- February 22 down the years
Stenmark streaks to gold
Ingemar Stenmark, Sweden's king of the strong silent types, picked up his second gold medal of the Winter Olympics. Like Alberto Tomba after him, he won the slalom with a blazing second run, having done the same in the giant slalom. Stenmark had won bronze in the GS in 1976 and was banned for being a professional on February 19, 1984.
Niki Lauda was born in Austria. He'll always carry the scars of the crash and burn at the German Grand Prix which cost him the 1976 Formula One title. When a storm broke at the last race in Japan, he dropped out and let James Hunt take the championship. Understandably, a second brush with death was the last thing Lauda needed. He regained the title the following season, having won it easily in 1975, and again nine years later. In that 1984 season, he retired in six of his first nine races, but then duelled with Alain Prost in the last seven. They traded wins, but although Prost took the last two races, Lauda finished second in the finale to beat him by half a point. Lauda was with McLaren by now (ironically Hunt's old team) after winning his first two titles with Ferrari. Too risk-free to be loved by fans, but one of the all-time greats, he won 25 Grands Prix from 1974 to 1985.
Americans never had such excitement with their clothes on. Quite fun for everyone else too, if you weren't from the Soviet Union. They were ice hockey champions at the last four Winter Olympics and heavy favourites for this one. But the Games were in the USA this time, as they had been in 1960, the last time the USSR didn't win the gold...In the match against the hosts today, they led 1-0, 2-1 and 3-2, but the USA kept coming back. They equalised yet again - then their captain Mike Eruzione smashed the puck past an unsighted goalminder from 30 feet. Eruzione is Italian for 'eruption'. Cue one of those now. Jim Craig made save after save in the last ten minutes and the US won 4-3. They still needed a draw from their last match with Finland, and they recovered from 2-1 down to win 4-2. Good, but not an eruption.
Croatia's skiing heavyweight Janica Kostelić won her third gold medal at these Winter Olympics. She matched the feats of Toni Sailer and Jean-Claude Killy. She did have two more events on the schedule than they did - and she nearly won one of those, finishing second in the downhill by just 0.05 seconds. After winning the slalom and the combined, today she added the giant slalom, finishing fastest on both runs despite never having won a World Cup race in the event.
Sonja Henie won her 10th world title in a row. Needless to say: the top female ice skater of her generation. A week earlier, on February 15, she'd won her third Olympic gold medal. She now retired to go to Hollywood and become famous and very rich.
The only boxer to go 40 rounds in a world title fight - twice. They gave Denmark's Oscar Nielsen the nom de boxe Battling Nelson, which tells you everything. When he defended his world lightweight title against the great Joe Gans in 1906, he was disqualified for his latest foul - in the 42nd round. After winning two rematches with Gans (who was a sick man by then), he made three more successful defences and drew a non-title fight with Ad Wolgast before putting the title up against Wolgast. For fans who liked their meat raw, this was a feast. If Nelson was a battler, Wolgast wasn't known as the Michigan Wildcat for nothing. It's tempting to call him a nutter - until you find out he spent years in mental hospitals after he retired. He wasn't ready to retire just yet. Even after Nelson knocked him down in the 22nd round, he swarmed all over him until the referee stopped it in the 40th. Wolgast surprised no-one by getting himself disqualified in two world title fights, the second on July 4, 1916. He and Nelson fought another no-decision fight in 1913, but they'd barely warmed up before it ended after ten rounds.
Basketball legend Wilt 'the Stilt' Chamberlain scored 30 points in a game for the 65th time in a row. It sounds anorak, but it's an amazing feat. And still the NBA record.
Norwegian superman Bjorn Daehlie bowed out of cross-country skiing by winning the 50 kilometres race. It was his 12th medal, including eight golds, both records for any sport at the Winter Olympics.
Michael Chang was born in New Jersey. When he won the French Open in 1989, he was only 17, the youngest male singles champion in any Grand Slam tournament. He drove Ivan Lendl to distraction after losing the first two sets, then came from 2-1 down to win the final against Stefan Edberg. But Chang didn't go on from there. This was the only Grand Slam singles title he ever won, although he was runner-up at the French in 1995 and the Australian and US Opens the following year. His chasing and never-say-die attitude endeared him, but he simply didn't have the weight of shot, or any one big shot, to win major events in the era of Sampras, Becker, Agassi, Lendl, and Thomas Muster. There's only so far you can go by running. He helped the USA win the Davis Cup in 1990.
Mike Tyson's last win, for what it was worth by then. A first-round KO of Clifford Etienne, in between losing to Britons Lennox Lewis and Danny Williams.
Gigi Fernández was born Beatriz Fernández in Puerto Rico and played Davis Cup tennis for the USA, helping them win the trophy in 1990. With Natasha Zvereva of Belarus, she was Wimbledon doubles champion four times in that decade, including three in a row.
The greatest relay race in any Winter Olympics. Norway's team consisted of Sture Sivertsen and three of the all-time giants in cross-country skiing. Between them, Vegard Ulvang, Thomas Alsgaard and Bjorn Daehlie won 16 Winter Olympic golds and 17 at the World Championships. And today they were racing on home ground. Between them, Italy's quartet won not a lot. And they were led off by a 43-year-old. But they stayed close enough to the dream team to give Silvio Fauner a crack at Daehlie on the last leg. One of the best finishers in the sport, Fauner edged ahead in the last straight to win the gold by four tenths of a second. Norway reversed the result in 1998 and 2002, beating Italy by a combined margin of half a second; then Italy won easily at home in 2006. But the 1994 duel is deservedly legendary. A team of so-sos beating the giants of the event. In the land of the giants, too.