Apolo Ohno

Steven Bradbury
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Rewind: Australia’s Steven Bradbury gains gold and lasting fame after pileup takes out Apolo Ohno

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Heading into the 2002 Winter Olympics, young American Apolo Ohno was a phenom with a legitimate shot at multiple medals in short-track speedskating.

The 1999 world junior champion and future “Dancing with the Stars” champion had finished first in the World Cup season standings in all three individual disciplines in the 2000-01 season. In the 2001 world championships, he took gold in the relay and the 3,000m (a non-Olympic event), silver in the 1,000m and fourth in the 1,500m.

Australia’s Steven Bradbury was at the other end of his career, enduring all sorts of misfortune in the years that followed — a 1995 accident in which he needed more than 100 stitches after a skate blade sliced his thigh, then a 2000 accident in which he broke two vertebra in his neck. 

The highlights of Bradbury’s career were relay world championships medals — gold in 1991, bronze in 1993, silver in 1994. He and his relay teammates also took Olympic bronze in 1994.

Bradbury barely advanced to one individual final, the 1,000m in 2002. He advanced from the quarterfinal when Canadian favorite Marc Gagnon was disqualified. He advanced from the semifinal when multiple skaters fell.

In the final, Bradbury was matched up against three outstanding skaters, including Ohno and Li Jiajun of China, who won this event and the overall title at the 2001 world championships. Ohno and Li had finished 1-2 in the 1,000m World Cup standings in 2001.

Bradbury couldn’t keep up. The other four skaters were in a pack, making dangerous passes among each other, while Bradbury fell further and further behind.

Those dangerous passes finally caught up to the rest of the field in the final turn. Li bumped into Ohno, which would lead to Li’s disqualification. After the lead pack jockeyed for position through the entire race, all four tumbled to the ice.

Bradbury, the last man standing, crossed the finish line first.

 

From the tangled pile-up, Ohno managed to fling himself, skate-first, across the finish line to take silver. Canada’s Mathieu Turcotte made it across for bronze.

Ohno wasn’t done in Salt Lake City. He won the 1,500m gold after the disqualification of Kim Dong-Sung, a controversial decision that made Ohno the object of South Korean derision.

Less controversially, Ohno won three more individual world championship events from 2005 to 2009, plus two relay golds, and the overall world title in 2008. In the Olympics, he took six more medals, including gold in the 500m in 2006 and silver in the 1,500m in 2010.

Bradbury missed the finals in the other two events in Salt Lake City, but his name lives on in the Urban Dictionary and elsewhere as a synonym for an improbable and even accidental victory. He embraced his unique place in history to carve out a career as a motivational speaker delivering more than 1,000 speeches in 19 countries, according to the International Skating Union and has even seen his win commemorated in Legos.

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Salt Lake City civic leaders and athletes band together for possible bid to host Olympics again

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Olympic medalists Eric Heiden, Apolo Ohno, Shannon Bahrke, Derek Parra and Noelle Pikus-Pace are among the members of a large committee to prepare Salt Lake City and Utah for a possible bid for the 2030 or 2034 Winter Olympics.

Salt Lake City, which hosted the 2002 Games, is not yet officially in the running for the Games, but it will be the candidate if the U.S. bids.

The Salt Lake City-Utah Committee for the Games will be led by a couple of business leaders — retired Rocky Mountain Power president/CEO Cindy Crane is the chair, while Sorenson Capital managing director Fraser Bullock is the committee’s president/CEO. The vice chairs are leaders of Utah’s top sports organizations — Jeff Robbins of the Utah Sports Commission and Colin Hilton of the Utah Olympic Legacy Foundation. 

All of the areas that have expressed interest in hosting the 2030 Games have hosted the Olympics in the past. The first official bid is 1972 Winter Olympic host Sapporo, Japan. Barcelona, which hosted the 1992 Summer Olympics, is bidding to follow Beijing in hosting the Winter Olympics after hosting the Summer Games.

Salt Lake City may be at a disadvantage in bidding for the 2030 Olympics because Los Angeles is hosting the Summer Olympics two years prior. Continental rotation isn’t a certainty, though, with Asia hosting both the 2020 (Tokyo) and 2022 (Beijing) Olympics.

Utah Gov. Gary Herbert and recently elected Salt Lake Mayor Erin Mendenhall unveiled the committee Wednesday in the Utah State Capitol Building.

“This committee is an important next step for Utah, as the state of sport, to show that we continue to be ready, willing and able to play host to a future Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games,” Herbert said.

“We are ready to welcome the world again as a returning host of a future Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games,” Mendenhall said. “Our beautiful city has so much to offer our worldwide guests, including the added benefit of our existing Olympic facilities and infrastructure.”

Salt Lake City’s venues are still in consistent use. The Utah Olympic Oval is a popular World Cup stop, where the high altitude contributes to a lot of world records. Utah Olympic Park is an essential training spot for U.S. winter sports athletes, and its sliding track is frequently used for World Cup competitions.

The executive committee includes a current Olympian — short-track speedskater Maame Biney — along with retired speedskater Catherine Raney Norman and Paralympic skiing multimedalist Chris Waddell. The city’s pro teams are also represented by Steve Miller, son on longtime Utah Jazz owner Larry Miller, and Real Salt Lake/Utah Royals owner Dell Roy Hansen.

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Ten memorable Winter Olympic medal moments from 2010s

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NBCSports.com looks back at the 2010s this week. Here are 10 Winter Olympic medal moments that defined the decade …

Vancouver 2010: Lindsey Vonn’s downhill title, finish-area scream
Everything was lining up for the U.S.’ biggest ski star going into what was being billed as the “Vonncouver Olympics.” Lindsey Vonn was the two-time reigning World Cup overall champion, the reigning world championships gold medalist in the downhill and super-G and winner of five of the six World Cup downhills that season. Then came a setback, a bruised shin in slalom training 10 days before the Games that caused “excruciating” pain when putting on a ski boot. She lucked out as weather pushed the start of competition back three days. Vonn got her downhill gold, becoming the first U.S. woman to win the event. “I’ve given up everything for this,” she said on NBC.

Vancouver 2010: Shaun White lands Double McTwist 1260 for repeat gold
Having already clinched a repeat Olympic title, White could have used his second run in the final as a victory lap and simply slid down Cypress Mountain. Instead, he reached into his bag of tricks for what he called the Tomahawk, named after a 30-ounce T-bone steak he had recently devoured. White threw down the Double McTwist 1260 at the last Olympics he would be known as the Flying Tomato with flowing red locks.

Vancouver 2010: Apolo Ohno becomes most decorated U.S. Winter Olympian
With three medals at his third Olympics, Ohno broke Bonnie Blair‘s U.S. record for career Winter Olympic medals. The short track speed skater finished with eight total, tacking on a silver and two bronze medals in Vancouver, not far from his Seattle roots. An overweight Ohno had failed to make the 1998 Olympic team when favored at age 15. In 2002, he earned gold after a South Korean disqualification, making him an enemy of the world’s top short track nation. In 2006, he crossed the 500m finish line first in what he called the “perfect race.” After winning “Dancing with the Stars,” Ohno rededicated for one last Olympic push and skated competitively for the last time in Vancouver.

Vancouver 2010: Sidney Crosby’s golden goal
The very last gold medal of the Vancouver Games was the most vital for the host nation. In a U.S.-Canada men’s hockey final, American Zach Parise tied the game with 25 seconds left. Then in overtime, Crosby beat Ryan Miller to set off celebrations nationwide, where Canadians were filling bars and streets to watch the Sunday afternoon contest.

Sochi 2014: Sage Kotsenburg wins slopestyle’s Olympic debut
The first gold medalist of the Sochi Games was truly a surprise. Kotsenburg had gone nine years between slopestyle wins when he won the last U.S. Olympic qualifier that January. But “Second-Run Sage” unleashed a stylish first run in the Olympic final, landing a cab double cork 1260 with a Kotsenburg-invented Holy Crail grab and a back 1620 Japan Air, trying the latter trick for the first time in his life. He became a media hit, eating a bacon gold medal given to him by Conan O’Brien and listening to President Obama call him “sick and chill” at the White House.

Sochi 2014: Meryl Davis, Charlie White win first U.S. ice dance gold
When Davis and White began skating together in 1997 at ages 9 and 10, they barely spoke to each other the first two years because she was so shy. But from 2009 on, they captured six straight national titles, two world titles and an Olympic medal of every color. None bigger than gold in Sochi in a discipline where the U.S. used to be so weak that reporters took meal breaks at the national championships rather than watch the performances. It would be their final competition.

Sochi 2014: Mikaela Shiffrin becomes youngest slalom gold medalist
Despite a mid-second-run bobble, Shiffrin delivered on pre-Games hype by winning the slalom at age 18. What followed hours later would prove noteworthy for the rest of the decade: In Shiffrin’s late-night press conference, she blurted out that she dreamed of winning five gold medals in 2018. While that did not come to fruition, Shiffrin has gone on to win World Cup races in every discipline, plus Olympic or world titles in giant slalom and super-G. She will likely break the career World Cup wins record early in the next decade.

PyeongChang 2018: Chloe Kim’s back-to-back 1080s for gold
The 17-year-old phenom wasn’t thinking so much about flips and twists before her halfpipe runs, but ice cream and churros, as she tweeted during the competition. Before the celebratory desserts, Kim landed her signature combination — back-to-back 1080s, which no other woman has done. That was plenty enough for a rider who posted the two top scores in qualifying and the two top scores in the final. Then David Chang made her some churro ice cream sandwiches.

PyeongChang 2018: U.S. women’s hockey team edges Canada in shootout
Didn’t seem anything could top the Sochi Olympic final, where Canada tied it in the final minute (after a U.S. empty-net attempt clanged off the post) and won in overtime. Then came the shootout in South Korea. Twins Monique Lamoureux-Morando and Jocelyne Lamoureux-Davidson starred, three months after it looked like they could be cut from the team. The latter scored the winner on a deke she named, “Oops, I did it again,” after the Britney Spears song. The U.S. earned its first hockey gold medals since the 1998 team in the Olympic debut of women’s hockey.

PyeongChang 2018: Marit Bjoergen ends career with 15 medals, most decorated Winter Olympian
The last medal awarded at an Olympics this decade went to arguably the greatest Olympian of the decade. The Norwegian cross-country skier (and mother) broke countryman Ole Einar Bjoerndalen‘s career Winter Olympic medals record in PyeongChang, capped by taking the grueling 30km freestyle by 109 seconds, the largest margin for any Olympic cross-country race in 38 years. It would be Bjoergen’s last career race.

Honorable Mention: Vancouver 2010: U.S. four-man bobsled, Yuna Kim, Evan Lysacek. Sochi 2014: Ole Einar Bjoerndalen, Russian team figure skating, Noelle Pikus-Pace. PyeongChang 2018: U.S. men’s curling. Ester LedeckaJessie Diggins/Kikkan Randall.

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