There’s more to the Olympics than just gold medals and international glory. If you dig a little deeper you’ll discover some performances that are remembered for ‘different’ reasons. There are some athletes who are happy to just simply take part in one of the world’s great sporting events. Then there are other athletes who are willing to go the extra mile and join the dark side in the pursuit of gold medals and stuffed toy animals. While most Olympics performances can be attributed to hard work and dedication, there are others that are etched in history for other reasons.
We wanted to take a moment to salute those athletes in Winter Olympics history that could make or break your trivia night at the local bowls club.
Many in sports history recognise the United States ice hockey victory over Russia as the “Miracle on Ice”. Few seem to acknowledge Steve Bradbury’s Homer Simpson moment of pure luck. Bradbury came from last place to take home the gold after a crash had wiped out the entire field in the 1000m short track event at the 2002 Olympics. He adds weight to the theory that nice guys can finish first.
Eddie the Eagle
If you hadn’t seen the movie there’s a good chance that you may not know the story of Eddie Edwards. Eddie “the Eagle” Edwards represented Great Britain at the 1988 Olympic Games. To put his achievement in perspective he was the first since 1928. The British were simply never meant to fly through the air at great heights, but that didn’t stop Eddie. Eddie could jump, he just couldn’t do it very well. While there was daylight between Eddie and the rest of the pack, he did manage to endear himself to the international press for his never say die spirit.
Tonya Harding & Nancy Kerrigan
One of the more well-known rivalries in American sport. Tonya Harding found her place in Olympics history leading into the 1994 Olympics. Harding’s ex-husband organised an attack on her rival Nancy Kerrigan. Kerrigan recovered from the attack and went onto claim a silver medal at the 1994 Olympics at Lillehammer. Harding managed to dodge prison after the games but was kicked out of US figure skating in disgrace.
Jamaican Bobsled Team
Coming from a land with more land than snow you have to have some sympathy for the Jamaican bobsled team. This is truly the ultimate underdog story. The Jamaicans borrowed a bobsled from another team to compete at the 88 Winter Games in Calgary. The guys failed to finish after crashing in qualifying.
If you know the story of snowboarder Lindsey Jacobellis then you could be in the running for the meat tray at the local bowls club. Lindsey will also be remembered for her race in Turin in 2006. She celebrated prematurely and watched as rival claimed gold. Coming into her fourth Olympic Games, Lindsey is hoping to shake-off the bridesmaid tag to claim her first gold medal.
2014 Russian Olympic Team
Russia had its largest Olympic team in 2014 with 232 athletes at the Sochi Games. Unfortunately, it was discovered that Russia had organized a state-sponsored doping program. More than forty Russian athletes were disqualified and 13 were stripped of medals. Subsequently, the vast majority of Russian athletes were banned from the 2018 games. Those that could compete were forced to do as individual athletes.
British Speed Skater Elise Christie
The Steven Bradbury skating gods were not smiling on Elise Christie at the 2014 Sochi Games. Christie was the next big thing in speed skating for Great Britain. Christie was disqualified three times in Sochi four years ago. Across three different races Christie found a way to lose all of them. Things didn’t fare much better four years later for Christie in Korea. The British speed skater crashed out again in the final of the 500m short track event.
Combined Korean Hockey Team
The Korean women’s hockey team became the first in Olympic history field player from both the North and South. The players were brought together two weeks before the Olympics began with a Canadian coach. Unfortunately, the Koreans have struggled to put together a decent performance on the ice, being pummelled 8-0 in their opening game to Switzerland.