Bonnie Blair

For the American actress Bonnie Blair Brown, see Blair Brown.
Bonnie Blair
Personal information
Nationality American
Born (1964-03-18) March 18, 1964
Cornwall, New York
Height 5 ft 5 in (1.65 m)
Weight 130 lb (59 kg)
Sport Speedskating
Turned pro 1984
Retired 1995

Bonnie Kathleen Blair (born March 18, 1964) is a retired American speedskater. She is one of the top skaters of her era, and one of the most decorated athletes in Olympic history. Blair competed for the United States in four Olympics, winning five gold medals and one bronze medal.

Early life

Blair was born in Cornwall, New York to Charlie and Eleanor Blair. She was the youngest of six children and was raised in Champaign, Illinois.[1] She attended Jefferson Middle School. After graduating from Centennial High School in Champaign,[2] she moved to the Milwaukee area to train with the United States national speed skating team.


1984, 1988, and 1992 Olympics

Blair appeared at her first Olympic games at age 19 in Sarajevo in 1984.[3] She failed to medal but finished eighth in the 500 meters.[4]

At the 1988 Winter Olympics in Calgary, Alberta, Blair had her best start ever in the 500 meters, winning the gold medal in world record time of 39.10 seconds. She also won the bronze in the 1,000 meters.[5]

Blair won the gold in both the 500 and 1,000 meters (1:21.90) at the 1992 Winter Olympics in Albertville, France.[6]

1994 Olympics

Blair took advantage of a change of Olympic rules. In 1986, the International Olympic Committee voted to stage the Winter Olympics and Summer Olympics in alternating four year cycles. Thus, the next Winter Games would be held in February 1994 rather than in February 1996. The 1994 Winter Olympics in Lillehammer, Norway, were a coronation of sorts for Blair: She again won gold in the 500 meters (39.25) and 1,000 (1:18.74) meters races, in dominating fashion. Blair finished 0.36 seconds ahead of the second best time in the 500 meters, and her 1.38 second margin in the 1,000 meters race is the largest margin of victory in the history of the event. In the process she became the first American woman to win five gold medals.[7] She also was the only American to have 6 medals at any Winter Olympics, a record that stood until Apolo Ohno tied it and then surpassed it at the 2010 Winter Olympics when he won a silver and two bronze medals in short track speed skating for eight career medals.

Outside the Olympics

After the 1994 Olympics, Blair continued to compete. In March 1994, Blair set another world record in the 500 meters, becoming the first female to complete the race in under 39 seconds (38.99). On March 18, 1995, she retired. Blair won several prestigious awards, including the 1992 James E. Sullivan Award, the 1992 Oscar Mathisen Award (being the first female winner of this award), the 1992 ABC's Wide World of Sports Athlete of the Year, and Sports Illustrated Sportsman of the Year, along with Johann Olav Koss, in 1994. She also was Female Athlete of the Year as selected by the Associated Press in 1994. Blair also won the World Cup points championship 11 times.

Blair also tried track cycle racing, and was coached by former speed skater and cycling world champion Connie Paraskevin.[8]

Blair also competed in short-track speed skating, becoming the Overall Short-track World Champion in 1986.

Recognition, personal life

Bonnie Blair on Azerbaijani postage stamp, 1995

She is a member of the Chicagoland Sports Hall of Fame and the Wisconsin Athletic Hall of Fame.[9] In 2004, she was elected to the United States Olympic Hall of Fame. At the time of her induction, Blair was the most decorated United States Winter Olympian of all time with 5 gold and one bronze (she is currently third to Apolo Ohno who has 2 gold, 2 silver and 4 bronze if equality of medals irrespective of colour is applied). She was awarded a star (#7) on The Flag for Hope on September 29, 2015 in recognition of her outstanding Speed Skating Career and philanthropic efforts. [10][11] She is married to fellow Olympic speedskater Dave Cruikshank, with whom she has a son, Grant, and daughter, Blair.[12]

See also


  1. Woolum, Janet (1998). Outstanding Women Athletes. Greenwood Publishing Group. pp. 90–92.
  2. Nelson, Murry (2013). American Sports: A History of Icons, Idols, and Ideas. ABC-CLIO. p. 137.
  3. Nelson, Murry (2013). American Sports: A History of Icons, Idols, and Ideas. ABC-CLIO. p. 137.
  4. Woolum, Janet (1998). Outstanding Women Athletes. Greenwood Publishing Group. pp. 90–92.
  5. Woolum, Janet (1998). Outstanding Women Athletes. Greenwood Publishing Group. p. 91.
  6. Nelson, Murry (2013). American Sports: A History of Icons, Idols, and Ideas. ABC-CLIO. p. 137.
  7. Nelson, Murry (2013). American Sports: A History of Icons, Idols, and Ideas. ABC-CLIO. p. 137.
  8. "SPORTS WORLD SPECIALS: CYCLING; A Smooth-as-Ice Switch". New York Times. 5 June 1989.
  9. Hall of Fame Members
  10. "Bonnie Blair – Flag for Hope Star #7". Flag for Hope. 2016-10-21. Retrieved 2016-10-21.
  12. "Bonnie Blair: Biography from". Archived from the original on February 21, 2010. Retrieved 2010-02-21.

External links

Preceded by
Norway Johann Olav Koss
Oscar Mathisen Award
Succeeded by
Netherlands Falko Zandstra
Preceded by
Romania Nadia Comăneci
Flo Hyman Memorial Award
Succeeded by
United States Monica Seles
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