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Katarina Witt Wins First Gold Medal – February 18, 1984

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Katarina Witt won the first of her two Olympic gold medals at the Winter games in Sarajevo, Bosnia and Herzegovina (formerly Yugoslavia) on February 18, 1984.
Skating for East Germany, Witt was 18 years old. She was competing against Americans Elaine Zayak and Rosalyn Sumners. Zayak won the World Championship in 1982 and Sumners was champion in 1983.

At Sarajevo, Sumner won the compulsories which counted for 30 percent of the total score. Claudia Leistner of West Germany was second in the compulsories and Witt finished third. Zayak placed a distant 13th.

In the next phase, Witt won the short program (They counted for the 20 percent of the total and the long program counted for fifty percent.) Sumner fell to second place overall after placing fifth in the short program, but the gold medal was still within her reach. If either of two judges would have given Sumner another tenth of point for her long program performance, she would won the competition.

In 1988 Witt won the gold medal at the Winter Olympics in Calgary, becoming only the second woman to win back-to-back gold medals in figure skating. Sonja Henie was the first, winning three consecutive gold medals from 1920-1936. Witt attempted a comeback in 1994 and qualified for a spot on the unified German team. At the 1994 Winter Olympics in Lillehammer, Norway she placed seventh.


Lindsey Vonn Wins Downhill Gold – February 17, 2010

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A week before her historic win, she told Matt Lauer on the Today show that she couldn’t even get her injured foot into a ski boot, but with the help of a prescription pain killer to quiet her throbbing shin, a rush of adrenaline, and an inordinate amount of guts, Lindsey Vonn smoked the dangerous hill at Whistler, Brittish Columbia and became the first American Woman to win a gold medal in the Downhill, at the 2010 Winter Olympics.

In one of the most stirring descents in Olympic downhill skiing history, Vonn ignored the pain in her injured shin, chased down Mancuso and caught up to nearly a lifetime of expectations to become the first American woman to win an Olympic downhill gold medal. Read more NY Times.

With some Lidocaine cream numbing the bothersome bruise, some advice from her husband and a heap of skill and confidence, Vonn set everything else aside Wednesday and did what she does better than every other woman in the world: ski fast. Read more

Throbbing or not, the much-reported injury didn’t keep Vonn, a reigning two-time World Cup overall champion, from scoring the Gold in the women’s downhill ski event Wednesday – the first American ever to do so. (Her American teammate Julia Mancuso took the silver.) Read more People Magazine


Sonja Henie Wins 3rd Consecutive Gold Medal – February 15, 1936

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Sonja Henie won the gold medal in Women’s Figure Skating on February 15, 1936, in Garmisch-Partenkirchen, Germany. She is the only woman to ever win three consecutive Olympic skating titles.

At the age of 11 she represented Norway at the 1924 Winter Olympics in Chamonix, France. That year she came in last among a field of eight.

Henie won her first of 10 consecutive World Championships in 1927 and the following hear she won her first Olympic gold medal in St. Moritz, Switzerland. She won again at Lake Placid, New York in 1932.

Skating in Berlin, ahead of the 1936 Winter Olympics, Sonja was told that Hitler and his entourage had been seated. She skated into the rink at full speed, did her sharp little skid stop in front of the Führer, raised her arm and declared, “Heil Hitler.” The crowd went mad. The next day, her compatriots in Scandinavia were distraught, the newspapers asking, “Is Sonja a Nazi?” Her impulsive act was a stain on her white velvet. At the Olympics, a chastened Sonja did not salute, though word that she and her parents had lunched with Hitler at his retreat in the mountains didn’t help matters. According to her brother’s writings, Sonja’s response to the uproar was “I don’t even know what a Nazi is.” Read more


Dorothy Hamill Skates to Gold – February 13, 1976

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Dorothy Hamill cried before the free skate in the Women’s Figure Skating at the Winter Olympics in Innsbruck, Austria, but she managed to keep her composure while she was actually on the ice and was able to deliver a spectacular performance that was good enough to win the gold medal.

Just before it was time for Hamill to take the ice, her nerves got the best of her and tears started to flow. But then she she saw a sign in the stands that read, “Which of the West, Dorothy.” She was touched by the play on words and the show of support. It calmed her nerves and the rest is history.

Today Hamill is probably more famous for her ground breaking hairstyle than for her skating accomplishments.


Shaun White Wins Gold – February 12, 2006

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Shaun White lived up to the hype and won the gold medal in The Half Pipe at the Winter Olympics in Turin, on February 12, 2006.

Less than two weeks before the Turin games, White had won gold medals in the Winter X Games in Aspen, Colorado. He won in both Slopestyle and Superpipe. Winning those events was nothing new for him. He had won Slopestyle and Superpipe in three previous Winter X Games competitions.

By the the time he got to Turin the “Flying Tomato” (because of his long flowing red hair and big ears), in addition to being heavily favored to win the gold, had achieved almost cult status as the “coolest dude on the slopes.”

Competing in his first Olympics, White could only manage the seventh best run in the first round. But he notched the highest score in the second round and that got him into the finals. White took such a commanding lead after the first run of the final round, his win became almost a foregone conclusion. Of greater interest in the second run was whether his teammates Danny Kass and Mason Aguierre would join him on the podium as the silver and bronze medal winners. Kass did wind up winning the silver medal, but Aguirre fell to fourth place behind Markku Koski of Finland.

he gold-medal ride was emblematic of White’s grace — the way he glided over the snow, the way he held his board dramatically in midair, the way he bled consecutive 1080-degree spins into consecutive 900-degree spins, as if they were all part of the same move. The coach of the United States team, Bud Keene, said of White’s ride, “It’s like he was skating.” Read more NYTimes


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