In the run-up to the Sochi Olympics, NBC Sports has compiled a list of the 19th greatest U.S. Winter Olympians, including Kristi Yamaguchi, Apolo Ohno and Michelle Kwan.
NBC said the list, given in alphabetical order, was based on two criteria — “the quantitative approach, which in sports means adding up personal statistics, victories and, in the case of the Olympics, medals” and “the imprint the athlete left on history in other, less tangible ways.” Following are excerpts from the list.
• “Yamaguchi, who grew up idolizing Dorothy Hamill, held off her Olympic roommate, Nancy Kerrigan, to win figure skating gold at the 1992 Albertville Games.” (Hamill and Kerrigan are also on the list.)
• “Kwan is arguably the best U.S. women’s figure skater of all time despite never winning Olympic gold. She took silver at the 1998 Nagano Games and bronze in the 2002 Salt Lake Games to go along with her five World Championship titles.”
• “The most decorated U.S. Winter Olympic athlete ever, the three-time Olympian [Ohno] was among the world’s best in his short-track career, winning eight medals, including two golds.”
Rounding out the list are Bonnie Blair, speed skating; Brian Boitano, figure skating; Dick Button, figure skating; Shani Davis, speed skating; Peggy Fleming, figure skating; Scott Hamilton, figure skating; Chad Hedrick, speed skating; Eric Heiden, speed skating; Dianne Holum, speed skating; Bode Miller, alpine skiing; Jenny Potter and Angela Ruggiero, women’s hockey; Cathy Turner, short track; Shaun White, snowboarding.
“P&G & Walmart Tribute to American Legends of the Ice,” to be broadcast by NBC Sports on Saturday, Feb. 1, at 2:30 p.m., will feature Yamaguchi (as host), Kerrigan, Boitano, Hamilton and other skating stars.
Yamaguchi, Ohno, Hamilton and Hamill are also on the cover of the Jan. 19 issue of Parade magazine. The headline: “Blades of Glory: Four legends of the ice chat about this year’s Winter Games, their own Olympic memories, and life off the rink.”
Yamaguchi’s top Olympic memory: “The moment I won, and sharing the elation with my coach. But I also remember skating off the ice, thinking, ‘Is that my Olympic moment? Can I do it again? But, no, I don’t want to do it again.’ That’s the emotion that shocked me most – the relief that it was over.”
Yamaguchi turned professional after the 1992 Winter Olympics and toured for many years with Stars on Ice. Among other accomplishments, she established the Always Dream Foundation to serve underprivileged children; authored two children’s books; served as a skating analyst for NBC; won the championship on ABC’s “Dancing with the Stars”; and created Tsu-ya, a line of women’s active wear.
Ohno on transitioning from the Olympics to normal life: “Probably the single most difficult thing for any athlete, and it’s ongoing. You are the best at your sport, but it’s not like you’re going to leave short-track speed skating and be the best at business. What has helped me is applying the attitudes that made me successful as an athlete to obstacles in normal life. My motto is, ‘Try to live with zero regrets.'”
Ohno and Hamilton will serve as analysts at Sochi.
In addition, Yamaguchi’s interview with Parents magazine was posted Jan. 21 on Goodyblog. She spoke about her favorite Olympic memories, keeping herself and her daughters (Keara, 10, and Emma, 8) healthy, and her work for the 2014 Olympics with Team Kellogg’s.
During the past few weeks, Yamaguchi also appeared on ABC’s “Good Morning America” to discuss the role that Olympians’ parents play (she is promoting “Thank You, Mom,” a video by Proctor & Gamble), and was interviewed for SI.com, the Sports Illustrated website.