It’s not difficult to name the 5 best U.S. speed skating Olympic gold medalists. Though speed skating doesn’t get much attention in the United States, every four years the athletes in this sport become big stars.
- Eric Heiden Heiden is perhaps the best speed skating gold medalist from any country and was named the 46th best athlete of the twentieth century by ESPN. In 1980, he won gold medals in all five events—500m, 1,000m, 1,500m, 5,000m and 10,000m—and in the process set four Olympic and one world record. He became the first person to win five individual golds in one Olympics.
- Bonnie Blair Blair is one of the most celebrated Olympians in this sport and is easily one of the best speed skating Olympic gold medalists. She won gold in the 500 meters in three different Olympics (1988, 1992 and 1994) and also took gold in the 1,000m in 1992 and 1994. A bronze in the 1,000m in 1988 rounds out her medal count. She was the first American woman to have five gold medals.
- Apolo Anton Ohno Ohno is the only person on this list who made his name in the short track version of speed skating. He is without a doubt one of the five best United States speed skating gold medalists. He took the gold in the 1,500m in 2002 and in the 500m in 2006, beating out difficult competition from Korea in what he called “the perfect race.” He has four bronzes and two silvers under his belt as well.
- Dan Jansen Jansen won only one gold medal during his career, but he was known for being one of the premier skaters in the world for a long duration and for heartbreaking losses he suffered on the world’s biggest stage. However, he is certainly one of the best speed skating Olympic gold medalists. In 1988, he was favored in both the 1,000m and 1,500m, but learned on the day of one of his races that his sister passed away. He fell in two races and did not win any medals until 1994.
- Shani Davis Davis has a reputation for being a misanthrope, but this doesn’t mean he can’t skate rings around most of his competition. He initially qualified for the 2002 games but didn’t compete until 2006 when he won gold in the 1000m and silver in the 1,500m. In the 2010 Winter Olympics, he repeated this feat.
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