The Greatest Winter Olympians of All Time

OleEinarBjoerndalen BG 560x324In 1994, Ole Einar Bjorndalen, also known as the “King of the Biathlon”, entered his first ever Winter Olympic games as a member of the Norwegian Biathlon team.  Although he would not win a single medal in 1994, Ole Einar Bjorndalen would become the most decorated Winter Olympian of all time. He would go on to participate in the previous six Olympic events between 1994 and 2014.

Ole Einar Bjorndalen is just one of a handful of Winter Olympians that have dominated in their respective sport through the years. Behind him are several other outstanding athletes with seven or more total Winter Olympic medals in every sport from Cross-Country Skiing to Short Track Speed Skating. Sven Kramer of the Netherlands entered the 2018 Winter Games Olympics with 7 medals, and has already added his 8th, by winning the 5,000 meter speed skating competition for a record third time.

sven kramer gettyimages 634725870 edited 560x315

But what makes a great Olympian? Is it strictly the number of medals? For the most part, yes, the number of total medals you win are a major part about how great of an Olympian you are because it is the definitive measure of dominance. How can you say there is a better Olympic swimmer than Michael Phelps when he owns 1,000 Olympic medals? It is the same as any other sport. If you own the rings or the medals, you are considered great.

Dating back to the beginning of the games in 1924, the Winter Olympics have given us a ton of amazing athletes from all across the globe that specialize in Winter sports. Let’s take a look at the list of the greatest Winter Olympians of all time.

 

25) Marja-Liisa Kirvesniemi, Finland

  • Sport: Cross-Country Skiing
  • Olympic Games: 6 (1976, 1980, 1984, 1988, 1992, 1994)
  • Best Olympics: 1984 Sarajevo – 4 Total Medals (3 Gold, 1 Bronze)
  • Total Medals – 7
    • Gold: 3
    • Bronze: 4

24 1 560x341

24) Larisa Lazutina, Unified Team

  • Sport: Cross-Country Skiing
  • Olympic Games: 4 (1992, 1994, 1998, 2002)
  • Best Olympics: 1998 Nagano – 5 Medals (3 Gold, 1 Silver, 1 Bronze)
  • Total Medals – 7
    • Gold: 5
    • Silver: 1
    • Bronze: 1

23 1 560x390

23) Veikko Hakulinen, Finland

  • Sport: Cross-Country Skiing
  • Olympic Games: 4 (1952, 1956, 1960, 1964)
  • Best Olympics: 1956 Cortina d’Ampezzo – 3 Medals (1 Gold, 2 Silver)
  • Total Medals – 7
    • Gold: 3
    • Silver: 3
    • Bronze: 1

22 1 560x315

22) Clas Thunberg, Finland

  • Sport: Speed Skating
  • Olympic Games: 2 (1924, 1928)
  • Best Olympics: 1924 Chamonix – 5 Medals (3 Gold, 1 Silver, 1 Bronze)
  • Total Medals – 7
    • Gold: 5
    • Silver: 1
    • Bronze: 1

21 1 560x315

21) Ivar Ballangrud, Norway

  • Sport: Speed Skating
  • Olympic Games: 3 (1928, 1932, 1936)
  • Best Olympics: 1936 Garmisch-Partenkirchen – 4 Medals (3 Gold, 1 Silver)
  • Total Medals – 7
    • Gold: 4
    • Silver: 2
    • Bronze: 1

20 1 560x422

20) Eero Mantyranta, Finland

  • Sport: Cross-Country Skiing
  • Olympic Games: 4 (1960, 1964, 1968, 1972)
  • Best Olympics: 1964 Innsbruck – 3 Medals (2 Gold, 1 Silver)
  • Total Medals – 7
    • Gold: 3
    • Silver: 2
    • Bronze: 2

19 1 560x448

19) Kjetil Andre Aamodt, Norway

  • Sport: Alpine Skiing
  • Olympic Games: 5 (1992, 1994, 1998, 2002, 2006)
  • Best Olympics: 1994 Lillehammer – 3 Total Medals (2 Silver, 1 Bronze)
  • Total Medals – 8
    • Gold: 4
    • Silver: 2
    • Bronze: 2

18 1 560x255

18) Galina Kulakova, Soviet Union

  • Sport: Cross-Country Skiing
  • Olympic Games: 4 (1968, 1972, 1976, 1980)
  • Best Olympics: 2006 Torino – 4 Total Medals (3 Gold, 1 Bronze)
  • Total Medals – 8
    • Gold: 4
    • Silver: 2
    • Bronze: 2

17 1 560x323

17) Viktor Ahn, South Korea/Russia

  • Sport: Short Track Speed Skating
  • Olympic Games: 3 (2002, 2006, 2014)
  • Best Olympics:
  • Total Medals – 8
    • Gold: 6
    • Bronze: 2

16 1 560x373

16) Ireen Wust, Netherlands

  • Sport: Speed Skating
  • Olympic Games: 3 (2006, 2010, 2014)
  • Best Olympics: 2014 Sochi – 5 Medals (2 Gold, 3 Silver)
  • Total Medals – 8
    • Gold: 4
    • Silver: 3
    • Bronze: 1

15 1 560x420

15) Gunda Niemann-Stirnemann, Germany

  • Sport: Speed Skating
  • Olympic Games: 4 (1988, 1992, 1994, 1998)
  • Best Olympics: 1992 Albertville – 3 Medals (2 Gold, 1 Silver)
  • Total Medals – 8
    • Gold: 3
    • Silver: 4
    • Bronze: 1

14 1 560x314

14) Ricco Gross, Germany

  • Sport: Biathlon
  • Olympic Games: 5 (1992, 1994, 1998, 2002, 2006)
  • Best Olympics: 1992 Albertville – 2 Medals (1 Gold, 1 Silver)
  • Total Medals – 8
    • Gold: 4
    • Silver: 3
    • Bronze: 1

13 1 560x303

13) Karin Enke-Kania, East Germany

  • Sport: Speed Skating
  • Olympic Games: 3 (1980, 1984, 1988)
  • Best Olympics: 1984 Sarajevo – 4 Medals (2 Gold, 2 Silver)
  • Total Medals – 8
    • Gold: 3
    • Silver: 4
    • Bronze: 1

12 1 560x611

12) Sven Fischer, Germany

  • Sport: Biathlon
  • Olympic Games: 4 (1994, 1998, 2002, 2006)
  • Best Olympics: 2006 Torino – 3 Medals (2 Gold, 1 Bronze)
  • Total Medals – 8
    • Gold: 4
    • Silver: 2
    • Bronze: 2

11 1 560x420

 

11) Apolo Anton Ohno, United States

  • Sport: Short Track Speed Skating
  • Olympic Games: 3 (2002, 2006, 2010)
  • Best Olympics: 2006 Torino – 3 Medals (1 Gold, 2 Bronze)
  • Total Medals – 8
    • Gold: 2
    • Silver: 2
    • Bronze: 4

10 1 560x446

10) Sven Kramer, Netherlands

  • Sport: Speed Skating
  • Olympic Games: 4 (2006, 2010, 2014, 2018)
  • Best Olympics: 2014 Sochi – 3 Medals (2 Gold, 1 Silver)
  • Olympic Records: 2 (5,000 m, Team Pursuit)
  • World Records: 4 (3,000 m, 5,000 m, 10,000 m, Team Pursuit)
  • Total Medals – 8
    • Gold: 4
    • Silver: 2
    • Bronze: 2

25 1 560x373

9) Sixten Jernberg, Sweden

  • Sport: Cross-Country Skiing
  • Olympic Games: 3 (1952, 1960, 1964)
  • Best Olympics: 1956 Cortina d’Ampezzo – 4 Medals (1 Gold, 2 Silver, 1 Bronze)
  • Total Medals – 9
    • Gold : 4
    • Silver: 3
    • Bronze: 2

9 1 560x418

8) Lyubov Yegorova, Unified Team

  • Sport: Cross-Country Skiing
  • Olympic Games: 3 (1992, 1994, 2002)
  • Best Olympics: 1992 Albertville – 5 Medals (3 Gold, 2 Silver)
  • Total Medals – 9
    • Gold: 6
    • Silver: 3

8 1 560x317

7) Uschi Disl, Germany

  • Sport: Biathlon
  • Olympic Games: 5 (1992, 1994, 1998, 2002, 2006)
  • Best Olympics: 1998 Nagano – 3 Medals (1 Gold, 1 Silver, 1 Bronze)
  • Total Medals – 9
    • Gold: 2
    • Silver: 4
    • Bronze: 3

7 1 560x315

6) Claudia Pechstein, Germany

  • Sport: Speed Skating
  • Olympic Games: 6 (1992, 1994, 1998, 2002, 2006, 2014)
  • Best Olympics: 2002 Salt Lake City – 2 Medals (2 Gold)
  • Total Medals – 9
    • Gold: 5
    • Silver: 2
    • Bronze: 2

6 1 560x370

After spending your life training to become an international speed skating champion, what else can you do? Claudia Pechstein went back to Germany and became a sergeant in the German Federal Police. She is also training to become an Olympic cyclist.

5) Stefania Belmondo, Italy

  • Sport: Cross-Country Skiing
  • Olympic Games: 5 (1988, 1992, 1994, 1998, 2002)
  • Best Olympics: 2002 Salt Lake City – 3 Medals (1 Gold, 1 Silver, 1 Bronze)
  • Total Medals – 10
    • Gold: 2
    • Silver: 3
    • Bronze: 5

5 1 560x351

Before injuring her right hallux, Stefania Belmondo was on a roll in international competition. So when she returned a few months later, she shocked the world by becoming an even stronger champion and in 2002 dominated the Salt Lake City Olympics.

4) Marit Bjorgen, Norway

  • Sport: Cross-Country Skiing
  • Olympic Games: 4 (2002, 2006, 2010, 2014)
  • Best Olympics: 2010 Vancouver – 5 Medals (3 Gold, 1 Silver, 1 Bronze)
  • Total Medals – 10
    • Gold: 6
    • Silver: 3
    • Bronze: 1

4 1 560x315

With 112 wins, 178 podiums, 5 overall titles, and 10 Olympic medals, Marit Bjorgen has become one of the most successful Cross Country skiers all time.

3) Raisa Smetanina, Soviet Union

  • Sport: Cross-Country Skiing
  • Olympic Games: 5 (1976, 1980, 1984, 1988, 1992)
  • Best Olympics: 1976 Innsbruck –  3 Medals (2 Gold, 1 Silver)
  • Total Medals – 10
    • Gold: 4
    • Silver: 5
    • Bronze: 1

3 1

Raisa Smetanina was the first woman to break the ten medal milestone when she did so back in 1992. At the time, she was also the oldest woman to win a Gold medal at the Winter Olympics. She was 40 years old at the time.

2) Bjorn Daehlie, Norway

  • Sport: Cross-Country Skiing
  • Olympic Games: 3 (1992, 1994, 1998)
  • Best Olympics: 1992 Albertville – 4 Medals (3 Gold, 1 Silver)
  • Total Medals – 12
    • Gold: 8
    • Silver: 4

2 1 560x315

The Olympian side of Bjorn Daehlie’s career is impressive on its’ own but when you also take a look at his overall body of work, you will be even more impressed. He has six overall titles in Cross-Country Skiing including 46 wins and 2 discipline titles.

1) Ole Einar Bjorndalen, Norway

  • Sport: Biathlon
  • Olympic Games: 6 (1994, 1998, 2002, 2006, 2010, 2014)
  • Best Olympics: 2002 Salt Lake City – 4 Gold Medals
  • Total Medals – 13
    • Gold: 8
    • Silver: 4
    • Bronze: 1

1 1 560x374

Besides being the most medaled Olympian in Winter Olympics history, Ole Einar is also the greatest Biathlete of all time, winning 45 medals and 95 World Cup wins. His dominance is truly something seen only once in a lifetime.