Throughout the decades, IMAGO has archived some of the biggest moments in Winter Olympic history as well as moments that bring some nostalgia for those colorful ski-suits, pompous skating costumes and frozen side-burns. Here are some of the highlights from over the years.
Not many people can say that they had an Olympics nick-named after them, or that their husband went to prison for the sake of a medal, or that they were the first Black woman to win gold in the Winter Games.
When Jean-Claude Killy dominated the 1968 Alpine Skiing events in Grenoble, the media called it ‘The Killympics.’ When figure skater Tonya Harding’s husband hired someone to club competitor Nancy Kerrigan in the knee to keep her off the ice for the 1994 Olympics, Kerrigan took home the silver and Tonya’s husband was sentenced to two years in prison. In 2002, Vonetta Flowers who was initially a track and field athlete ended up bringing team USA to victory along with Jill Bakken in the two-woman Bobsleigh event, as the first Black woman to take home gold in the Winter Olympics.
In 1988 the Winter Games in Calgary received a visit from the Caribbean – the Jamaican Bobsled team made its debut and although they came far from winning any medals, they continued to compete throughout the years. The team also inspired the film Cool Runnings.
There were also those who defeated the odds. Team USA, composed almost entirely of amateur players, beat The Soviet Union who was the favorite to win in what was coined ‘The Miracle on Ice’ during the 1980 Lake Placid games in the height of the Cold War. Team USA then beat Finland in the final and won gold, and the USSR won silver after beating Sweden. In 1988, speed skater Dan Jansen competed in the 500-meter race just hours after his sister’s death. Although he was the favorite to win, he fell during the race but later took home the gold in 1994. Austrian skier Hermann Maier who crashed in the 1998 Nagano Games was thought to be paralyzed, only to come back a few days later and win two gold medals in the Super-G and the Giant Slalom. He was awarded the nickname ‘The Herminator.’
The Herminator wasn’t the only winter Olympian with a nickname: Ski jumper Michael Edwards was known as ‘Edie the Eagle’, Italian skier Alberto Tomba was known as ‘La Bomba’ (the bomb), Franz Klammer as ‘Kaiser Franz’ or the ‘Austrian Astronaut’, and snowboard protege Shaun White ‘The Flying Tomato’ – just to name a few.
IMAGO / WEREK | Cross Country skiing champion Ivar Formo of Norway in the 1976 Olympics in MontrealIMAGO / Pressefoto Baumann | Jean Claude Killy of France in the 1968 Olympics in GrenobleIMAGO / Camera4 | Vonetta Flowers and Jill Bakken of USA winning gold medals in the 2002 Olympics in Salt Lake CityIMAGO / ZUMA Wire | Vonetta Flowers and Jill Bakken of USA winning gold medals in the 2002 Olympics in Salt Lake CityIMAGO / Kosecki | The controversial American figure skater Tonya Harding competing in the 1994 Olympics before which she was banned from competitive skating. Her husband was sentenced to 2 years in prison for planning an assault on competitor Nancy KerriganIMAGO / Laci Perenyi | Tonya Harding in tears asking for a re-skate due to an issue with her skate in the 1994 OlympicsIMAGO / Colorsport | American skater Nancy Kerrigan recovered quickly and competed in the 1994 Olympics. She won silver after a controversial face-off against Ukrainian skater Oksana BaiulIMAGO / PCN Photography | Team USA after beating the USSR in what was called the ‘Miracle on Ice’ in the 1980 Lake Placid Games – the US team composed mostly of amateur playersIMAGO / WEREK | Ski jumper Michael Edwards of Great Britain competing in Calgary in 1988. Although he lost his events, he became a beloved personality in the media and was nicknamed ‘Edie the Eagle.’ IMAGO / Colorsport | Team Jamaica competing in the two-man Bob in Calgary during its unexpected Winter Olympic debut in 1988IMAGO / Sven Simon |Italian skiing champion Alberto Tomba nicknamed ‘La Bomba’ rejoicing after competing in the slalom at the 1988 OlympicsIMAGO / WEREK | Franz Klammer of Austria nicknamed ‘Kaiser Franz’ or ‘The Austrian Astronaut’, competing in the 1972 OlympicsIMAGO / Laci Perenyi | Hermann Maier of Austria nicknamed ‘The Herminator’IMAGO / ZUMA Wire | US snowboarder Shaun White after winning the men’s halfpipe in the 2006 Olympics in Torino. It was his first gold medal of many and he was nicknamed ‘The Flying Tomato.’IMAGO / PCN Photography | US Speed skater Dan Jansen wins his first and only gold medal in the 1,000-meter at the 1994 GamesIMAGO / Colorsport | Gold medalist figure skater John Curry of Great Britain competing in the 1976 Winter Olympics in InnsbruckIMAGO / WEREK | Japanese ski jumper Yukio Kasaya at the 1972 Olympics in Sapporo IMAGO / Sven Simon | Salt Lake City during the 2002 Winter OlympicsIMAGO / Camera 4 | Olympic medalist Apolo Ohno competing in Salt Lake CityIMAGO / United Archives International | Bobsleigh team USA defending gold in the 1932 Olympics in Lake PlacidIMAGO / Laci Perenyi | Bobsleigh team Germany won gold in the 2002 Salt Lake City Games. Germany still dominates Olympic Bobsleigh and won all events in the 2018 Winter OlympicsIMAGO / Norbert Schmidt | Figure Skating Gold medalist Brian Boitano of USA competing against Brian Orser of Canada in what was called ‘The Battle of the Brians’ in the 1988 Calgary OlympicsIMAGO / Colorsport | German Skier Maria Epple competing in the giant slalom in the 1984 Sarajevo OlympicsIMAGO / WEREK | Austrian skier Ernst Vettori taking the lift during the 1988 Games in CalgaryIMAGO / Sven Simon | USA gold medalist Kristi Yamaguchi performing in the 1992 Olympics in AlbertvilleIMAGO / Bildbryan | Rusiate Rogoyawa of Fiji finished in last place in the Cross Country 10km race, 1994 Lillehammer Olympics. It was the second time someone from Fiji competed in the Winter OlympicsIMAGO / PCN Photography | USA Speed Skater Bonnie Blair during the 1992 Albertville Winter Olympics