A winner of seven Overall World Cup Championships, Jansen was, naturally, a perennial favorite at the Winter Olympics; but, time and again, personal circumstances, unfortunate falls, and plain bad luck would thwart his attempts at an Olympic medal. Between the 1992 and 1994 Olympics, Jansen was the only skater to break 36 seconds in the 500 meters, doing so four times. In 1994, Jansen won his second World Sprint Championship title, and he arrived at the 1994 Winter Olympics for one final attempt at an Olympic medal. In the 500-meter event, he finished eighth. With one Olympic race left in his storied career, the 1,000 meters, and crowd emotions running sky high, Jansen defied expectations and finished first, winning the first and only Olympic medal of his career, and setting a new world record in the process. He then received the ultimate honor, as he was chosen by his teammates to carry the American flag at the Closing Ceremony of the Winter Games in Lillehammer, Norway.
Dan Jansen was born on June 17, 1965. He is the youngest of nine children in a service-oriented family; the son of a policeman and a nurse. He has three sisters who are nurses; two of his four brothers are policemen; and, one is a firefighter. Inspired by his now deceased sister, Jane, he took up speed skating while growing up. He set a junior world record in the 500-meter race at age 16; and, finished 16thin the 1,000 meters and 4thin the 500 meters at the 1984 Winter Olympics while still in his teens. In 1988, Jansen became the World Sprint Champion, and was immediately off to the 1988 Winter Olympics where he was a favorite for the 500- and 1,000-meter races. In the early hours of February 14th, 1988, the day of the 500-meter event, Jansen was informed that his 27-year-old sister, Mrs. Jane Marie Beres, was dying of leukemia. Jansen spoke to her on the phone but was unable to receive a response. A few hours later, Jansen was notified of his sister’s death. He went on to compete in the 500-meter race that afternoon but fell in the first turn. Thus began Dan’s sometimes sad, sometimes desperate, but always determined attempt to win Olympic Gold. Four days later in the 1,000-meter event, he began with record-breaking speed but fell again, just past the 800-meter mark. He left the 1988 Olympics with no medals but became the recipient of the U.S. Olympic Spirit Award for his valiant efforts.
Dan is a 4-time Olympic team member; and, an 8-time World Record Holder in the 500m and 1000m Sprints. He is the holder of 46 World Cup victories and more than 100 World Cup medals; the winner of 20 World Championship medals; a 7-time Overall World Cup Champion; and, a 2-time World Sprint Champion. He is a 2004 inductee into the U. S. Olympic Hall of Fame; a Skating Coach for the NHL Chicago Blackhawks from 2005 to 2007; and, an Announcer for the Winter Olympics on NBC starting in 1998. Dan established the Dan Jansen Foundation in 1994, which contributes to youth sports, educational programs, and victims and families afflicted with leukemia and its related cancers. He is the 1995 recipient of the James E. Sullivan Award, presented annually to the outstanding amateur athlete in the United States. He is an accomplished motivational speaker and an experienced television broadcaster whose credits include: Five Winter Olympic Games; and, Turner Television’s Summer and Winter Goodwill Games. Dan is married and has two daughters. His wife, Karen Palacios-Jansen, is an LPGA Teaching Professional and a leader in the golf industry. Dan’s appearance at the 2018 Festival is sponsored by McDonald’s; and was arranged by Nick and Kathy Nerangis.