Top 10: U.S. Winter Olympic moments 

We take a look at the best moments from Winter Olympics past, preferring to leave 2010 untouched for now. As the list boiled down, some athletes missed the cut, such as Eddie Eagan, Bill Johnson, Phil Mahre, Dorothy Hamill, Kerrigan/Harding, Sarah Hughes, Shani Davis and Shaun White. All worthy of remembering, but these moments stood out even more:

10. Peggy Fleming
The graceful figure skater won the United States’ lone gold medal in the 1968 Games and launched a generation of successful skaters. But her gold also signified a change in fortune after a 1961 plane crash killed the U.S. figure skating team.

9. Dick Button
Button became the first American to win a gold in figure skating, capturing the top spot in 1948 and ’52. In 1948, he became the first skater to perform the double axel in competition. Four years later he introduced the triple toe loop.

8. Brian Boitano
He won the Battle of the Brians with Canadian Brian Orser in 1988, thanks in part to landing eight triple jumps — and two triple axels and a triple-triple combination. Boitano won by a narrow margin.

7. Jill Bakken & Vonetta Flowers
They came out of nowhere to capture the United States’ first-ever bobsledding gold at the 2002 Games in Salt Lake City. Bakken was a national guardsman, while Flowers became the first black athlete to win a gold in the Winter Olympics.

6. Shea Family
In 1932, speed-skater Jack Shea became the first athlete to win two gold medals in one Winter Olympics. But he was killed two weeks before grandson Jimmy became the first American to win a gold in the skeleton in 2002.

5. Bonnie Blair
Blair won America’s hearts with her attitude while slaying her speed-skating opponents. She won gold in the 500- and 1,000-meter races in 1994 and was named the Associated Press’ Female Athlete of the year. She also swept the races in 1992.

4. Dan Jansen
Perhaps the most emotional individual moment occurred when Jansen captured the gold in 1994. Hours after learning of his sister’s death in 1988, the heavy favorite fell in both the 500 and 1,000 meters. He fell again four years later before winning the 1,000-meter race in his final Olympics.

3. Eric Heiden
Heiden dominated his sport, winning gold medals in all five men’s speed skating races at the 1980 games. No skater before or since has won all five events, let alone in a single Olympics. He also set a world record and four Olympic records.

2. 1960
If not for 1980, this would be the most-remembered U.S. hockey squad. During the height of the Cold War, they, too, won on U.S. soil at Squaw Valley, Calif. They defeated the Soviet Union in the semifinals and Czechoslovakia in the finals for their first Olympic gold.

1. Miracle on Ice
Nearing the end of the Cold War, the U.S. hockey team captivated the nation with a stunning 4-3 upset of the Soviet Union in the semifinals, followed by a win over Finland in the finals. Yes, they believed in miracles.

jkeim@washingtonexaminer.com

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John Keim

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