The 7 most memorable Winter Olympics moments

Steven Bradberry winning gold at the winter Olympics

Tom Hounslow

Posted February 08, 2022

Every four years, the world gathers to compete in the cold. Here are seven moments that will be remembered forever – for the better or worse.

The Olympic Games celebrate unity, teamwork, and comradery through friendly competition. But every now and then, something remarkable happens to take the focus off the world-wide event, and shift the limelight onto a single person for that one moment.

Here are five incredible moments that will be forever told as the legends of the Winter Olympics. 

Incredible moments at the Winter Olympics

Steven Bradbury’s bizarre victory

Many still say Steven Bradbury’s gold medal victory at the 2002 Salt Lake City Winter Games is synonymous with ‘luck’ or a ‘fluke’.

Competing at the 1000m short-track speed skating event, Bradbury deployed what he would later call a ‘wait-and-see’ tactic after previous heats had seen multiple skaters fall. At the final turn of the last lap, Bradbury trailed by half a lap of the rink when the four leaders collided, creating an opening for Bradbury to sail through the finish line unopposed. What made the moment legendary was that Bradbury himself seemed just as shocked as the rest of us. 

While Bradbury had appeared at four previous Winter Olympics, his unlikely victory was the stage for his last.

Steven Bradbury also holds the record alongside Kieran Hansen, Andrew Murtha and Richard Nizielski as Australia’s first-ever medal winners at a Winter Olympics.


Bradbury's unlikely victory

Lydia Lassila’s comeback

Born and raised in Melbourne, Lydia Lassila became an icon, not only for winning a gold medal at the 2010 Vancouver Winder Olympic aerials event, but embodying a never-say-die spirit.

Her journey to gold was derailed four years prior during a qualifying round for the 2006 Winter Olympics in Torino, Italy when she ruptured her ACL. Lassila’s injury forced her to spend the next 16 months on the sideline, putting her future potential into question.

After making a comeback to aerials in 2007, Lassila managed to enter the 2007 World Cup competition and win a silver medal.

Competing at the 2010 Winter Games, Lassila had landed second position after her first of the final, before going on to post the highest score of the grid with her second. Lassila amassed a total score of 214.74, beating the second-placed Li Nina with 207.23 points.

Cool Runnings

The 1993 Disney film Cool Runnings will forever be remembered as one of the greatest underdog movies of all time. But how much of it is a true story?

While it is true that Jamaica spectacularly entered a team for four-man bobsled team at the 1988 Calgary Winter Olympics, and that the team walked to the finish line after a spectacular crash, it’s fair to say that the film took a lot of artistic licenses.

For example, the co-founder of the team, Devon Harris, told the ABC how the brakeman (the comic relief Sanka in the film) was actually a man named Chris Stokes, recruited from a track scholarship in Idaho.

Harris also attests that the bullying portrayed in the film by other countries (particularly the Swiss) was not true and they were in fact beloved for having the courage to try a sport known for its danger. Though Switzerland won gold for the four-man bobsled, the Jamaicans stole the show and will go down in history as the most unlikely competitors in sport. 


Jamaican bobsleigh team at Calgary 1988

Shaun White does the impossible

By the time of the 2010 Winter Olympics in Vancouver, Shaun White was already a legend in the extreme sports world – particularly in snowboarding.

Having received his first sponsorship at the young age of seven, White dabbled as a skateboarder and was mentored by skating legend Tony Hawk. However, the slopes called White’s name and he embarked on what is now regarded the greatest professional snowboarding resume in history.

In 2010 at the halfpipe event, White achieved what was thought the impossible and scored 46.8 (out of a possible 50) on his first of three runs, securing victory after only one attempt.

While he could have sat on the bench for his remaining runs, he continued to compete and secured a final score of 48.4. He finished his second run with a never-before-seen stunt called a Double McTwist 1260 - which he renamed ‘The Tomahawk’.

Nancy Kerrigan and Tonya Harding

Portrayed in the 2017 drama-comedy I, Tonya starring Margot Robbie; Nancy Kerrigan was a champion figure skater during the ‘90s who was assaulted with a police baton by Shane Stant – organised by Tonya Harding’s ex-husband Jeff Gillooly.

The assault was intended to take Kerrigan out of contention to compete at the 1994 Lillehammer Olympics – paving the way for Harding to claim gold. However, after the devastating blow to her knee, Kerrigan made a miraculous recovery in only seven weeks and managed to compete at the 1994 Winter Olympics – alongside Harding.

Kerrigan ultimately finished in second place, winning a silver medal behind the Ukrainian Oksana Baiul. Harding finished eighth. 

Kerrigan was inducted into the United States Figure Skating Hall of Fame in 2004. 


Kerrigan's Lillehammer 1994 free skating routine

Eddie the Eagle

Michael Edwards captured the imagination of the globe during the 1988 Winter Olympics in Calgary as an amateur ski jumper competing against weathered professionals. While he lacked the image of a professional athlete (wearing thick glasses) nor had much experience, he was revered for his passion, determination, and courage.

Ultimately, his dedication proved insufficient for success, coming in last in both the 70m and 90m ski jumping events. By comparison, in the 70m event he scored 69.2 points from his two jumps – the competitor who came second-last scored 140.4. The winner, Matti Nykänen of Finland, scored 229.1.

While he may have walked away empty handed, ‘Eddie the Eagle’ went on to be the protagonist of the 2015 film Eddie the Eagle starring Taron Egerton.

Jakara Anthony wins gold

As Dorothea Mackeller wrote, Australia is a sunburnt country, a land of sweeping plains, of ragged mountain ranges, of drought and flooding rains. So what would we know about snow, ice and winter sports?

Since Australia began competing at the Winter Olympics in 1896, we had only amassed five gold medals at the Winter Olympics in total, which made Jakara Anthony’s gold medal victory at the 2022 Beijing Olympics, and Australia’s sixth gold medal, such a spectacular achievement.

After finishing first in each of her qualifying runs, Jakara was in pole position to win gold at the women’s freestyle moguls event.

Moguls is the sport of descending a mountain plagued with bumps and jumps – known for pushing the human knee joint to the limit. Scored by a combination of technique, speed, and ‘jump quality’, Jakara managed to calm her nerves and score 83.09, beating American Jaelin Kauf. 


Women’s moguls 2022 highlights