Thursday, January 30, 2014

This Day in History - Speed Skater Dan Jansen Sets New World Record




With the winter Olympics coming up soon, it seemed fitting that this week's post would be related to sports. In addition, it's the perfect time to celebrate the 20th anniversary of Dan Jansen's Gold Medal performance at the Winter Olympics in Lillehammer, Norway.

On January 30, 1994, American speed skater Dan Jansen set a new world record of 35.76 at the World Sprint Championships in Calgary, Alberta, Canada.

Favored to win in Calgary in 1988, the day of the race, Jansen's sister died of leukemia. After spills in the 500 meter final that day and then again in the 1000 meter a few days later, Jansen left Calgary without a medal. By the end of 1992, however, Jansen was breaking records and making his mark on the sport of speed skating.

"In December 1992, Jansen became the first man ever to skate 500 meters in less than 36 seconds, when he set a new world record mark of 35.92 seconds in Hamar, Norway. The January 30, 1993 finish marked the sixth time that Jansen had either tied or broke the world record in the 500 meters. He had come to dominate that event and the 1,000 meters in international competition, but an Olympic medal still eluded him.

The next Winter Olympics--Jansen’s fourth--were held in 1994, in Lillehammer, Norway. By that time, he had won an overall total of seven World Cup titles and set seven world records. After he slipped in the 500 meter skate, it looked like Jansen’s hopes for Olympic glory might be shattered. When he took to the ice for the 1,000 meter event four days later, however, Jansen turned things around, skating to a world record finish of 1:12.43 to finally win Olympic gold."

After the Lillehammer games, Jansen retired from competition. That same year, Jansen founded the Dan Jansen Foundation, whose "mission is to solicit financial support and distribute funds to charities with an emphasis on the fight against leukemia, which claimed the life of Dan's sister, Jane. The foundation supports youth sports programs, educational and scholarship awards."

You can read more about Dan Jansen's journey to the Gold at http://www.history.com/this-day-in-history/dan-jansen-skates-world-record-500-meters To learn more about the Dan Jansen Foundation, please visit http://www.djfoundation.org/

2 comments:

Patty Woodland said...

I remember those falls...

Cheryl said...

Me too, Patty. It was heartbreaking. I'm so glad he was able to bounce back years later.