It takes an inconceivable amount of dedication and commitment to become an Olympian. It takes even more to win an Olympic medal. One can only imagine what it takes to win five Olympic gold medals, all in either world or Olympic record time. American speed skater Eric Heiden did just that during the 1980 Olympic Winter Games in Lake Placid.
Those Games are largely remembered for the U.S. Olympic hockey team’s improbable gold medal and their “Miracle on Ice” victory over the favored Soviet Union. But what Heiden accomplished on the outdoor speed skating Oval in front of the Lake Placid High School should never be forgotten. He won more gold medals than all nations competing, except for the Soviet Union and East Germany. No speed skater before him and none after have accomplished the same feat. Records are meant to be broken, but Eric Heiden’s five Olympic speed skating gold medals at one Olympic Games will forever stand the test of time.
Eric Heiden was born June 15, 1958 in Madison, WI. To this day, Eric is still considered to be the sport’s best overall speed skater. In addition to his five Olympic gold medals, he also captured three World all-round championships and four World sprint championships. Following his speed skating career, he took up professional cycling and competed in the 1986 Tour de France. He did not finish the race due to a crash during a downhill stretch of the race. Today, Heiden is an orthopedic surgeon in Utah.