Vancouver Olympics

eric heiden, eric heiden lake placid, eric heiden gold, eric heiden 1500
Associated Press
Eric Heiden skates to victory in the 1500-meter speed skating event, Feb. 21, 1980.

No. 2: Eric Heiden Wins Five Golds

Eric Heiden became the first person ever to win five individual gold medals at a single Olympics when he swept the men’s speed skating events at the 1980 Lake Placid Games. Heiden, a University of Wisconsin student who went on to become an accomplished orthopedic surgeon, was unmoved by his awards.

“Heck, gold medals, what can you do with them?” he remarked. “I'd rather get a nice warmup suit. That's something I can use. Gold medals just sit there. When I get old, maybe I could sell them if I need the money.”

“Whether of not Eric Heiden knows it—cynics in the crowd thought they spotted a disingenuous lightness in Heiden's casual dismissal of history—he has created a fuss, for this doctor's son from the Midwest is an alchemist on skates, the first man ever to turn ice into gold,” wrote Dave Kindred in The Washington Post.

Most Recent Features