27 of the most iconic Winter Olympics moments of all time

At the 2002 Olympics in Salt Lake City, Jim Shea became a third generation Olympic champion when he won the gold in men's skeleton for the US.

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At the 2002 Olympics in Salt Lake City, Jim Shea became a third generation Olympic champion when he won the gold in men’s skeleton for the US.
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REUTERS/Juergen Schwarz

  • The 2018 Winter Olympics kick off Friday, February 9, in Pyeongchang, South Korea.
  • The Winter Olympics were first held in France in 1924.
  • Over the years, the Winter Olympics have been filled with incredible athletic feats, as well as mishaps, scandals, and tragedies.

Every four years, the Winter Olympics come around to give athletes all over the world a chance at sporting glory.

Throughout the years, Olympic audiences have seen not only incredible athletic feats, but more than a few mishaps, scandals, and tragedies.

From the underdog story of the 1988 Jamaican bobsled team – which inspired the film, “Cool Runnings” – to the America’s “Forgotten Miracle” hockey win over Canada in the 1960 games, there’s been no shortage of drama.

With the 2018 Pyeongchang Winter Olympics kicking off Friday, February 9, we take a look back at the iconic Olympic moments that have come before it.


The first Winter Olympics were held in Chamonix, France, in 1924. This is the US team during the opening ceremonies.


Eleven-year-old Sonja Henie stands with world champion figure skater Gilles Grafstrom at the 1924 Games. Gramstrom won the Olympic gold while Hennie would go on to win the gold in 1928, 1932, and 1936.


The first Winter Olympics held in the United States was at Lake Placid in 1932. Then-Governor Franklin D. Roosevelt shakes hands with American Olympic captain J.A. Stevens.


The next Winter Olympics were held in Garmisch-Partenkirchen, Germany in 1936. It was overseen by Chancellor Adolf Hitler. They were the last games to be held before the outbreak of World War II.


Later called “The Forgotten Miracle,” the US Ice Hockey win over Canada for the Olympic gold in 1960 was as incredible as the later game in 1980. Here, the team piles on the puck a moment after winning; American coach Jack Riley is in the middle of the pile.


The US team was nearly shut out of gold medals at the 1968 Olympics in Grenoble, France. Peggy Flemming saved the day, winning the figure skating gold. It was the first skating win since the tragic Sabena plane crash that killed the entire US figure skating team in 1961.


Frenchman Jean-Claude Killy swept the alpine skiing events at the 1968 Olympics. His performance was so dominating that spectators and the media dubbed the games, “The Killympics.”


At the 1976 Winter Olympics in Innbruck, Austria, Austrian Franz Klammer shocked the world by recording the fastest downhill skiing time in history. The crowd was so enthusiastic that he needed police protection.


In 1980, the US team defeated the vastly superior Soviet Union hockey team, en route to the Olympic gold. The game, which the US won 4-3, was dubbed “The Miracle On Ice.”


US Olympic speedskater Eric Heiden was the first person to win five gold medals at a single games, setting four Olympic records and one world record in the process. Here, he wins the 1500 meters event.


The Jamaican bobsled team, competing for the first time at the Olympic games, stole the headlines at the 1988 Winter Olympics in Calgary, Canada. The team crashed in the four-man event, but was cheered as they pushed the sled across the finish line.

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David Yarrow/Getty Images)

The Olympics were billed by the media as “The Battle of the Brians,” the intense figure skating rivalry between American Brian Boitano and Canadian Brian Orser. Both performed incredibly, but Boitano won the gold by one-tenth of a point.


American speed skater Dan Jansen skated the 500-meter race just hours after his sister died of leukemia. Jansen ended up falling on the first quarter of the heat.


The biggest story of the 1994 Games in Lillehammer was the conflict between American figure skaters Tonya Harding (right) and Nancy Kerrigan (left). A month before the games, Harding’s ex-husband allegedly clubbed Kerrigan on the knee to keep her out of the games. Kerrigan returned and won the silver medal.

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NS/Reuters

The 1998 Winter Olympics in Nagano were the first to feature snowboarding. Canadian Ross Rebagliati won the first snowboarding gold medal, during this Giant Slalom run.

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Reuters

After the US Men’s hockey team disappointed big (and left the games in disgrace after trashing a hotel room), the women’s team made a huge splash when they won the first Olympic gold medal for women’s ice hockey.

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Matthew Stockman /Allsport

Austrian Hermann Maier suffered a horrific crash during his first Olympic run. It was so bad that many thought he might be paralyzed. To everyone’s surprise, Maier returned to win two Olympic golds.

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Reuters

At the 2002 Olympics in Salt Lake City, Jim Shea became a third generation Olympic champion when he won the gold in men’s skeleton for the US. His father competed in nordic and cross-country skiing events and his grandfather was Jack Shea, the famous Olympic speed skater.

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REUTERS/Juergen Schwarz

In 2002, Great Britain’s women’s curling team took home the first country’s first Olympic gold in 18 years. The team was made up of “housewife superstars,” and captured the imagination of the UK.

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REUTERS/Dan Chung

In 2002, speed skater Steve Bradbury won Australia’s first Winter Olympic gold in history, when every other racer fell during the final stretch.


Vonetta Flowers (left) and Jill Bakken (right) won the first women’s bobsleigh gold in Olympics history in 2002. Flowers was the first black athlete to win a gold medal at the Winter Olympics.

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REUTERS/Jim Bourg

Many accused judges of cheating in 2002, when figure skaters Jamie Sale and David Pelletier of Canada lost to Elena Berezhnaya and Anton Sikharulidze of Russia, despite a flawless performance and noticeable mistake by the Russians. The Canadians were eventually awarded a gold.

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REUTERS/Rick Wilking

Tragedy struck at the 2010 Olympic Games in Vancouver, before they even started. Georgian luge athlete Nodar Kumaritashvili crashed during a high-speed training run, dying at the hospital hours before the opening ceremony.


Shaun White led a historic showing for the US team at the 2010 Winter Olympics. While White defended his gold in the Snowboarding Halfpipe Competition, the team won an unprecedented 37 medals.


At the 2010 Vancouver Olympic Games, Canada won the event that Canadians truly care about — hockey. Sidney Crosby scored the game-winning goal against the US in overtime to win the gold.

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REUTERS/Todd Korol

At the 2014 Sochi Games, Russia’s Adelina Sotnikova came out of nowhere to beat presumptive winner Yuna Kim of South Korea, despite Kim seemingly skating a perfect program. The event was fraught with controversy, with many accusing the judges of foul play.

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REUTERS/Alexander Demianchuk

At the 2014 Sochi Games, the Canadian women’s ice hockey team came back against the US down 2-0 with only three minutes and 26 seconds left in the game. Marie-Philip Poulin scored the game-winning goal to bring the score to 3-2 in overtime.

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REUTERS/Grigory Dukor