Dan Jansen

Biographical information

RolesCompeted in Olympic Games • Other
Full nameDaniel Ervin "Dan"•Jansen
Used nameDan•Jansen
Born17 June 1965 in Milwaukee, Wisconsin (USA)
Measurements183 cm / 88 kg
AffiliationsWASSC, West Allis (USA)
NOC United States
Medals OG
Gold 1
Silver 0
Bronze 0
Total 1


Dan Jansen is considered among the greatest sprint speed skaters ever. He won numerous times on the World Cup circuit and at World Championships, and his only failing was a relative lack of success at the Olympic Games. But in some ways his Olympic performances were his greatest success, revealing his character. Jansen competed at the 1984 Winter Olympics before his prime, but in 1988 he won the World Sprint Championships one week before the Olympics and was favored in both the 500 and 1,000 metre races. The day of the 500 metres, he was informed that his sister, Jane, who was sick with leukemia, was close to death. Only a few hours before the start of the race, he found that she had died. Jansen started, but fell as he entered the first turn. A few days later, he skated the 1,000 metres and fell again. But he reacted with a grace and magnanimity so rarely seen in athletes after crushing defeats.

At the 1992 Winter Olympics, Jansen was again favored and again struggled, placing fourth in the 500 and 26th in the 1,000. He had no excuses and he offered none. Coming to the 1994 Winter Olympics, Jansen was again a favorite, at least in the 500, but in that race he started on the outer, and on the final turn, his speed was so great that he slightly lost control and put his hand down to steady himself, losing a few tenths of a second, and placing only eighth in the race. His last chance for a gold medal seemed lost, until a few days later, when he resurrected his Olympic record by winning a gold medal in the 1,000 in world record time. In his victory lap, he carried his young daughter around the rink with him – her name was Jane.

During his career, Dan Jansen won 46 World Cup races (second all-time), and seven overall World Cups, as well as two World Sprint Championships (1988 and 1994). He also set eight senior world records, five in the 500, two in the sprint combination, and one 1,000 record at the Lillehammer Olympics. After retiring Jansen worked as a motivational speaker, and as a sales rep for an orthopaedic equipment company.

Personal Bests: 500 – 35.76 (1994); 1000 – 1:12.43 (1994); 1500 – 1:55.62 (1993); 3000 – 4:25.63 (1983); 5000 – 7:50.22 (1982); Sprint Combination – 144.815 (1994).


Games Discipline (Sport) / Event NOC / Team Pos Medal As
1984 Winter Olympics Speed Skating (Skating) USA Dan Jansen
500 metres, Men (Olympic) 4
1,000 metres, Men (Olympic) 16
1988 Winter Olympics Speed Skating (Skating) USA Dan Jansen
500 metres, Men (Olympic) DNF
1,000 metres, Men (Olympic) DNF
1992 Winter Olympics Speed Skating (Skating) USA Dan Jansen
500 metres, Men (Olympic) 4
1,000 metres, Men (Olympic) =26
1994 Winter Olympics Speed Skating (Skating) USA Dan Jansen
500 metres, Men (Olympic) 8
1,000 metres, Men (Olympic) 1 Gold

Olympic Records

Records may have been broken subsequently during the same competition.
Games Date Sport Event Phase Mark Pos
1994 Winter Olympics 18 February 1994 Speed Skating (Skating) 1,000 metres, Men Final Standings 1:12.43 WR 1

Other participations

Games Role NOC As
1994 Winter Olympics Flagbearer at the Closing Ceremony USA Dan Jansen

Special Notes