snow! 

5. The Olympic medals are always designed by the host country and represent cultural elements of the country

According to the Olympic website, the medals for the 2018 Winter Olympics "range in weight from 586 grams for the gold medal to 493 grams for the bronze... They are the work of celebrated South Korean designer Lee Suk-woo, who incorporated Hangeul – the Korean alphabet and the foundation of Korean culture – into their design through a series of consonants symbolising the effort of athletes from around the world, who will come together as one to compete at PyeongChang 2018. In total, 259 sets of the medals have been made."

6. Runners do not actually pass the torch

It's true! During the torch relay, runners do not actually pass the torch that they are carrying. Only the flame is passed and each runner is allowed to keep their torch!

7. The wall's of the halfpipe in Halfpipe Snowboarding are 22 feet high! 

8. The most expensive Olympic Games cost $51 billion

At $51 billion, the 2014 Sochi Olympics are the most expensive Olympics (summer or winter) EVER.

9. There is NO talking in the bobsled during a race

For real. 


10. The five rings of the Olympic flag symbolize the five significant continents

The rings are interconnected to symbolize the friendships created during international competition, The colors were chosen because at least one of them appears on the flag of every country in the world! 

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10 Fun Facts About The Winter Olympics
Fun Facts About The Winter Olympics

Be Polite To Your Waiter In France Or You Might Be Charged More!

by Lindsay Shapka in , , ,

Have you found coffee in France to be incredibly overpriced? Was your last meal outrageously expensive? It might be because of how you asked for it.

It turns out that waiters have been empowered in the country to charge customers more, or less, depending on how rude or polite they are when asking for food or interacting with staff.

Yup, you read that right.

Though this is not an official policy, it has been in effect in restaurants all over the country and is quickly becoming more widespread.

According to an article in the Independent, a restaurant in Nice has been doing this since 2013.

The wait staff was sick of people coming in and rudely asking for coffee during lunch, so they started penalizing them. Just asking for a coffee will cost you 7€, adding a "please" to the request lowers the price to 4.25€, and beginning the entire interaction with a "hello" and finishing with a "please" will get you your coffee for a low 1.40€!

Of course, many are saying that this is just a tricky way of charging tourists more — especially those of us who come from countries where there is a "the customer is always right" mentality. And, because the idea is starting to spread, it is starting to cause some serious debate.

But, believe it or not, these types of policies aren't really that strange in France.

Apparently, the French grab-and-go chain Pret A Manger allows staff to give out free food and drinks to customers that they find polite or attractive. (No running out for a coffee in your stretched out sweatpants in France, I guess.)

Whether this type of policy will become the norm in every eating establishment across the country is yet to be seen.

In the meantime, if you want to save some money on your next trip to France, don't forget to say "bonjour" and "s'il vous plait" when ordering your cappuccino!

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Be polite to your waiter in France or you might be charged more

Interview With The Incomparable David Suzuki

by Lindsay Shapka in , ,

During my time as Editor of WHERE Edmonton Magazine, I was lucky enough to have a 30-minute interview with the incomparable David Suzuki. If you are not familiar with him, Suzuki is a Canadian environmentalist, activist, public speaker, writer (he has written more than 50 books!), and teacher. 

He is known for hosting the popular television show The Nature of Thingsand most recently, for his outspoken remarks against climate change and environmental policies of the Canadian government. 

Our interview revolved mostly around his new book Letters To My Grandchildren, and what comes next for the 79-year-old, but we did manage to chat a little bit about some of his environmental concerns as well. 

Check out the interview about his book and future plans here, and see some of our environmental-themed conversation below. 

The Anthrotorian (A): One thing that you are well known for is your, sometimes controversial, environmental work. At this point, what do you think the biggest threat to the environment is? 

David Suzuki (DS): People always ask me, "is it deforestation, is it species extinction, is it the ocean destruction, the ozone layer, or climate change..." I believe that the real challenge or threat is the human mind.

I don't think we have any lack of solutions to the various problems we face, but so long as the human mind clings to its beliefs and values, that is what is limiting us.

For example, you have Stephen Harper — who [was] the Prime Minister of Canada for 10 years — and said that we were not going to do anything about reducing greenhouse gas emissions because it would destroy the economy. So, he elevated the economy above the very atmosphere that keeps us alive.

That is really puzzling to me... You see, we create these ideas about the economy, capitalism, corporations or human borders, the market, and currency, and we act like these are the most important things in the world — that come before clean air, clean water, clean soil, clean energy, and other species. That is absolutely crazy!

What I say is this: you can't go for three minutes without air or you die.

Think about that.

We walk such a fine line. Three minutes without air and we're dead?! If you have to breathe polluted air all the time, you're sick. So surely everyone in the world would have to agree that clean air has got to be our highest priority. Without that, you are either dead or sick. How then can you use air as a garbage can?

Let's get things straight here — yes, the economy is important, but we MADE the economy.

Air is something that we DID NOT MAKE, and without it we are dead. So surely whatever we do economically shouldn't infringe on the air we breathe...

We need to recognize that we are biological creatures — we are animals — that need clean air, clean water, clean food, and clean energy, or we're dead. Those things have to be protected above EVERYTHING else. 

A: Do you see the younger generation approaching this problem differently? 

DS: Well, young people are certainly seeing that their future is at risk. That's why you have groups like Youth For Climate Justice.

You see, whatever does or does not happen over the next few years will have little effect on old guys like me... but you guys, you young ones, are going to have to live with it for the rest of your lives. You have everything at stake.

[A big concern I have is that] young people are generally not voting — not because of a lack of interest, but because they do not see the issues that they care about being talked about.

Young people see that politicians aren't paying attention to their issues, so they are going about trying to solve these problems a different way.

But, I call on young people to start raising these issues in the political sphere and their parents and grandparents have to do the same on their behalf — making the concern for our children part of the political agenda. Right now it isn't. 

A: When it comes to the climate change issue, what is our biggest hope at this point? 

DS: Well, obviously people have to change the way they live and there is a great deal of stuff going on at the grassroots level.

For example, the City of Vancouver [in Canada] has committed to going fossil fuel free by, I think, the year 2020 — they are going to be the greenest city in the world!

There is a lot of amazing things happening at the municipal level, but, we need the top level leadership to commit to getting off fossil fuels. 

NOTE: The views expressed by David Suzuki are his own and are not necessarily the views of The Anthrotorian. 

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Reads For The Road: The World Without Us by Alan Weisman

by Lindsay Shapka in , , , ,

Written by award-winning journalist Alan Weisman, The World Without Us is a fascinating book that examines all aspects of a simple question:

What would happen to the planet if human beings just disappeared?

Now, Weisman is quick to clarify that this disappearance would not be because of something violent like a natural disaster or nuclear war. No, he is examining what the result would be if all of us just suddenly vanished into thin air. 

What would happen to the land, the cities, the ocean, the climate, our garbage, our art? How long — if ever — would it take for all human traces to disappear? 

Weisman’s does a great job of approaching these questions from all angles and taking readers through his journey of discovery and research.  

The New York Times Book Review called it “A fascinating eco-thriller…” and I couldn’t agree more — I couldn't put it down or stop talking about it with my friends and family (sorry guys).