Every four years, the world is captivated by incredible athletes from across the globe competing in the Winter Olympics. Some Olympians come into the competition hoping to find their way onto the podium against the odds, while others arrive feeling as though they will need an extra suitcase to bring home all their medals.
In each iteration of the Winter Olympics, at least one athlete has taken home multiple medals – in some cases as many as five. These top medalists have marked their place in Olympic history by being the most dominant athletes on skates or skis, earning a lifetime of fame and bringing glory to their countries. (These are the top Winter Olympics medal winners of all time.)
To determine the top medal winner of every Winter Olympics, 24/7 Tempo reviewed data from Olympedia. In the case of ties, we selected the athlete that won the most golds as a tie-breaker. For Olympic Games in which two athletes won the exact same number and type of medal, both were included.
Certain sports lend themselves to having multi-medalist athletes, as disciplines like speed skating and cross country skiing offer competitions at a number of distances, as well as team and individual events. Of the 26 athletes on the list, there are 13 speed skaters, nine cross country skiers, two alpine skiers, one biathlete, and one ski jumper.
As you might expect, the countries that produced the most top medalists from the Winter Olympics tend to be places with colder weather. Norway, Finland, and the former Soviet Union all have multiple athletes on this list, as does the U.S., with three.
Only one athlete has ever brought home the most medals in multiple different Winter Olympics – Norwegian cross country skier Marit Bjørgen. She racked up 15 total medals, including eight golds, in her five trips to the Winter Olympics. This makes her not just the most decorated Winter Olympian ever, but one of the 40 most successful athletes of the 21st century.
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