The 10 Biggest Winter Olympics Moments of the Past 50 Years
BONNIE BLAIR'S SPEEDSKATING DOMINATION
For three Olympic games, Blair was untouchable in the sport of speed skating. In Calgary, Albertville and Lillehammer, she collected six medals: five gold, one bronze. She medaled in the 500 and the 1,000 every year she competed, winning the top spot in both races in 1992 and 1994. At home, she was lauded as one of the greatest athletes in the world.
THE BATTLE OF THE BRIANS
American Brian Boitano went head-to-head with his greatest competitor, Canadian Brian Orser, at the Calgary Olympics. All eyes were on the two in 1988, as they were both world champions with plenty of skill. Boitano ended up winning gold, but just by a sliver, after Orser didn't include the originally planned triple axel in his routine. Orser went home with the silver.
DAN JANSEN FINALLY WINS GOLD
Speedskater Jansen's gold medal win in 1994 was a long time coming. Favored to win in 1988 in Calgary, he fell short after he found out his sister Jane died of leukemia just hours before he was set to compete. Back on the ice in 1992, he lost once again. But victory finally came in 1994, when he won gold and then picked up his baby daughter — named Jane — for a victory lap around the ice.
HERMANN MAIER OVERCOMES A CRASH
Austrian alpine skiier Maier had his first shot at Olympic gold in Nagano in 1998, but nearly lost it all after he had a massive fall during the downhill race. Not only did that not keep him out of the later competitions, but it didn't keep from succeeding either, as he went on to win gold in the giant slalom and Super-G races.
THE JAMAICAN BOBSLED TEAM'S OLYMPIC DEBUT
The story of the Jamaican bobsled team's journey to the Olympics has been immortalized in pop culture thanks to the film Cool Runnings, and when the real-life team made their debut in 1988 at the Calgary Olympics, it was equally epic. They were the ultimate underdog story, and though they didn't finish (they lost control of their sled and crashed), they had the support of their fellow competitors — a perfect example of the Olympic spirit.
THE PAIRS SKATING CONTROVERSY OF 2002
Canadian pairs skaters Jamie Salé and David Pelletier were feeling the pressure to break their country's gold medal drought in figure skating — no Canadian had won gold in the sport since 1960. And after coming in second in the short program and skating a near-perfect long program, they seemed a shoo-in. But then the judges announced that Russian pair Elena Berezhnaya and Anton Sikharulidze would take home the gold. Salé and Pelletier were visibly upset during the medal ceremony, and the backlash was immediate. Eventually, a French judge admitted that she had been pressured to vote for the Russian team in exchange for an ice dancing vote. After judges and officials were suspended, Salé and Pelletier were awarded the gold medal, too.
LINDSEY JACOBELLI'S FALL
In 2006 in Turin, at thAustrian alpine skiier Maier had his first shot at Olympic gold in Nagano in 1998, but nearly lost it all after he had a massive fall during the downhill race. Not only did that not keep him out of the later competitions, but it didn't keep from succeeding either, as he went on to win gold in the giant slalom and Super-G races.e inaugural women's snowboard cross event, a gold medal seemed like a safe bet for Jacobelli throughout the race, as she maintained a three-second lead over her closest competitor, Swiss snowboarder Tanja Frieden. But on the second to final jump, she attempted a method grab of her board, a move that ultimately led her to fall, which opened up the path for Frieden to pass her. Later on, Jacobelli admitted that the move was a bit of unnecessary showing off.
THE 1980 HOCKEY GOLD MEDAL
Now best known as the "Miracle on Ice," the American men's hockey team defeat of the Soviet Union in the midst of the Cold War is arguably the most iconic Winter Olympic moment in U.S. history. The American team was made up of young amateur players, while the Soviet team already beat American NHL players several times and were defending their gold medal. While it looked as though loss was likely by the second period, the Americans came roaring back during the third and defeated their rivals, 4-3. Just as iconic as the game is commentator Al Michaels' remark at its end: "Do you believe in miracles?! Yes!"
SARAH HUGHES'S SURPRISE GOLD
After she came in second place in Nagano, all eyes were on Michelle Kwan to win gold in the ladies' singles figure skating competition. So imagine the global shock when her fellow American Sarah Hughes, who had placed just fourth in the short program (with Kwan in first), ended up winning the free skate and subsequently, the gold medal. It ended up being five-time world champion Kwan's last shot at an Olympic medal, and she won bronze.
THE NANCY KERRIGAN AND TONYA HARDING SCANDAL
One of the most bizarre Olympic incidents of all time began weeks before the 1994 National Championships for figure skating, when frontrunner Nancy Kerrigan was clubbed in the knee by a then-unknown assailant. Later, it was revealed that the assault had a connection to her competitor Tonya Harding's ex-husband, Jeff Gillooly. The frenzy around the incident and Harding's connection to it was all anyone could talk about in the buildup to the Lillehammer Olympics, which saw Kerrigan win the silver and Harding land in eighth place. Harding was later banned from the sport due to her role in the attack.