John-Charles Bradbury asks:
Scandinavian countries tend to be quite good at most winter sports, which is no surprise given their climate; however, no Scandinavian athlete has won a figure skating medal since 1936.
There's some data at the link. The natural microeconomic hypothesis is to cite David Friedman's work on warm houses in cold climates, and vice versa. Sweden has ice lots of the year, so it's (maybe) less valuable to build ice arenas. That would mean you can skate for only part of the year. Warmer nations build more arenas — otherwise their citizens can't skate at all — but then their skaters have year-round access. Perhaps the 1936 shift point comes because, if you go back far enough, no country is building ice arenas.
Since it's harder to build ski facilities in a warm climate, this effect is concentrated on skating.
I don't have any evidence for this mechanism, it is simply the economic argument which comes to mind. Do you have better ideas or relevant evidence on this question? From which states do the U.S. gold medal skaters come from? How ice-bound are those states? How involved were the fathers in the education and training of the female gold medalists?