In 1998 the Winter Olympic Games returned to Japan after 26 years. Snowboarding debuted as an official discipline. Curling was returned to the Olympic Winter programme this time with a tournament for both men and women. For the first time, the men's ice hockey tournament was opened to all professionals and women's ice hockey was introduced to the Olympic programme. The inspired team from the Czech Republic scored a surprise victory. Bjorn Dahlie won three gold medals in Nordic skiing to become the first winter athlete to earn eight career olympic gold medals and twelve total medals. Tara Lipinski won the women's figure skating title to become, at 15, the youngest champion in an individual event in the history of the Winter Olympics. The spirit of the Games was exemplified by Alpine skier Hermann Maier. Maier survived a spectacular fall in the downhill, recovered and earned gold medals in both the super-G and the giant slalom.
72 NOCs (Nations)
2,176 athletes (787 women, 1,389 men)
8,329 media (2,586 written press, 5,743 broadcasters)