With the 2018 Winter Olympics in South Korea almost here, billions of fans from all over the world are ready to cheer on their nations to victory. The Olympics have been going on for more than a century now and over the years, we have seen some truly breath taking and shocking moments.
Whether they are amazing performances, heroic comebacks, or just plain controversial scenarios, the Olympic Games have produced a ton of “wow” moments. Now, this list isn’t about the happiest or best moments, but more about the “biggest” and most talked about incidents in Winter Olympics history. So without any further ado, let’s look at 15 of the most amazing moments in Winter Olympics history.
15. The Nancy Kerrigan and Tonya Harding Drama
This was, by far, the biggest story of the 1994 Olympics and one of the biggest of all-time, and it is about as bizarre a moment in sports that you’ll ever see. About a month before the Olympics in Lillehammer, Noway, American figure skater Nancy Kerrigan was struck in the knee with a rod by an assailant who later turned out to be the ex-husband of fellow skater Tonya Harding. The attack caused serious damage to her leg, putting her Olympic dream in jeopardy. Miraculously, Kerrigan not only recovered in time to compete at the Olympics, but finished in second place winning the silver medal. Harding was somehow also allowed to compete, but she didn’t fare nearly as well, falling during her routine and ending up way out of medal contention.
14. The United States Dominance at the 2010 Games
The 2010 Olympics in Vancouver was a monumental moment for the country of Canada. While the Canadian team won more gold medals than any other team that year, the 2010 Games, as a whole, were dominated by the United States. The US team secured a grand total of 37 different medals, which is the most by any country in the history of the Winter Olympics. Don’t be shocked to see the Americans do well in 2018 either. Canada will once again be hoping for a strong showing, after winning 10 gold medals (and 25 overall) in Sochi in 2014.
13. Jenny Jones wins Bronze in Sochi in 2014
Yes, an athlete winning a bronze medal is appearing on this list. But she deserves it. Great Britain has been participating in the Winter Olympics since 1924, but as a nation they have struggled on the snow. In most years, the Great Britain team comes away empty handed in the winter. From 1952 in Olso to 1992 in Albertville, the country only managed to win five medals (all gold though). They were shut out completely in 2006 and 2010 too.
So when Jenny Jones came third in the snowboarding slope style event in 2014, the entire nation went crazy. In fact, if you listened to the BBC broadcast of the event, the commentators simply couldn’t contain their excitement towards what had just happened. You’d have thought Jones won gold!
12. Sale and Pelletier Finally Get the Gold They Deserve
At the 2002 Olympics in Salt Lake City, Canadian figure skaters Jamie Sale and David Pelletier had one of the best runs we have ever seen. It was near flawless, and many people thought they had the gold medal locked up. However, when the judges announced their scores, the Canadians came second to the Russians, who had a much worse run by all accounts. Eventually, it was proven that a judge was bribed and coerced into giving the gold to the Russians. The Canadians were eventually given the gold medal that they had deserved all along.
11. Franz Klammer Ignites the Crowd With World Record Speed
At the 1976 Olympics games in Austria, all eyes were on the final in the downhill skiing event. Franz Klammer (an Austrian hero and the favourite to win the whole event) had to have the run of his life to beat the defending Olympic champ Bernhard Russi of Switzerland. The course was extremely icy and dangerous, but that didn’t affect Klammer at all. He put fear out of his mind and skied faster than anyone ever had, edging his rival by just 0.33 seconds and winning the gold medal. The crowd went absolutely bananas and he actually needed police protection to navigate through the thousands of enthusiastic fans cheering for him.
10. The 1988 Jamaican Bobsled Team
This is one of the best “feel good” stories in the history of the Winter Olympics. The Jamaican Olympic team made their Winter Games debut at the 1988 games in Calgary, and stole the show when they qualified their bobsled team, of all sports. Despite not being very prepared (compared to other teams) and suffering a crash in the event, the Jamaican bobsled team was loved by everyone. Just the fact they made it to biggest stage was outstanding. The story was immortalized in the film Cool Runnings (although the movie had significant changes from real life). In 2018, the women’s bobsled team from Jamaica are going to follow in their footsteps, as they have qualified for the Olympics.
9. The 2002 Great Britain’s Women’s Curling Team Takes the Gold
Curling has been growing in popularity recently, but back in 2002 it wasn’t that popular of a sport outside of maybe Canada and Scotland. However, the women’s team from Great Britain captured the hearts and admiration of a nation with their run in Salt Lake City. Despite being a team out housewives, the team would go on to win the gold medal. While that is great, it meant more to Great Britain than any medal in recent memory. This is because it was actually their first gold medal at the Winter Olympics in 22 years (and only the eighth gold medal for Great Britain in Winter Olympic history). So these five ladies (Rhona Martin, Deborah Knox, Fiona MacDonald, Janice Rankin, Margaret Morton) made history for their country.
8. Torvill and Dean at the 1984 Olympics
Ice dancing is usually not one of the most popular events at the Olympics, but something happened in 1984 that changed that. Jayne Torvill and Christopher Dean (a British couple) had more than 24 million people watch them score the maximum amount of points in an ice dancing performance, en route to winning the gold medal. It is incredibly hard to get a single perfect score, let alone a perfect score from each and every judge in attendance. Their starting pose on the ice went on to become the defining image of the whole event, which is incredibly impressive.
7. Steven Bradbury Wins The Unlikely Gold Medal in Salt Lake City
When you think of Australia, their skill at the Winter Olympics is probably among the last things you would think about. While often you would be right (they’ve only won 12 medals in 18 different Winter Games dating back to 1936), that wasn’t the case during the 1,000m speed skating final in 2002.
Steven Bradbury was a veteran speed skate, having already competed in the 1992, 1994 and 1998 Winter Games, but he was not a favourite to win the event. In fact, he only made the finals after finishing third in his quarterfinal heat when defending world champ Marc Gagnon was disqualified. In the semifinal, Bradbury was in last place when a three-person crash allowed him to cruise to victory. Miraculously, the same thing happened in the final race, as the leaders crashed on the final corner. Bradbury was 15 meters behind at the time, but easily crossed the finish line for a spectacular and unexpected gold medal win — the first gold medal in Australia’s history at the Winter Olympics.
6. Eric Heiden Sweeps the Competition in 1980
The Olympics is home to some of the best athletes on the planet, and getting a single win is hard. However, every now and then, you have one individual who puts on an absolute clinic and simply dominates the competition, no matter what. Well, that is exactly what American speed skater Eric Heiden did at the 1980 Olympics in Lake Placid. He won a whopping five gold medals and got the win in each and every speed skating event, from the long track to the short track. In the process he set one world record and four Olympic records, which is mind-blowing. He made it look so easy and this is without a doubt one of the most dominant Olympic performances of all time.
5. Alexandre Bilodeau Wins The First Hometown Gold For Canada
While sports fans outside Canada might not know much about Alexandre Bilodeau, he is a national hero in the Great White North and will be for the rest of his life. When he won the gold medal in Men’s Moguls at the 2010 Olympics in Vancouver, he became the first Canadian to ever win a gold medal on home soil (after the country failed to land a single gold medal in Calgary 1988, their previous time hosting). After winning, the video of him celebrating with his brother (who suffers from cerebral palsy) led to millions of happy tears being shed all over the country. He went on to defend his gold in Sochi 2014 before retiring from professional skiing.
4. Hermann Maier With the Comeback of the Century
Injuries are no joke and several Olympic dreams have been shattered as a result of unfortunate falls or injuries. That is exactly what it look like happened to Australian skier Hermann Maier in Nagano 1998. During his first run, he suffered a horrific fall that was so bad that many people thought he was paralyzed and might never walk again. Not only did he walk again, but he went on to win two gold medals only a few days after his awful injury. This was incredibly surprising and is a sign of the true grit and determination that exists inside the heart and soul of Olympic athletes.
3. Jim Shea Becomes a Third Generation Olympic Champion
While children often follow after their parents’ footsteps, this one is still crazy to believe. In Salt Lake City 2002, American skeleton racer Jimmy Shea won the gold medal, which made him a third generation Olympic gold medalist, as both his father and grandfather also participated in previous games.
That alone would be an unbelievable fun fact, but it gets crazier. Not only did they all win mange to represent America at the Winter Games, but they all did it in different events! One was in skeleton (Jim), one was a speed skater (grandfather Jack) and the other was a cross-country skier (Jim Sr.). This sort of a thing may never happen again, as it’s incredibly rare to have two gold medal winners in the same family lineage.
2. The Golden Goal
Canadians just smile whenever they hear the following two words: Golden Goal. It might be the most iconic moment in Canadian sports history, even surpassing Paul Henderson’s 1972 Summit Series goal. At the 2010 Olympics in Vancouver, the gold medal game in ice hockey went to overtime between the Canadians and the Americans. The entire nation of Canada sat still and most people can remember exactly where they were when Sidney Crosby scored the overtime goal to give them the gold. Millions of fans leaped to their feet in unison, as Canada had finally regained international hockey supremacy for the first time since 1952.
1. The Miracle on Ice
While the Americans didn’t win gold in 2010 thanks to Sid the Kid, they did come in at the number one spot on this list thanks to The Miracle on Ice.That’s the name given to the semifinal game between the United States and the Soviet Union at the 1980 Games in Lake Placid. The Soviets were heavily favored and their team was made up of highly skilled professionals. They had won five of the last six hockey gold medals. The Americans, whose team was made up of mostly college kids and amateurs, ended up beating the Soviets 4-3 in one of the biggest underdog victories in the history of sports. Of course, the story isn’t complete without a 4-2 win over Finland to secure the gold.