Bonnie Blair

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Bonnie Blair
Bonnie Blair.jpg
Personal information
Nationality American
Born (1964-03-18) March 18, 1964 (age 53)
Cornwall, New York
Height 5 ft 5 in (165 cm)
Weight 130 lb (59 kg)
Sport Speedskating
Turned pro 1984
Retired 1995

Bonnie Kathleen Blair (born March 18, 1964) is a retired American speedskater. She is one of the top skaters of her era, and one of the most decorated athletes in Olympic history. Blair competed for the United States in four Olympics, winning five gold medals and one bronze medal.

Early life[edit]

Blair was born in Cornwall, New York to Charlie and Eleanor Blair. She was the youngest of six children. The family moved Champaign, Illinois when Bonnie was a toddler.[1][2] Already a hobby for her siblings, Bonnie first tried skating at age two.[2] She participated in her first skating meet at age 4.[2] She attended Jefferson Middle School and later Centennial High School in Champaign[3]

At age 15, Blair tried out for the national team, earning a spot on her first attempt.[4] With her increased focus on the 1984 Olympics, Blair went to train in Europe.[2] She completed her high school diploma through the mail in 1982.[2] She moved to the Milwaukee area to train with the United States national speed skating team,[citation needed] living with a family friend while she trained.[4]


Early career and first Olympics[edit]

Blair appeared at her first Olympic games at age 19 in Sarajevo in 1984.[5] Blair was not considered a front-runner and later recalled she was happy just to be at the games and see her family in the stands.[6][7] She failed to medal but finished eighth in the 500 meters.[1] Blair trained in both short-track and long-track. Blair won events at 1984, 1985 and 1986 short-track world championships and was the 1986 overall short-track world champion.[8]

Olympic medalist[edit]

At the 1988 Winter Olympics in Calgary, Alberta, Blair had her best start ever in the 500 meters, winning the gold medal in world record time of 39.10 seconds. She also won the bronze in the 1,000 meters.[9]

Blair won the gold in both the 500 and 1,000 meters (1:21.90) at the 1992 Winter Olympics in Albertville, France.[10]

1994 Olympics[edit]

Blair took advantage of a change of Olympic rules. In 1986, the International Olympic Committee voted to stage the Winter Olympics and Summer Olympics in alternating four year cycles. Thus, the next Winter Games would be held in February 1994 rather than in February 1996. The 1994 Winter Olympics in Lillehammer, Norway, were a coronation of sorts for Blair: She again won gold in the 500 meters (39.25) and 1,000 (1:18.74) meters races, in dominating fashion. Blair finished 0.36 seconds ahead of the second best time in the 500 meters, and her 1.38 second margin in the 1,000 meters race is the largest margin of victory in the history of the event. In the process she became the first American woman to win five gold medals.[11] She also was the only American to have 6 medals at any Winter Olympics, a record that stood until short-track speed skater Apolo Ohno surpassed it at the 2010 Winter Olympics.

Outside the Olympics[edit]

After the 1994 Olympics, Blair continued to compete. In March 1994, Blair set another world record in the 500 meters, becoming the first female to complete the race in under 39 seconds (38.99). Blair continued on to the 1995 World Championships in her adopted home town of Milwaukee.[12] The Blair Bunch, the name given to Blair's family and friends, accounted for 12% of the crowd at the Pettit National Ice Center.[12][4] There, Blair won the 500 meters with a time of 39.54 seconds.[12] On March 18, 1995, she retired.

Blair also tried track cycle racing, and was coached by former speed skater and cycling world champion Connie Paraskevin.[13]

Blair also competed in short-track speed skating, becoming the Overall Short-track World Champion in 1986.

As of 2014, Blair worked as a motivational speaker and corporate spokesperson.[14] That same year she was a member of the U.S. Olympic delegation to Sochi.[14]

Awards and honors[edit]

Bonnie Blair on Azerbaijani postage stamp, 1995

She is a member of the Chicagoland Sports Hall of Fame and the Wisconsin Athletic Hall of Fame.[15] In 2004, she was elected to the United States Olympic Hall of Fame. At the time of her induction, Blair was the most decorated United States Winter Olympian of all time with 5 gold and one bronze (she is currently third to Apolo Ohno who has 2 gold, 2 silver and 4 bronze if equality of medals irrespective of color is applied). She was awarded a star (#7) on The Flag for Hope on September 29, 2015 in recognition of her outstanding Speed Skating Career and philanthropic efforts.[16][17]

In 1992, Blair became the third winter athlete to win the Sullivan Award.[18] Blair won the 1992 Oscar Mathisen Award (being the first female winner of this award). She also was Female Athlete of the Year as selected by the Associated Press in 1994. Blair also won the World Cup points championship 11 times. Sports illustrated named Blair their Sportswoman of the Year for 1994.[18]

Personal life[edit]

Blair began dating fellow Olympic speedskater Dave Cruikshank in 1990.[19] The pair married in Milwaukee, Wisconsin in 1996.[19] Blair and Crikshank have two children: a son, Grant, and daughter, Blair.[20][21]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b Woolum, Janet (1998). Outstanding Women Athletes. Greenwood Publishing Group. pp. 90–92. 
  2. ^ a b c d e Schwartz, Larry. "ESPN Classic - Blair is special ... but she doesn't know it". Retrieved August 31, 2017. 
  3. ^ Nelson, Murry (2013). American Sports: A History of Icons, Idols, and Ideas. ABC-CLIO. p. 137. 
  4. ^ a b c Longman, Jere (February 19, 1995). "Retiring at Top Speed; With Blair, Winning Comes First, Then the Party". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved September 10, 2017. 
  5. ^ Nelson, Murry (2013). American Sports: A History of Icons, Idols, and Ideas. ABC-CLIO. p. 137. 
  6. ^ " Blair Wins 1,000, Sets Gold Record for U.S. Women". Retrieved 2017-09-02. 
  7. ^ "Bonnie Blair shares the experience of her first Olympic Games, the ones in Sarajevo - Sarajevo Times". Sarajevo Times. February 8, 2015. Retrieved September 2, 2017. 
  8. ^ Hersh, Phil (February 26, 1990). "Short-track Speedskating Long On Thrills". tribunedigital-chicagotribune. Retrieved September 2, 2017. 
  9. ^ Woolum, Janet (1998). Outstanding Women Athletes. Greenwood Publishing Group. p. 91. 
  10. ^ Nelson, Murry (2013). American Sports: A History of Icons, Idols, and Ideas. ABC-CLIO. p. 137. 
  11. ^ Nelson, Murry (2013). American Sports: A History of Icons, Idols, and Ideas. ABC-CLIO. p. 137. 
  12. ^ a b c Rushin, Steve (February 27, 1995). "The Last Lap". Retrieved September 10, 2017. 
  13. ^ "SPORTS WORLD SPECIALS: CYCLING; A Smooth-as-Ice Switch". New York Times. 5 June 1989. 
  14. ^ a b Asmussen, Bob (January 26, 2014). "Whatever happened to: Bonnie Blair". The News-Gazette. Retrieved September 1, 2017. 
  15. ^ Hall of Fame Members Archived 2008-12-19 at the Wayback Machine.
  16. ^ "Bonnie Blair – Flag for Hope Star #7". Flag for Hope. 2016-10-21. Retrieved 2016-10-21. 
  17. ^
  18. ^ a b Kiger, Fred W. (February 23, 1994). "ESPN Classic - Blair marches to record fifth gold medal". Retrieved September 1, 2017. 
  19. ^ a b "Cover Story: Weddings of the Year – Vol. 47 No. 5". 1997-02-10. Retrieved 2017-09-02. 
  20. ^ "Bonnie Blair: Biography from". Archived from the original on February 21, 2010. Retrieved 2010-02-21. 
  21. ^ Finn, Chad (February 16, 2010). "Catching up with Bonnie Blair". Retrieved August 31, 2017. 

External links[edit]

Preceded by
Norway Johann Olav Koss
Oscar Mathisen Award
Succeeded by
Netherlands Falko Zandstra
Preceded by
Romania Nadia Comăneci
Flo Hyman Memorial Award
Succeeded by
United States Monica Seles