On This Date in Sports February 23, 1980: Eric Heiden Golden Blades

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American Speed Skater Eric Heiden sets a World Record in winning the 10,000-meter event in a time of 14:28.13. It is the fifth Gold Medal for Heiden at the 1980 Winter Olympics in Lake Placid, as he becomes the first to sweep all five Speed Skating events. An accomplishment that has yet to be equaled as few others have ever competed in both the sprints and long-distance events in Speed Skating. 


At the 1980 Winter Olympics in Lake Placid, 37 nations competed in 38 events over 12 days. The United States won 12 overall medals, placing third behind the Soviet Union and East Germany. The Americans won four Silver Medals, Three Bronze, and Six Gold Medals. The United States hockey team, with their unlikely upset of the Soviets, won the most notable Gold Medal; Eric Heiden won the other five Gold Medals in Speed Skating.


Eric Heiden was born on June 14, 1958, in Madison, Wisconsin. Together with his sister Beth, Eric Heiden became a world-class speed skater, training at local rinks in Wisconsin, which soon became the heart of the American Speed Skating team. He won his world championships in 1977, taking both the All-Around and Sprint titles. He would win the all-around championship three straight years and the spring four consecutive years, coming up with the silver in 1980 All-Around Championships. 


Eric Heiden was the headliner for the USA before the start of the Lake Placid Olympics, delivering the Athlete’s oath during the opening ceremonies. His first was the 500m on February 15th. With a time of 38.03 seconds, Eric Heiden set an Olympic record on the way to his first Gold Medal, as Soviet Skater Yvgeny Kuliklov, who set the record in 1976 at Innsbruck got the Silver Medal at 38.37 and Liuwe de Boer of the Netherlands claimed the Bronze Medal. One day later, Heiden raced the 5,000m and again claimed another Olympic record with a time of 7:02.29 as Kay Stenshjenmment of Norway finished less than a second behind him for the Silver Medal. Tom Erik Oxholm of Norway would grab the Bronze Medal. 


Eric Heiden had two days off, before the third event, the 1000m was held on February 19th. Heiden would set his third Olympic record, winning with a time of 1:15.18. Gaetan Boucher of Canada finished second, nearly two seconds off the pace to take the Silver Medal, as Vladimir Lobanov of the Soviet Union received the Bronze Medal. Heiden would claim his fourth Gold Medal and fourth Olympic record in the 1,500m on February 15th, with a time of 1:55.44. Kay Stenshjenmment took home the Silver Medal again, finishing just a second and a half back, while Terje Anderson of Norway got the Bronze Medal.



With four Gold Medals and four Olympic records, Eric Heiden looked to complete the sweep with the 10,000m but nearly overslept after celebrating the Miracle on Ice. Saving his best for last, Heiden set a World Record at 14:28.13. Piet Kleine of the Netherlands finished nearly eight seconds behind for the Silver Medal, while Tom Erik Oxholm got his second Bronze Medal.