Print and Go Back ESPN.com: Page 2 [Print without images]

Thursday, February 14, 2002
Updated: February 18, 1:08 PM ET
Dan Jansen

Page 2 staff

Sure, he's no Apolo (Ohno), but eight years after his heroic gold medal triumph, Dan Jansen is still a figure skating god.
Bonnie Blair and Dan Jansen
Bonnie Blair and Dan Jansen

And just when he thought life couldn't get any better, Dan Jansen moved from gold medal to Page 2's 10 Burning Questions.

Considered the world's best speedskater in the late 1980s and early '90s, Jansen failed to pair his immense success on the world circuit with an Olympic medal. Three times Jansen entered as the favorite in the 500 meters and three times Jansen fell, the first, in the '88 Calgary Games, shortly after learning of his sister's death from leukemia. After stumbling in the 500 in the '94 Lillehamer Games, Jansen stunned the world, setting a world record in the 1,000 meters, his final race, and gave the Tonya and Nancy Olympics the feel-good story of the Games. Jansen capped his emotional win with one of the Olympics' most famous victory laps, cradling his daughter, Jane, whom he named after his sister.

Jansen now lives in Mooresville, N.C., with his wife Karen Palacios and is heavily involved in the Dan Jansen Foundation, which raises money for leukemia patients. But before Jansen could get to the Olympics this year, this time as a commentator appearing on "another network," Page 2's Ray Holloman slowed down the iced oval's king of speed.

1. On Feb. 18, 1994, the day before you finally won the gold in the 1,000-meter speedskating event, what would you have rated as more likely -- you finally winning a medal, or Tom Arnold picking up Anna Kournikova in a bar?

Dan Jansen: Between those two scenarios, I pretty much think I had the gold before I ever started. I was one of the favorites going in, I knew I was capable, but the way things had been going for me, it was tough to be real positive any more. I finally told myself, "Just don't expect things anymore, and just go out and see what happens." It worked.

Is there any way to quantify how different your life is now as a gold medal winner rather than being a member of that (formerly) Susan Lucci, (still) Buffalo Bills hard-luck club?

Jeremy Wotherspoon
Jeremy Wotherspoon squeezes into the skin.
Jansen: It's hard to say, you just don't know how things would have turned out otherwise. It's strange, that 1 minute and 12 seconds. It didn't change who I am. I'm the same person, but life is different.

2. Recently a member of the Canadian speed skating team donned a skin so see-through that it revealed her underwear. What would go on Dan Jansen's butt? Coke, Pepsi, Chico's Bail Bonds?

Jansen: Advertising on someone's underwear is just going to far; I'm not in favor of it. If there were anything on my butt, it would probably say, "If you don't want an ass this big, get in the gym now," and I'd sell it to a diet company.

Could anything be more distracting in a race than staring directly at a giant Norwegian ass?

Jansen: Well, that all depends if it's male or female.

The skating skins are awfully tight ... are you ever worried about the fact there isn't much room to, ya know, hide Dan Jansen?

Dan Jansen, Jane Jansen
Jansen and daughter Jane after winning the 1,000 meters in 1994.
Jansen: You get over that real quick ... it's kind of embarrassing, but it's just part of the job. Besides, we like to think of it this way -- it's better than having to wear a Speedo.

3. Worse crime perpetrated on humanity by 1994: Ace of Base or the continuation of "Saved by the Bell" with "Saved By the Bell, the College Years"?

Jansen: I'll go with the Ace of Base. Being in Olympic training, sadly here, does not mean that you're cut off from pop culture. We definitely heard "The Sign," and ... yeah.

4. You play in a lot of celebrity golf tournaments. Be honest, is your golf game more like Ty Webb or Al Czervik?

Jansen: In playing non-tournaments, I'm all about Ty Webb, but whenever I'm playing in tournaments, I'm definitely more like Al without the clubs. I hope to be Judge Smails. But I'm still working on it.

Bonnie Blair
Blair with her 500- and 1,000-meter golds in 1992.
5. You and Bonnie Blair will always be linked together as the world's greatest speedskaters in the late '80s, early '90s, but you two also grew to be good friends. Being friends with someone famous requires us at Page 2 to ask the following question: What's your most embarrassing Bonnie Blair story?

Jansen: I don't have a story, per se, but we always used to tease her, because she was the absolute worst knowing bands and music. It became a joke, the easiest song would come on the radio, and we'd be like, "Hey, Bonnie who's this?" and she wouldn't know. It became a running joke between us.

I will say, too, that Bonnie got me really good without her knowing it. After I won the gold medal the President called me and later his wife called ...

Wait, you mean Bill and Hillary Clinton called at separate times? That the two might not have been together?

Tom Cruise
Tom Cruise
Jansen: Yeah, shocking I know. Anyway, Bonnie finally called me, but by that point I was in the doping room trying to pee into a cup, which just isn't the best time to be receiving phone calls.

6. Matt Keeslar played you in the made-for-TV movie about your life. Now I realize it was a made-for-TV film and therefore restricted in budget, but did you ever during casting just interject Tom Cruise in the conversation? Arnold Schwarzenegger?

Jansen: It wasn't up to me. Matt did a great job in that film; I liked him. But when they were planning, there was definitely some part of me that wanted to see someone suggest Tom Cruise to play me.

Eric Heiden
Eric Heiden
7. Eric Heiden went on to a career as a cyclist after speedskating and later became a doctor. What's the matter, you can't at least get a night desk job at the local Double Tree Inn or something?

Jansen: I just can't find myself a good day job. I applied for the whole doctor thing, but I didn't get it. There's always the PGA Tour ... that's for me. My wife's a pro, so I already have a built-in teacher.

8. What's your favorite Olympic moment other than those you were involved in?

Jansen: I'd say Eric Heiden, but that's too easy. Actually, I'm going to go with Bonnie Blair, when she won her first 500 in Calgary in 1988. It was huge not only as a friend, but for women's speedskating in general, because Bonnie proved that the East German women could be beaten.

Muhammad Ali
Muhammad Ali
9. If you could invite any three people to dinner, including a former Olympian -- living or dead -- who would they be and what would you serve?

Jansen: Let's go with Muhammad Ali, and I'd serve whatever he requested. I would be fascinated by him. I've met him, and I think I would be fascinated by the stories and what he went through and the things he did out of the ring. Everything he did was so big, the brash stuff he did back then. When people do it today, I'm disgusted, but when he did it, I knew there was something behind it. He had a purpose and did it his way.

I'd also like to have ... I don't have a particular name, but somebody who traveled across the country from east to west back in the mid 19th century. My favorite book is "Lonesome Dove," and I'm really fascinated by the whole Wild West motif.

And for the Olympian, I'd invite Jesse Owens, simply because I have a feeling at the time he may not have realized the impact he was having or would eventually have on the idea of the political versus the sports world.

Jesse Owens
Jesse Owens
10. If you could pick one superpower -- ability to fly, ability to be invisible, or strength of 100 men -- which would you pick and why?

Jansen: I'd like to use them all at different times. I'd probably take the ability to be invisible. Sometimes, I really feel like I'd like to be invisible at certain times and do my thing. I like to be on my own a lot and that would be a good way to be alone.

And that has nothing to do with the ability to sneak into the figure skaters' dressing rooms?

Jansen: Nope, nothing at all.

And that denial has nothing to do with your wife standing nearby?

Jansen: No comment.