So as you no doubt have heard by now, PyeongChang, South Korea was chosen earlier this week as the location for the 2018 Winter Olympic Games. As you may or may not have heard (or read), the marvelous Aaron over at Axels, Loops & Spins has a quote posted from Kim Yu-Na indicating she plans to still be competing by the time the 2018 Games came to pass. Not an unprecedented thought; numerous skaters have set a certain “home country” event as their personal competitive finale, while others just happened to be in their prime when the Olympics came to their backyard. But how have these various home-country heroes fared under that kind of pressure? Let’s take a quick look at all the Winter Olympics that have transpired since World War II with host country reps on the medals podium:
1948 (St. Moritz, Switzerland)-- Hans Gerschwiler (SWI) wins the silver behind gold medalist Dick Button (USA).
1960 (Squaw Valley, United States) – Americans David Jenkins and Carol Heiss won the singles events, while Barbara Roles and the Ludingtons earning bronzes.
1964 (Innsbruck, Austria) Regine Heitzer (AUT) claimed silver behind Sjoukie Dijkstra (NED).
1968 (Grenoble, France) Patrick Pera (FRA) claimed bronze behind Wolfgang Schwarz (AUT) and Timothy Wood (USA).
1980 (Lake Placid, United States) Linda Fratianne and, Charlie Tickner both of the USA, took silver and bronze, respectively.
1988 (Calgary, Canada) Brian Orser, Liz Manley, and the dance team of Wilson/McCall kept the medals coming in for Canada amidst a sea of silver and bronze.
2002 (Salt Lake City, USA) Timothy Goebel nabbed bronze and Sarah Hughes claimed gold—both at relatively young ages.
2010 (Vancouver, Canada) Joannie Rochette took bronze and made it perhaps the defining moment of her career… while Virtue/Moir went all the way to gold territory.
So without doing checking to determine if Ms. Heitzer ever stood a chance of defeating Ms. Dijkstra by way of a previous win (I’m pretty sure Dijkstra was dominant in that era)… or to speculate as to whether Hughes could have even come close to gold in Salt Lake City had she been the gold medal favorite... is the question of how often a home-country, gold-meal fave can completely succeed with that mission?
David Jenkins and Carol Heiss of the Squaw Valley U.S. dream team? Check.
Linda Fratianne, a U.S. and World Champion in Lake Placid? Not quite.
Charlie Tickner, a U.S. champ and former World Champ, also in Lake Placid? Make that “not quite” a double. (He got bronze.)
Brian Orser, representing Canada in Calgary? Close, but no gold-plated cigar.
Virtue/Moir, representing Canada in Vancouver? Absolutely… but as you see, it took 50 years for history to repeat itself.
In other words, I think it would be fantastic for Kim to have the kind of staying power that puts her in PyeongChang as a competitor, let alone a still-dominant factor, seven years from now. And for now, I’m just gonna leave it at that!
I decided to dig up one of those home-country medal performances for a ClipoftheDay by way of Charlie Tickner. Here is the LP that helped him to his 1980 bronze medal in Lake Placid… and listen close to Dick Button and the late great Jim McKay at the beginning of this clip; you can hear McKay sound just a little bit exasperated as Button quickly emphasizes that Tickner still has a shot at gold. (That shot, unfortunately, is blown by at about the 1:55 mark.)