Host City: Lillehammer, Norway
Date Started: February 13, 1994
Date Finished: February 25, 1994
Participants: 129 (63 men and 66 women) from 28 countries
Youngest Participant: Olena Belusovska (13 years, 98 days)
Oldest Participant: Jayne Torvill (36 years, 135 days)
Most Medals (Athlete): 18 athletes with 1 medal
Most Medals (Country): Russia (5 medals)
The 1994 Olympic figure skating events were possibly the most highly publicized event in Olympic history, This had less to do with the competition, and everything to do with the selection of the American ladies’ skaters. The two top Americans were Nancy Kerrigan and Tonya Harding. Shortly before the US trials, while walking out to a practice skate, Kerrigan was attacked, hit below her kneecap with a pipe, by an “unknown” assailant. His identity was quickly found out, and it turned out that he was part of a scheme hatched by Harding’s boyfriend, and Harding know about this. Kerrigan could not skate in the trials but was placed on the team, and recovered sufficiently to compete at the Olympics. Officials tried to ban Harding but the US courts overruled them, and she skated in the trials, and eventually in Lillehammer. There is much more to say on this in the description of the women’s competition.
There were other significant happenings in Lillehammer on the skating rink. Professionals were now allowed to compete at the Olympics, although the designation and rules were somewhat difficult to follow. This allowed the 1988 men’s gold medalist, Brian Boitano; the 1984-88 ladies’ gold medalist, Katarina Witt; and the great British ice dance couple, Torvill & Dean, to return to the Olympic rink. All were now past their competitive best, skating as they did now in ice shows. But their former brilliance still made them formidable competitors. Of note, skaters trained on Soviet rinks would win all four gold medals in Lillehammer, though the Soviet Union no longer existed, and none of the gold medalists then trained in that former country.
The other poignant memory of 1984 was that 10 years ago a beautiful Olympic Winter Games had been celebrated in Sarajevo, then in Yugoslavia, but by 1994 part of Bosnia & Herzegovina. And by 1994, Sarajevo was a shattered city, partially destroyed by the Yugoslav civil war of ethnic cleansing, and much of their citizenry lay dead. During the Lillehammer Olympics, IOC President [Juan Antonio Samaranch] travelled to Sarajevo to visit the former Olympic city. And during the ladies’ free skate, Katarina Witt skated to “Where Have All the Flowers Gone?” in memory of the city at which she had first become a star.