In 1924, the first Winter Olympic Games were held in Chamonix, France. Since then, the Winter Games have provided countless demonstrations of sporting prowess on snow and ice, with events ranging from the thunderous bobsleigh to elegant ice dancing and the wonderfully niche sport of curling.
Over the years, legends have been made at the Winter Olympics, with names such as Bjorn Daehlie, Stefania Belmondo, Jean-Claude Killy, and Katarina Witt. There have been many stirring moments, such as 1980's “Miracle on Ice,” when the U.S. hockey team upset the odds by beating the mighty Soviet Union, or Torvill and Dean’s sublime 1984 ice dance that wowed the judges and the world. Then there are those moments that only the Olympics can provide — moments where simply taking part is more important than winning medals. Who can forget the Jamaican bobsleigh team’s incredible journey to the 1988 games? Or the underdog spirit of Eddie the Eagle, whose heroic ski-jumping failures endeared him to people around the globe.
Win or lose, Winter Olympians are an elite group who serve as an inspiration to us all. Here are some quotes from these remarkable athletes, whose hard-earned insights and advice are well worth heeding.
Winning doesn't always mean being first. Winning means you're doing better than you've ever done before.
— Bonnie Blair, U.S. speed skater who won five gold medals and one bronze medal in four Olympics
There is a popular fallacy that falling down is the mark of a poor skater. But the truth is that when one stops falling, he has probably stopped improving.
— Dick Button, U.S. figure skater who won gold at both the 1948 and 1952 Winter Olympics
Never try to imitate anyone else. Follow your own path, find something new, something that is yours, and stick with it.
— Ricco Groß, German biathlete and the only biathlete in history to win four Winter Olympic relay titles
My mum always told me, before we ever won anything, and then when we started, “Well done, but there’ll always be somebody better.” She wasn’t trying to put me down, she was just reminding me not to be complacent, that I had to keep working, and it was the best thing she could have said.
— Jayne Torvill, British ice dancer who won gold at the 1984 Winter Olympics with her partner Christopher Dean
To uncover your true potential you must first find your own limits and then have the courage to blow past them.
— Picabo Street, U.S. alpine ski racer who won gold at the 1998 Winter Olympics
I think there is a very big chance I will finish last. But the placing is not important if I can teach young people in Nepal about the Olympic spirit. This spirit is in my heart.
— Dachhiri Sherpa, Nepali cross-country skier who competed in three Winter Olympics, with a best finish of 86th place
The first thing is to love your sport. Never do it to please someone else. It has to be yours.
— Peggy Fleming, U.S. figure skater who won gold at the 1968 Winter Olympics
Risk something or forever sit with your dreams.
— Herb Brooks, U.S. ice hockey player and coach who won gold at the 1980 Winter Olympics as the head coach of the famous “Miracle on Ice” team
It was my dream to get to those Olympic Games despite everybody saying it was impossible. No matter how many people say you can’t do something, use that as inspiration to prove them wrong.
— Michael “Eddie the Eagle” Edwards, British ski-jumper who finished last in two events at the 1988 Winter Olympics
If I have given my all and still do not win, I haven’t lost. Others might remember winning or losing; I remember the journey.
— Apolo Anton Ohno, U.S. short-track speed skater and most decorated American Winter Olympian
Every day, someone realizes a dream. I believe dreams help light our darkness and give us the push we need to move across the rink of life.
— Kristi Yamaguchi, U.S. figure skater who won gold at the 1992 Winter Olympics
If one little girl who looks like me picks up a winter sport because she sees me, that’s all anybody could ever ask for.
— Elana Meyers, U.S. bobsledder and winner of two silver and one bronze at the Winter Olympics
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