Friday the 13th fell during the Olympics three times in the last 60 years. Each occurrence brought with it eerie (even scary) headlines. Let’s go back in time:
1976 Winter Olympics — Innsbruck Austria — Friday, Feb. 13
American Dorothy Hamill, 19, took the ice with a four-leaf clover pinned to her dress for the women’s free skate*. Before Hamill began her program, she looked into the crowd at the Olympiahalle and saw a sign.
“Which of the West? Dorothy!” it read. Hamill, thinking she was being called a witch, began to cry before she realized the sign was meant as a positive. It was asking which figure skater, Hamill or the Netherlands’ Dianne de Leeuw, could beat East German Christine Errath.
Both did. Hamill won the free skate, as she did the short program, to take gold. De Leeuw got silver ahead of Errath.
1998 Winter Olympics — Nagano, Japan — Friday, Feb. 13
A few noteworthy events took place on the first Friday of the 1998 Winter Games.
Doubles teams of Gordy Sheer and Chris Thorpe and Mark Grimmette and Brian Martin won the first two luge medals in U.S. history, silver and bronze. You may remember Gus Johnson doing the exuberant play-by-play of sliding events that year.
In hockey, an anticipated U.S.-Sweden duel failed to live up to expectations. Peter Forsberg and the Swedes won 4-2, beginning a forgettable Olympics for the U.S. men.
But the scary Friday the 13th of headlines came in Alpine skiing’s downhill. In perhaps the most memorable video of the Games, Austrian Hermann Maier went airborne and crashed through netting. Somehow, he walked away from it, and, three days later, Maier won the super-G. Three days after that, the bricklayer from Flachau won the giant slalom.
2004 Summer Olympics — Athens, Greece — Friday, Aug. 13
On Friday the 13th, the citizens of Athens woke up to haunting news.
The country’s two most famous track and field athletes were in the hospital after a claimed motorcycle accident the previous day. It turned into a full-fledged controversy over skipping a drug test.
Konstantinos Kenteris, the 2000 Olympic champion in the 200 meters, and Katerina Thanou, the 2000 silver medalist in the 100, never competed in the Athens Olympics. A modern-day Greek tragedy, they called it. Kenteris had been the favorite to light the Olympic cauldron that night. Both were disgraced and engulfed in a doping scandal.
Later that night, gold-medal sailor Nikolaos Kaklamanakis had the honors of lighting the cauldron on the only opening ceremony ever staged on Friday the 13th.
*according to USA Today