Vancouver Olympics

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Sarah Hughes reacts after completing her long program, Feb. 21, 2002.

No. 9: Sarah Hughes Wins Figure Skating Gold

Heading into the 2002 Olympics, Michelle Kwan and Sasha Cohen carried America’s figure skating hopes, but it was unheralded 16-year-old Sarah Hughes who stole the spotlight. Sitting in fourth place after the short program, she let loose in the long program and performed brilliantly. Sitting in a corner with her coach as her competitors falted, she was shocked and overjoyed when she was told that she won gold.

“An unpretentious kid from Great Neck, N.Y., had not only knocked off the two favorites … but also lifted her sport from the mire of the pairs’ judging scandal by providing the most enduring image of the figure skating competition: her joyous, uninhibited reaction to the news that she'd won,” wrote E.M. Swift in Sports Illustrated.

Watch Hughes win the gold.

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