During the 2012 Summer Olympics in London, it was hard to miss 100-meter American hurdler Lolo Jones. Beautiful and a savvy self-promoter with a heart-wrenching childhood story, Jones was already high on the media’s radar, but then she fell victim to a scathing New York Times opinion piece, which erupted into a media firestorm that included Jones crying on the Today Show, and this only magnified Jones’ celebrity. (Admittedly, anyone who knows anything track and field would have to argue that the Times piece was hyper-critical—it was a minor miracle that Jones even made the team in London, as she had spent about a year recovering from back surgery prior to the event.)
Given what you know about Jones, your brain may have exploded recently when you learned that she is looking to become one of the few athletes to ever compete in both the summer and winter Olympic Games. Indeed, she is attempting to be named to one of three spots on the U.S. bobsled team that will head to Sochi, Russia, in February.
In honor of Lolo, here is a list of some athletes who have earned medals in some dual-seasonal competition—something that requires excellence and prowess in two sports instead of one. And as for Jones, if she does make it to Sochi and win a medal, it will be her first for any Olympics.
Summer: Light heavyweight boxing, gold
Winter: Four-man bobsled, gold
The only athlete to win gold medals in both the summer and winter Olympics for separate sports, Eagan won his first award as a light heavyweight boxer in Belgium. Then, just three weeks after picking up the sport, he took home another gold as a member of the four-man bobsled team in Lake Placid, New York, in 1932. How’s that for a one-two punch?
Christa Luding-Rothenburger—East Germany
Summer: Match sprint cycling, silver
Winter: Speed skating 500 meters and 1,000 meters, gold; at 500 meters, silver; at 500 meters, bronze
OK, so the East German steroid era aside, Luding-Rothenburger is the only athlete to ever win medals at both the winter and summer Games in the same year, which is currently not a possibility thanks to a two-year shift in the Winter Olympics schedule that happened in 1994. Luding-Rothenburger started out strictly as a speed skater, but her coach (who she’d later marry) encouraged her to take up cycling in the off-season.
Summer: Road race cycling, bronze, 1996; time trial cycling, bronze 1996
Winter: Speed skating 5,000 meters, bronze, 2010; speed skating 5,000 meters, gold, 2006; speed skating team pursuit, silver, 2006; speed skating 5,000 meters, bronze, 2002
This six-time Olympic medalist is the only athlete in history to win multiple medals in both the summer and winter Games. But her extra-curricular successes take centerfield during her short off-season—she’s a spokesperson for Bell Canada’s Mental Health initiative and is working to break the social stigma of mental illness, from which she’s suffered personally.
Summer and winter: Men’s figure skating, three gold, one silver
Grafstrom joins Eagan as the only athlete to have won gold at both the Summer and Winter games, though he won for the same discipline in both instances. (The 1920 Summer Olympics in Antwerp, Belgium, included a week of winter sports.) He’s the only male figure skater to take home the gold medal three times, though he had his fair share of troubles on the way to the podium—during his first Olympic Games, his skates broke and he had to buy himself a new, albeit inferior, pair. Despite this, he was still able to win gold. In 1932 he skated into a photographer and still placed second.
Jacob Tullin Thams—Norway
Summer: Eight-meter yachting, silver
Winter: Ski jumping, gold
The second athlete to ever win medals at both the summer and winter Games, Thames was touted as the world’s best ski jumper back in the mid-1920s, but he had a temper. At the 1928 Winter Olympics, four years after he won gold at the Winter Olympics in Chamonix, France, he was provoked by some Swiss skiers who accused the Norwegians of cowardice, so he abandoned a safe jumping distance and landed at 73 meters, almost 10 meters longer than any jump in the competition. Unfortunately, he didn’t stick it and ended up in the 28th place.
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