Nothing brings the world together quite like the Olympics. Or, at least in the US, one single sport at the Winter Olympic Games.
There are 91 different national federations participating in 15 different sports at this year’s Winter Games in Beijing, China. And according to a recent Google trends analysis performed by travel perks research company Upgraded Points, figure skating is – by far – the country’s most searched winter Olympic sport, topping search volumes in 23 different American states over the past five years.
Nationwide viewership seems to correspond with the results: At the 2018 Winter Olympics in PyeongChang, South Korea, figure skating was only one of two events with increased viewership compared to the 2014 Games, according to a Vox analysis of NBC data.
According to the International Olympic Committee, figure skating is “synonymous” with international quadrennial competition as the oldest sport in the Winter Olympic program, first contested in the 1908 Games. It’s also a relative novelty compared to some other sports: Viewers do not get to see figure skating on television very often, while a sport like ice hockey is televised fairly often, due to the NHL.
Luge was the second-most searched sport in the analysis, topping the chart in nine states. Ice hockey, which sits in third, was most-searched in four states: Arizona, New Hampshire, New Jersey, and Pennsylvania.
Alpine skiing, cross country skiing, ski jump and curling all received honorable mention. Plenty of sports did not make any state’s most-searched list, including skeleton, speed skating and snowboarding.
Some of the popularity appears to be geographically based. Ice hockey fans seem to be mostly clustered in the Northeast, for example. And luge appears to have a fanbase in the Southeast, topping searches in Georgia, Alabama and Mississippi.
In the 2018 Games, figure skaters from Team USA brought home two bronze medals. Team USA luger Chris Mazdzer captured a silver medal, and the American women’s ice hockey team won gold.
If you want to watch this year’s figure skating finals, here’s when they’ll be televised on NBC and Peacock, all times Eastern:
- Team events of women’s free skate, pairs free skate, and ice dance free dance: Feb. 6 at 8:15 pm
- Men’s free skate: Feb. 9 at 8:30 pm
- Ice dance free dance: Feb. 13 at 8:15 pm
- Women’s free skate: Feb. 17 at 5 am
- Pairs free skate: Feb. 19 at 6 am
The rest of the sports can also be found on NBC’s television schedule. This year’s Olympics will conclude on Feb. 20, followed by the Paralympic Games in Beijing next month.
Disclosure: CNBC Make It parent company NBCUniversal owns NBC Sports and NBC Olympics. NBC Olympics is the US broadcast rights holder to all Summer and Winter Games through 2032.
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