We’re gearing up for the 2010 Winter Olympics Feb. 12-28 in Vancouver! First up in a series of features is a look at a few of the big names from past Games, and what they’ve been up to lately:
While the 1994 Lillehammer figure-skating competition — and let’s not kid ourselves, the entire Olympics fortnight — was overwhelmed with the Nancy Kerrigan-Tonya Harding scandal, neither of them took home the gold. That distinction went to the 16-year-old Ukrainian, whose moves on the ice bumped Kerrigan down to silver. Baiul faced her own scandal in 1997 after being arrested for DUI, but still skates professionally. In 2007 she headlined Cold As Ice, a musical that blended skating, song and dialogue, and is hoping to resurrect the show for a Broadway run.
The Jamaican Bobsled Team
What started out as a lark at the 1988 Calgary Olympics turned into a media sensation, capturing the imagination of a worldwide audience fascinated by the idea of a tropical island nation competing in an icy, wintry sport. Not long after the release of Cool Runnings, the Disney movie based on its formation, the team vastly improved its performance, placing a shocking 14th at Lillehammer, beating the U.S., Russia, France and an Italian team. The team is slated to compete at Vancouver with a two-man squad.
Jansen became one of the more sentimental Olympics stories because of the long, emotionally fraught journey he took to the medal stand. Entering the 1988 games as the favored skater, he received word on the day of his 500-meter race that his sister had died from leukemia. He elected to race, and planned to dedicate the win to his sister, but fell before finishing. Four days later, while on a world-record pace in the 1000-meter, he fell again. Disappointing finishes followed in 1992, and during his final Olympics in 1994, he slipped during the 500-meter and missed getting a medal. But in the last race, the 1000-meter, he finally took home the gold and a world record. He now fronts the Dan Jansen Foundation, which supports several charities with an emphasis on fighting leukemia, and is a popular motivational speaker.
Widely regarded as America’s greatest downhill skier, the two-time medalist who took gold by a hundredth of a second in 1998′s Super G also got a lot of attention for her unusual name, which comes from a town near her Idaho birthplace. A rash of injuries hindered her at times in her career, and she retired after the 2002 Salt Lake games. Now 38, the mother of three is involved in children’s charities and has garnered attention by speaking publicly about her decision to undergo the Essure procedure, a permanent form of birth control. She also plans to provide live Olympic updates from Vancouver via Twitter. Twitter.com/Picabo_Street
Tomba la Bomba (Tomba the Bomb) was a star at the 1988, 1992 and 1994 games, taking home five Olympic medals — three gold, two silver — for downhill skiing. Since retiring, he has been involved in acting, starring in the 2000 made-for-TV action flick Alex l’ariete (Alex the Ram) in his native Italy, as well as promoting his own fragrance, Indecente. He’s heavily involved with charities like UNICEF, as well as youth skiing programs. His Facebook page has more than 27,000 fans.