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10 Most Memorable Winter Olympic Moments

Every four years brings a batch of OMG moments. Here are 10 from Winter Games past that rocked the world's biggest sporting stage -- and still have us talking.

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Eddie Eagan and bobsled team
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#10: The Bobsledding Boxer

Early in Olympic history, the U.S.'s light-heavyweight boxer made a cameo at the Winter Games, and earned gold doing it. Eddie Eagan, who had previously won gold at the Summer Games, took a historic bobsled ride in the four-man at the 1932 Lake Placid Games. He had taken up bobsledding just three weeks earlier. As if that weren't quirky enough, the race didn't end up happening until two days after the Games had closed, thanks to a sloshy course.

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#9: The First Olympic Double Axel

Sure, ice skating is beautiful. But let's face it, most TV spectators watch it for the double axels. The courage -- or perhaps recklessness -- of one 18-year-old skater named Dick Button made that possible back in 1948. Only two days after completing a double axel for the first time, Button introduced the move to Olympic competition to win gold in the 1948 Games in St. Moritz. He won a second gold four years later in Oslo, this time introducing the triple loop. Out of the 18 judges at those two Games, only one did not award him a first-place vote.

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#8: Peggy Fleming. Period.

The name says it all. After all, even if you weren't around when the graceful 19-year-old turned the world on to figure skating, chances are you've heard of her. At the 1968 Grenoble Games, Peggy Fleming enchanted spectators everywhere as they watched the Games in color for the first time. Winning her skate by 88.3 points, she kept America from suffering its first gold-medal shutout in Winter Olympics history and popularized her sport for decades to come.

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#7: Women's Inaugural Bobsledding

The 46 years of bad luck for the U.S. in the bobsledding department ended in 2002 when an unassuming pair took the inaugural women's event. Jill Bakken, the bobsled's driver, was a specialist in the Utah Army National Guard, and her partner, Vonetta Flowers, was a seven-time track All-American who had simply answered the U.S. Bobsled Federation's want ad. Their first-place finish made Flowers the first African-American to win Winter Olympic gold, and earned them both the honor of carrying the Olympic flag at the Closing Ceremony.

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#6: Bonnie Blair Earns Record Bling

How's this for girl power? Bonnie Blair closed out her illustrious speed skating career in the 1994 Lillehammer as the most decorated American athlete (man or woman!) in Winter Olympics history (five golds, one bronze, thank you very much). In what was her fourth and last Olympic appearance, Blair won her second gold in the 1,000-meter race and her third in the 500-meter.

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#5: Bolero

The sensuous sounds of Ravel's "Bolero" played for 18 seconds before Jayne Torvill and Christopher Dean started skating, and to this day their starting pose, kneeling together on the ice, is the defining image of the 1984 Sarajevo Games. With their legendary performance, the British duo became the highest-scoring figure skaters of all time. They earned 12 perfect scores of 6.0 and six scores of 5.9, including a 6.0 in the artistic impression category from every judge. The pair recently recreated their famed skate to "Bolero" on the British TV show Dancing on Ice.

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#4: Hermann Maier's Post-Crash Golds

Regarded as one of the all-time best alpine ski racers, Hermann Maier nearly lost his chance at gold -- and his life -- at the 1998 Nagano Games, when an epic crash sent him tumbling at near triple-digit speeds. While for everyone watching, it was amazing he was able to get up at all, days later he was back on the slopes, winning gold in both the giant slalom and Super-G.

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#3: Eric Arthur Heiden's Total Domination

The 1980 Lake Placid Games was the year of Eric Arthur Heiden. He became the first athlete to win five individual gold medals in a single Games -- Summer or Winter. He set Olympic records in the 500-, 1,000-, 1,500- and 5,000-meters, and then crushed the 10,000-meter world record by six-plus seconds.

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#2: Dan Jansen's Victory Lap

Heading into the 1988 Olympics, Dan Jansen was favored to win both the 500- and 1,000-meter speed skating races. But hours before the race he received news that his sister Jane, to whom he had promised he would win gold, had just lost her battle with leukemia. While Jansen competed in each race, he fell in both. Four years later, Jansen again entered competition as the favorite in both races, but left the Games without a medal. Again favored in 1994, he slipped and fell on the 500-meter race, making the 1,000-meter, at which six of his opponents had better times going into the race, his last chance for an Olympic victory. In that race, he finally got his gold -- and a new world record. Then, in one of the most emotional victory laps ever, he carried his young daughter, who was named, appropriately, Jane.

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#1: The Miracle on Ice

With a story like this, there's no wonder why Disney turned this into a movie. Set against the backdrop of the Cold War, a scrappy U.S. ice hockey team, made up of amateur and collegiate players, prepared to take on the Soviet powerhouse in the Lake Placid 1980 Games. The Soviet team was considered the best hockey team in the world at the time, and just a week earlier, had whipped the U.S. team 10-3 in an exhibition match. Still, against all odds (and we are guessing a lot of bets), the U.S. team stunned the Soviets and the world with a 4-3 upset. As the final seconds ticked down, broadcaster Al Michaels delivered what remains to be one of the most famous lines in sporting history: "Do you believe in miracles?"

Originally published on, January 2014.

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