Individual Medal Sweeps

We described yesterday how nations have swept the medals at various Winter Olympic events. An individual can never do that at one Olympics, obviously (although see below re Beckie Scott), but an individual medal sweep is possible, if an athlete can win a full set of Olympic medals – gold, silver, and bronze.

Now this is not so uncommon, but it is rare when an athlete achieved an individual medal sweep in the same individual event. In fact, it has only happened 10 times at the Winter Olympics, as follows:

Athlete                                              Gdr   NOC   Sport  Event              Meds

Claudia Pechstein                             F      GER   SSK    5K               3/1/1 – 5

Silke Kraushaar                                  F      GER   LUG   Singles      1/1/1 – 3

Karin Enke-Kania                              F      GDR  SSK    500 m        1/1/1 – 3

Claudia Pechstein                             F      GER   SSK    3K               1/1/1 – 3

Christa Rothenburger-Luding   F      GER   SSK    500 m       1/1/1 – 3

Kari Traa                                                 F      NOR   FRS    Moguls    1/1/1 – 3

Armin Zöggeler                                 M     ITA      LUG    Singles     2/1/2 – 5

Knut Johannesen                             M     NOR   SSK    10K            1/1/1 – 3

Ådne Søndrål                                     M      NOR   SSK    1,500 m   1/1/1 – 3

Bob de Jong                                        M     NED    SSK    10K            1/1/1 – 3

Note that German Claudia Pechstein has actually done this twice, in the 3,000 and 5,000 metres speedskating events, with 5 medals in the 5,000. Italian luger Armin Zöggeler has also won 5 medals in one individual event, in men’s singles luge.

Pechstein’s record would likely be more impressive except that she missed the 2010 Winter Olympics because of a suspension due to suspicion of blood doping due to abnormal reticulocytes in her blood sample. She returned in 2011 and continues to compete and should be in Sochi. In 2013 she won bronze medals in both the 3,000 and 5,000 at the World Single-Distance World Championships, so she could certainly extend these records. She also won bronze medals in the 5K at that tournament in both 2011 and 2012, making her a strong threat to medal in the 5K in Sochi.

Five athletes have won 5 Olympic medals in the same event at the Winter Olympics. In addition to Pechstein and Zöggeler, this has been done by the following:

Ricco Groß                     M   GER   Biathlon               Relay           4/1/0 – 5

Georg Hackl                  M   GER   Luge                        Singles        3/2/0 – 5

Harri Kirvesniemi      M   FIN     X-Country Ski   Relay           0/0/5 – 5

Kirvesniemi is the only Olympian to win 5 bronze medals in the same event, Winter or Summer. Except for Pechstein, all are long since retired and will not be winning a sixth medal. But if Pechstein can win a medal in the 5,000 metres at Sochi it would give her 6 medals in the same event, which would be a new best for the Winter Olympics, and equal the record for the Summer Olympics.

Both Aládar Gerevich (HUN) in fencing team sabre and Hans Günter Winkler (FRG) in equestrian team jumping won 6 medals in the same event. Gerevich’s performance is even more remarkable because all of his medals were gold medals.

If she can win a 6th medal in the 5K, Pechstein’s performance would surely outshine Gerevich and Winkler, because hers would be in an individual event.

There is also the unique case of Canada’s Beckie Scott, who can claim a full set of medals from the same event at the same time. At the 2002 Winter Olympics in Salt Lake City, Scott finished third in the pursuit race, behind Russians Olga Danilova and Larisa Lazutina. But both Russians then tested positive for PEDs after the 30 km race, however, they were allowed to initially keep their medals for the pursuit. It was then revealed, however, that Lazutina had tested positive twice at World Cup events prior to Salt Lake City, so she was disqualified from all 2002 Winter Olympic events and Scott moved up to the silver medal. The Canadian Olympic Committee then appealed against Danilova, stating that she should be disqualified from all Olympic events if she tested positive in any event at the Olympics. This was upheld by the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) and Scott then was moved up to the gold medal position, receiving her gold medal on 25 June 2004.

Now in team events, it is much more common to win a full set of Olympic medals in the same event. Here are the 23 Winter Olympians who have done that – 10 women and 13 men:

Name                                      Gdr   NOC  Sport                      Event     Meds

Galina Kulakova                    F     URS   X-Country Ski   Relay     2/1/1 – 4

Angela Ruggiero                    F     USA   Ice Hockey          —            1/2/1 – 4

Jenny Schmidgall-Potter  F     USA   Ice Hockey          —            1/2/1 – 4

Kati Wilhelm                            F     GER   Biathlon              Relay     1/1/1 – 3

Andrea Henkel                       F     GER   Biathlon               Relay     1/1/1 – 3

Albina Akhatova                   F      RUS  Biathlon                Relay     1/1/1 – 3

Alevtina Kolchina                 F      URS  X-Country Ski   Relay     1/1/1 – 3

Marina Klimova                    F      EUN  Figure Skating  Dance   1/1/1 – 3

Tricia Dunn-Luoma             F      USA  Ice Hockey           —           1/1/1 – 3

Katie King                                 F     USA  Ice Hockey           —            1/1/1 – 3

Igor Kravchuk                       M     RUS  Ice Hockey           —            2/1/1 – 4

Jan Behrendt                         M    GER  Luge                        Doubl.   2/1/1 – 4

Stefan Krauße                      M     GER  Luge                        Doubl.   2/1/1 – 4

Wolfgang Hoppe                M     GER  Bobsledding       Four        1/2/1 – 4

Fritz Fischer                          M     GER  Biathlon                Relay      1/1/1 – 3

Eugenio Monti                     M     ITA    Bobsledding        Four        1/1/1 – 3

Eugenio Monti                     M     ITA    Bobsledding        Two         1/1/1 – 3

Markus Zimmermann     M     GER  Bobsledding        Two         1/1/1 – 3

Eero Mäntyranta               M     FIN    X-Country Ski     Relay      1/1/1 – 3

Sergey Ponomarenko      M    EUN  Figure Skating    Dance    1/1/1 – 3

Darius Kasparaitis             M    RUS  Ice Hockey             —            1/1/1 – 3

Aleksey Zhamnov              M    RUS  Ice Hockey             —            1/1/1 – 3

Hannu Manninen               M    FIN    Nordic Comb.     Team      1/1/1 – 3

Note that Eugenio Monti has done this twice, in two-man and four-man bobsledding.

Are any 2014 Olympians in position to achieve an individual medal sweep in an individual event? There are a few who could do this, but the biggest threats are Marlies Schild, Austrian alpine skiier who has a silver and a bronze medal in women’s slalom; and Ole Einar Bjørndalen, Norwegian biathlete who has a gold and a silver in the biathlon pursuit, and needs only a bronze to complete his medal sweep. Schild needs a gold medal in slalom, but she has already won 2 World Cup slaloms in December 2013, and she was the World Cup slalom champion in the last 2 seasons.

Bjørndalen’s is looking after bigger game. If he wins any medal in Sochi, it will give him 12 Winter Olympic medals, tying Bjørn Dæhlie’s Winter Olympic record for most medals won. Can he do it? Can he complete the medal sweep in biathlon pursuit? Can Pechstein win a sixth Olympic medal in the 5,000 metre speedskating? Stay tuned.

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