Skating for Gold:
Wisconsin's Olympic Speed Skaters, 1976-2006
Dan Jansen (b. 1965)
West Allis, Wisconsin
Dan Jansen, the youngest of nine children, grew up in a speed skating family. By the age of sixteen he had become a serious competitor, setting a junior world record in the 500 meters at his first international competition.
For the next twelve years he dominated speed skating everywhere except at the Olympics. He competed in the 1984 Olympics and just missed a bronze medal. In the 1988 Olympics, hopes were high for him, but he fell in both his races after learning that his sister had died of leukemia just hours before the 500-meter event. At the 1992 Olympics, his coach Peter Mueller predicted he would take home a gold, but though Dan finished both races he did not medal.
At the 1994 Olympics, everything came together for him physically and mentally, and in the last race of his career Dan won a gold medal and set a new world record.
After that, Dan became a motivational speaker and television commentator for speed skating events, including the 2006 Olympics.