If there’s one thing that’s certain about each Olympics, it’s that the Games are sure to launch some mega-watt stars. Some athletes go from zeros-to-heroes in a matter of seconds (think Hannah Kearney and Alexandre Bilodeau), and even a lucky few have more lasting careers in the limelight (Apolo Ohno). But as we revel in the glory of today’s Olympians, why not find out what some of our past champions are up to these days?
Sport: Ladies’ Figure Skating
Olympiads: Nagano 1998 (Silver), Salt Lake City 2002 (Bronze)
Where is she now? Kwan was always vocal about her quest for Olympic gold. After nine US and five World Championship titles, the peak of the Olympic podium was the only prize to elude her. She made a brief attempt at a comeback in 2006, but numerous injuries sidelined the star and signified the end of her competitive skating career. Though she’s not competing, Kwan will still be jet-setting around the world. She finished her bachelor’s degree in international studies & political science at the University of Denver this spring, and recently began her master’s degree in international relations at Tufts University. When she has free time, Kwan serves as an envoy for public diplomacy for the US government.
Sport: Ladies’ Figure Skating
Olympiads: Albertville 1992 (Bronze), Lillehammer 1994 (Silver)
Where is she now? Kerrigan is forever ingrained upon the American cultural memory for her helpless howls after teammate/nemesis Tonya Harding hired a hit-man (literally!) to whack her knee in hopes injury would prevent Kerrigan from competing in the 1994 Olympics. Not only did Nancy recover, but she grabbed the silver medal after two impressive programs. Shortly thereafter, Kerrigan retired from competition, toured on the pro circuit, graduated from college, and got married. Just before the start of the Vancouver Games, however, Kerrigan’s name resurfaced again, albeit for tragic reasons. Her brother, Mark Kerrigan, was charged with assault and battery shortly after their father was found dead in their childhood home at the end of January. Since then, she has been laying low with her family.
Sport: Alpine skiing
Olympiads: Lillehammer 1994 (Silver, Downhill), Nagano 1998 (Gold, Super-G)
Where is she now? After capturing the hearts of Americans everywhere with her spunky attitude, unique name (her ultra-liberal parents let her pick it herself), and her win in the Super-G by the tiniest of margins (just .01 second), Picabo Street retired from competitive skiing. She has since given birth to two sons and married, but her life in the limelight is far from over. A feature film about her life is set to start filming this year in Argentina.
Jamie Sale & David Pelletier
Sport: Pairs figure skating
Olympiad: Salt Lake City 2002 (Gold- tie)
Where are they now? Sale and Pelletier were the photogenic couple from Canada whose performance to “Love Story” riveted the audience in Salt Lake. After a rival Russian pair was “unfairly” granted the gold medal, the Canadians’ protests uncovered a judging scandal which resulted in their being awarded a dual gold medal and the complete overhaul of the international figure skating scoring system. Now retired from competitive skating, the couple has since married and given birth to a son, and can be currently heard trash talking giving commentary on the figure skating events for Canadian television.
Sport: Speed Skating
Olympiads: Calgary 1988, Albertville 1992, Lillehammer 1994 (Gold, 1000m)
Where is he now? Dan Jansen’s tear-jerking story made him a legend. His sister Jane, who started his speed-skating career, died just hours before his Olympic debut where he promised her he’d win gold. Jansen spent the 1988 and 1992 Olympics grappling with his grief and failed to deliver, crashing numerous times in competition. Finally, in 1994 he struck gold (and a world record!) and took a victory lap with his infant daughter, Jane. Though his story can be seen, recapped, in those Visa commercials that air every twenty seconds or so, Dan has since moved on to other athletic pursuits. He has run four marathons, most recently the New York City Marathon in November, for charity.