Iceland never won a medal at the Winter Olympics: why? This fact is counterintuitive, to say the least. Indeed, despite its Arctic location, the total extension of all Icelandic skiing facilities is equal to that of a single Apennine resort: there are just 76 km of slopes with only 46 ski lifts in all Iceland. Modest numbers if compared to the island’s surface area that exceeds 100,000 sq kilometres. A rational explaination comes from the relatively low height of the mountains, the highest peak being the ‘Hvannadalshnjúkur’ (2,100m), which forces ski resorts to be located at around 1,000 metres – with snow only between November and April, as in continental Europe. The low population density, and the high presence of volcanic activity also reduce the possibilities of developing downhill skiing or snowboarding to just a small area of the island: orography does not help. Further, with only 320,000 inhabitants, the pool of ‘potential Olympians’ is small, and at the same time the best athletes are attracted to sports that can be played all year round, thanks to the many indoor facilities, or that are more popular (think of the 2016 UEFA European Championship exploit). Icelanders have known it for a long time: they need snow and ice to ski and skate. Maybe they don’t have enough, or maybe even too much!
Sources: Ilfoglio.it WSJ.com