In 1986 the IOC voted to change the schedule of the Olympic Games so that the Summer and Winter Games would be held in different years, increasing the profile of each event and the Olympic Movement in general. As a result, two years after the 1992 Winter Games, the Winter Olympics again took place, this time in Lillehammer, Norway. A record 80 nations participated. It was also the Games where Australia won its first Winter Olympic medal, a bronze, in short track speed skating.
The 1994 Games were extremely well organised and the Norwegians’ love of winter sports added a refreshing purity of spirit. It also helped that Norway’s athletes excelled, winning 10 gold medals to trail only Russia (11 gold) on the medal table. Norway’s tally of 26 medals overall was the best of any nation.
Norway’s brightest star was speed skater Johan Olav Koss. He won three gold medals, setting a new world record with each of his wins – the 1500m, 5000m and 10,000m. In the 10,000m, he gave a great individual performances in Games history to win by a staggering 18.70 seconds.
In figure skating, the bitter off-rink melodrama of United States figure skaters Tonya Harding and Nancy Kerrigan enthralled much of the media, but it was Oksana Baiul, a Ukrainian teenager, who shone on the ice and upstaged her competitors for the women’s gold. Kerrigan won the silver medal.
In the spirit of the Olympic Games, and at a time when their homeland and people were at war, the Bosnia and Herzegovina four-man bobsleigh was comprised of one Croatian, two Bosnians and a Serbian. They placed 29th. Meanwhile, Russia’s Lyubov Yegorova, a triple gold medallist in 1992, again won three gold medals in cross-country skiing.
In one of the best stories of the Games, US speed skater Dan Jansen finally tasted Games victory. He had previously experienced nothing but disappointment at the Winter Olympics, having missed out on a medal at the two preceding Games despite a stellar international career in which he had set seven world records. His last chance was the 1,000m in Lillehammer. He was on world record pace when he slipped during the penultimate turn. Fortunately, he steadied himself and powered on to set a world record and win a gold medal at last.