The first Olympics since the reunification of Germany in 1990 and the breakup of the Soviet Union in 1991 resulted in a record 2,174 athletes from 65 countries as the Winter Games were staged in the French Alps for the third time. Despite all the political turmoil at home, Germany's combined East-West squad and the Unified Team of ex-Soviet athletes were again the biggest winners with the Germans edging the Unifieds in total medals, 26-23.
The female stars of the UT cross-country contingent made the most medal news as Lyubov Egorova (3 gold and 2 silver) and Elena Valbe (1 gold and 4 bronze), each won five and 39–year-old Raisa Smetanina set a Winter Games record with her 10th career medal as a member of the victorious 20–kilometer relay team.
Norway won as many gold medals (9) as the Unified Team, thanks mainly to cross-country skiers Bjorn Dählie and Vegard Ulvang, who each carried off three golds and a silver. Norwegians also won gold in alpine skiing for the first time in 40 years as Finn Christian Jagge (slalom) and Kjetil Andre Aamodt (Super G) made like Stein Eriksen in 1952.
Led by Bonnie Blair's victories at 500 and 1,000 meters in speed skating, women won all five gold medals collected by the U.S. Blair was joined by figure skater Kristi Yamaguchi, freestyle skier Donna Weinbrecht and short track speed skater Cathy Turner.