An Indian-American medical student writes:
the interesting thing about the winter Olympics is that a lot of California skater guys are deciding on a whim to enter ice speedskating, and then instantaneously find themselves at highest level of the sport, blowing away the poor Dutch guys who have been training since the age of 2 because they are the only ones who care about the sport. It's a big indicator that speed skating is probably not very competitive, because as you like to say the demographic base of the sport is not very big.
But that's what I like about the Winter Olympics. The Summer Olympics are filled with ultra athletic, freak genetic specimens: over 6 feet tall, massive jaw due to too much endogenous or exogenous growth hormone, ripped with muscles, veins popping out of their neck, bench pressing 300 pounds... and that's just the women.
The winter Olympics are less competitive, and thus most of the people you see are more normal sized with muscular but more typical body builds. Also many of the Winter Olympic events emphasize technique over brute power which tends to be the prized virtue in Summer Olympic events.
There aren't many Indians in the Winter Olympics, but then again there aren't many Indians in the Summer Olympics either.
The old football player Herschel Walker, who was a genuine genetic marvel even in football for his combination of speed and strength, volunteered to be a pusher on the four man bobsled about 15 years ago, but most of the other American bobsledders didn't want him. They might not win any golds, but at least they, a bunch of regular guys, got to go to the Olympics, and the last thing they wanted were rich football players like Walker and Willie Gault, the Olympic sprinter and wide receiver on the famous 1985 Chicago Bears team, taking their places.