Friday 5 – Winter Olympics

As Weller pointed out on Wednesday, I was recently informed that I got a job with the Winter Olympics in Vancouver.  I’m going to be headed out there either on January 25th or February 4th (they’ll let me know tomorrow) and I’ll be back on March 3rd unless they keep me around for the Paralympics which take place immediately after the Olympics.  I will be a “Venue Systems Manager” (OoooOOOOoooo) which means I’ll be in charge of the transportation of athletes and media from the Olympic Village to the venue.  Basically I’ll be making sure that all the buses are running on time, carrying all the people they’re supposed to carry, and making sure that everything is ready for them when they step off the bus.  I was also told specifically, “This is a stressful job.”

But I was also told that it’s a blast and I’ll be meeting all kinds of people from all over the world, which excites me.  I do plan on taking my laptop, though I don’t know if I’ll have internet access or how much time I’ll have to give updates, but I’ll try my best.  Now onto the Friday 5.

I’ve decided that in honor of the upcoming Winter Olympics I should use the Friday 5 to go over the top moments in the history of the winter games.  Let’s get started.

5. Eddie the Eagle soars over Calgary

In 1984, British downhill skier Eddie “The Eagle” Edwards barely missed the cut for Britain’s Olympic team.  In order to greatly improve his chances at the Calgary Olympics in 1988, he converted to ski jumping.  This qualified him by default because Britain did not have a ski jumping team.  Edwards finished last in both the 70m and 90m competitions but his legend grew exponentially.  Because of his newly acquired celebrity status, Edwards appeared on the Johnny Carson Show and is the only athlete ever mentioned by name in the closing ceremonies of the games.  The IOC didn’t like him as much and the the entrant policies were toughened immediately following those Games.  Edwards never qualified for another Olympics.

4. Dan Jansen

In 1988, American speed skater Dan Jansen was favored to win gold at the Olympics in Calgary.  Unfortunately, in the morning hours before his race he received a call saying that his sister was dying of leukemia.  She would not make it to see that afternoon.  Jansen decided to race anyway, but he fell just 10 seconds into it.  A few days later he would begin his 1000m race in world record time, but again would fall leaving him with no medals.  In 1992, he would be favored yet again.  He would finish 4th in the 500m and would fall in the 1000m race and would once again leave the Olympics without a medal.  In 1994, Jansen was yet again the favorite to win the gold in the 500m race as he was the only skater in history to break 36 seconds and he did so four times.  He would finish 8th.  Jansen then went into his final event, the 1000m, thinking he would never win an Olympic medal but instead he set a world record en route to winning the gold.  He would dedicate the medal to his late sister.

3. Jamaican bobsled team

If you’ve ever seen the movie Cool Runnings then you know the story of the Jamaican bobsled team.  The real team made their debut in the 1988 Calgary Olympics after they were discovered by two Americans, George B. Fitch and John Candy during a “pushcart” race in their homeland.  No, it’s not the same John Candy who acted in the movie.  The four original members were actually in the Jamaican Army (Jamaica has an army?  Who knew) and were chosen because they were fast.  They did not finish the race in Calgary but they inspired their entire country.  The Jamaicans plan to have another bobsled team compete in Vancouver.

2. Philip Boit and Bjørn Dæhlie

Philip Boit was the first Kenyan ever to compete in the Winter Olympics when he competed in the cross-country skiing event in Nagano in 1998.  Bjørn Dæhlie was a Norwegian cross-country skier who would finish his Olympic career with eight gold and four silver medals.  He is considered to be one of, if not the greatest cross country skier of all time.  The two were on opposite ends of the spectrum in life and in the sport but during the 10 meter classic race in Nagano, their paths would cross.  Dæhlie had just won the event in 27:24:5 and Boit would finish in last place, 92 out of 92.  The medal ceremony would have to be delayed, however, as Dæhlie waited at the finish line for Boit in order to give his fellow skier a hug and congratulate him.  Boit would be so moved by the gesture that he would name one of his sons Dæhlie Boit.

1. Miracle On Ice

It’s not always about winning or losing…but sometimes it is.  This one is a no brainer.  You know the story.  It’s the height of the Cold War and the Soviet Union was dominating the world hockey scene.  The USA had a ragtag bunch of college kids and a genius head coach in Herb Brooks.  The kids would go on to pull the greatest upset in sports history by upending the Soviets 4-3, prompting Al Michaels’ famous call:

To me, that is the greatest sports moment of all time.

Also, it seems that most Olympic videos must be accompanied by cheesy music so if nothing else, I hope you enjoyed that.  I also think the Dan Jansen video was made by a youth group for church but it was only one I could find in English.

7 Responses

  1. What!?! No Tonya and Nancy or Brian Boytano (sp.?)!?! I think I’m more of a summer olympics guy, but I do love snowboarding. I hope anyone but Shaun White wins… Have fun up there, I’m sure it’ll be a good experience.

    • Haha, yeah, I thought to myself, “What would Brian Boitano do?” and that’s where this list came from.

      Really, though, this was pretty hard to do. Eric Heiden, Happay Harada, and Hermann Meier all should’ve been on here. Eddie the Eagle made it on the strength of his awesome glasses.

      I’m a fan of the snowboarding too, one my favorite Olympic moments was when Ross Powers, Danny Kass, and Jarret Thomas swept the halfpipe competition in Salt Lake City.

      And thanks, I’m really excited to go up there. I’ve obviously never done anything like this before, but it should be great.

  2. Southpark made Boitano even funnier than I thought he’d ever be.

    That was a standout snowboard moment, but it looks like everybody else has caught up.

    I was a little too young for Heiden, born in 81, but I’ve seen the footage a few times!

    One of my favorite snow sports when I was growing up was the cross country biathalon. I guess I just liked shooting the rifle more than anything!

  3. Chappy – don’t let him fool you! He’s too young for Heiden (and the Miracle on Ice) as well.

    Bryan – what about Mary Lou Retton and her 10? Or Kerri Strug landing her vault on a broken ankle? Or (you knew somebody had to say it) Michael Phelps winning his final gold? The Dream Team?

    Okay, you’ve picked some really awesome ones. I remember watching the Salt Lake snowboarding events with you and getting all excited about it. You know I even watch diving with gusto. All this adds up to this: I AM SO EXCITED FOR YOU!!!

    (You could do your next Friday Five about horrific Olympic injuries, as I’m sure there are a ton. Greg Louganis vs. the Diving Platform, for example).

    • All great moments that you picked, Erin, but they’re all Summer Olympics. These were freezing temperatures only.

  4. Excellent post! Great tune up for the Winter Olympics as well. I didn’t know many of the back stories you posted. The cross country skiing competition brought tears to my eyes. What a classic example of true sportsmanship. Something that seems to have been lost on all-too-many of our present day athletes.

    Have a GREAT time in Vancouver!!!

  5. Oops. Fail. I’m sure I could come up with some Winter Olympics only.

    Like… when France’s Surya Bonali couldn’t qualify for a medal (points-wise) in the figure skating competition, but she had to perform anyway, so she ditched the rules and did a crowd-pleasing free skate that included the Olympics’ first on-ice backflip (by a woman or otherwise!)

    She was reprimanded by the IOC for that, but it sure was cool to watch!

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