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11 of the Most Emotional Winter Olympic Moments Ever

Relive the heartbreaking defeats and inspiring victories of some of the world's most talented athletes.

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Dan Jansen

After hearing his sister had passed of cancer hours earlier, the American speed skater fell during the Men’s 1000 meter event in the 1988 Games; he previously had fallen during the Men’s 500 meter. Jansen left Calgary, Canada empty-handed.

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USA Hockey Team

At the 1980 Winter Games in Lake Placid, New York, the USA Men’s Hockey team took down the Soviet Union, who had been unbeatable for years, winning 4-3, and their inspirational story was dubbed “The Miracle on Ice.” The USA went on to take the gold medal, beating out Finland 4-2.

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Michelle Kwan

After skating a 7-triple performance at the Winter Games in Nagano, Japan in 1998, Michelle Kwan reacted to her silver medal win for the United States. Then 15-year-old Tara Lipinski, whose technical performance gave her a slight edge, went on to bring home the gold.

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Tara Lipinski

At just 15 years old, Tara Lipinski became the youngest individual gold medal winner of the Winter Olympic games, competing in the Free Skate at the Nagano, Japan 1998 games. She holds the title to this day.

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Tonya Harding

United States skater Harding suffered from an asthma attack while waiting for her technical program scores at the 1994 Winter Olympics in Lillehammer. She took eighth place in the competition.

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Joakim Karlberg

During the 1988 games in Calgary, Canada, Karlberg of Sweden took a tumble in the 1500 meters Speed Skating event, as competitor Bobrov of the USSR flew by.

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Masahiko Harada

As the Japanese Ski Jump team anchor, Masahiko Harada had to jump 105 meters to ensure his team the gold medal at the 1994 Lillehammer games. He fell short, reaching only 98 meters and ultimately giving Germany the opportunity to win the gold.

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Kristin Krone

Ski racer Kristin Krone, of the United States, took a fall during the Women’s Down Hill Combined Race at the 1992 Winter Olympics in Albertville, France. The result: two sprained knees.

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Dick Button

Dick Button, the first American to win an Olympic ice skating title, soared to victory at the 1948 Winter Olympics at St. Moritz in Switzerland. He also landed the first-ever double axel jump during his performance.

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Jamaican Bobsled Team

At the 1988 Calgary Winter Olympic Games, a brand new bobsled team emerged from Jamaica, and quickly garnered media attention. Their underdog status didn’t win them any medals; however, fans all over the world celebrated their efforts.

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Shaun White

Known as “the flying tomato,” red-haired Shaun White is a favorite with many fans of the winter games. After winning gold for Men’s Snowboard Halfpipe at the 2006 and 2010 Olympics, White aimed for a third consecutive win in Sochi. However, after a fall in his first run, White landed himself in fourth place, ultimately leaving him empty handed for the 2014 Olympics.

Reader's Digest
Originally Published in Reader's Digest