A look back at the best and worst moments of past Winter Olympics.
- Debbie Emery, BettyConfidential.comEvery four years, dreams are both made and shattered on the snow-covered slopes and glass-smooth ice rinks of the Winter Olympics. As we watch a new set of unforgettable memories being made at the games in Vancouver, BettyConfidential brings you the most memorable Winter Olympic moments from the past.
The Miracle on Ice
The USA hockey team's unbelievable win over the Soviets in the semi-final in 1980 in Lake Placid, NY, is considered by many to be the greatest moment in Olympic history. It came during a period when recession was hitting the American people and the government was battling an international political crisis with both the Soviet Union and Iran. The U.S. hit the ice as heavy underdogs against a fierce Soviet team that included many players who were in active duty in the Red Army as part of the Cold War. Against all the odds, goalie Jim Craig expertly defended Soviet attacks on the net leading to a game-winning goal by Mike Eruzione that not only led his team to a 4-3 victory, but lifted the spirit of the whole country, causing commentator Al Michaels to utter his famous line: "Do you believe in miracles? YES!"Torvill & Dean: The Perfect Pair
British ice skaters Christopher Torvill and Jane Dean won the hearts of the world with their romantic routine to Ravel's Bolero during the Sarajevo Olympics in 1984. The first 18 seconds of the pair's breathtaking performance involved a sensual melding of bodies that broke all figure skating rules but earned them a perfect score (and a letter of congratulations from the Queen!) Fittingly, Torvill and Dean, who were not a couple off the ice, performed their ice dance on Valentine's Day.
Eddie the Eagle Loses It All
Bespectacled Brit Eddie Edwards looked more like an overgrown Harry Potter than an Olympic athlete, but that didn't stop him from literally catapulting to fame in the ski jump competition during the 1988 games in Calgary. Unlike most competitors who make their name by winning gold, Eddie didn't win any medals at all - and actually came dead last in both the 70- and 90- meter jumps. Despite his ineptitude on the slopes, The Eagle's lack of skill and goofy Mr. Magoo glasses made him the most popular contestant that year, and even led the International Olympic Committee to change their rules to prevent such loveable losers from qualifying in the future.
What Would Brian Boitano Do?
The 1988 male figure skating competition in Calgary will forever be known as the Battle of the Brians due to the dramatic face-off between U.S. skater Brian Boitano and Canadian rival Brian Orser. Both Brians were tied for first place entering the final freestyle stage until Boitano wowed the judges with a flawless routine that included eight triple jumps, two axels and a triple-triple combination. Orser, on the other hand, made a small mistake on a jump and skipped his intended second triple axel, leaving him sulking with silver and Boitano celebrating with gold.
You may have thought that the 1993 film Cool Runnings starring John Candy was just a silly comedy but it is actually (if somewhat loosely) based on the true story of the first ever Jamaican bobsled team and their quest for Olympic glory. Yes, that's right - bobsledding in the snowless Caribbean, it may sound ridiculous but they say that fact is funnier than fiction. The team was originally formed by two Americans who visited the island, were inspired by a local pushcart derby race and vowed to transform the competitors into Olympic bobsled stars. While the team was applauded more for the novelty of their tropical origins than their speed, they quickly became fan favorites at the 1988 Calgary games. Even after crashing during one of the four runs, they got out of their sled and walked to the end of the course amidst a round of applause.
Nancy Kerrigan and Tonya Harding Face Off
The dramatic events involving this pair actually took place seven weeks before the 1994 Lillehammer games, when Nancy Kerrigan was hit in the knee with a baton at the National Figure Skating Championships in an attack planned by Tonya Harding's ex-husband. Kerrigan's cries of "Why, Why?" echoed on endless news coverage of the incident and she rapidly became America's darling and won a spot on the Olympic team, as did Harding. At the games, the golden girl came up trumps as Nancy finished second while bad seed Harding fell during her routine.
Hermann Maier's Amazing Comeback
Dubbed "the Herminator," Austrian alpine skier Hermann Maier crashed into infamy at the 1998 games in Nagano when he flew off the sunlit course during a downhill run and landed hard on his head. Although the crowd held their breath fearing he wouldn't get up at all, Hermann proved he was as tough as his namesake by not only walking away unscathed, but also going on to win gold medals in both the slalom and Super-G just days later.
Tell us: What's your favorite Winter Olympics moment?
Debbie Emery is a Los Angeles-based writer who specializes in health and fitness.
To read more from BettyConfidential: