Dan Jansen

For the Canadian ice sledge hockey player, see Dan Jansen (sledge hockey). For the professional baseball player, see Danny Jansen.
Dan Jansen
Personal information
Full name Daniel Erwin Jansen
Nationality American
Born June 17, 1965 (1965-06-17) (age 51)
West Allis, Wisconsin, U.S.
Height 1.88 m (6 ft 2 in)
Weight 83 kg (183 lb)
Website Dan Jansen official website
Country United States
Sport Speed skating
Turned pro 1982
Retired 1994
Achievements and titles
Personal best(s) 500 m: 35.76 (1994)
1000 m: 1:12.43 (1994)
1500 m: 1:55.62 (1993)
3000 m: 4:25.63 (1983)
5000 m: 7:50.22 (1982)

Daniel Erwin "Dan" Jansen (born June 17, 1965) is a retired American speed skater. A multiple world champion in sprint and perennial favorite at the Winter Olympics, he won a gold medal in his final race (1,000 meters) in the 1994 Winter Olympics at the end of his career.

Early career

Dan Jansen is the youngest of nine children born to Geraldine (née Grajek) Jansen (b. 1928), a nurse,[1] and Harry Jansen (1928–2015), who retired from the police department as a lieutenant detective. His family is Roman Catholic. His three remaining sisters are all nurses. Two of his four brothers are policemen and one is a firefighter. He graduated from West Allis Central High School. Inspired by his sister Jane (1960–1988), he took up speed skating while growing up. He set a junior world record in the 500-meter race at age 16, and finished 16th in the 1,000 meters and fourth in the 500 meters at the 1984 Winter Olympics.[2]

Competitive history

In 1988, Jansen became the World Sprint Champion, then he was 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 14, 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.

Jansen went on to compete in the 500-meter race that afternoon but fell in the first turn. 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. In the 1992 Winter Olympics in Albertville, he finished fourth in the 500 meters and 26th in the 1,000 meters, and left the games with no medals. In 1993, Jansen set a world record in the 500-meter event and was cast as a favorite to win the gold medal in the event at the 1994 Winter Olympics in Lillehammer.

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. In preparation for the 1,000-meter event, he was coached by Peter Mueller, who won the same event in the 1976 Winter Olympics. Jansen defied expectations and finished first, winning his first and only Olympic medal of his career, while setting a new world record in the process. He received the 1994 James E. Sullivan Award and was chosen by his fellow Olympians to bear the U.S. flag at the closing ceremony of the 1994 Winter Olympics. He was elected to the Wisconsin Athletic Hall of Fame in 1995.

Personal life

Jansen has two daughters from his first marriage to Robin Wicker. His second wife, Karen Palacios, is a top golf teaching professional. He was inducted into the United States Olympic Hall of Fame in 2004. Today, Dan Jansen is a speed skating commentator for NBC, and, from 2005–07, he was the skating coach for the Chicago Blackhawks of the National Hockey League.

He established the Dan Jansen Foundation in memory of his sister, with the purpose of fighting leukemia. He is an honorary board member of the Multiple Myeloma Research Foundation.[3]


World records

Over the course of his career, Jansen set eight world records in speed skating:

Event Time Date Venue
500 m 0.36,41 January 25, 1992 Davos
500 m 36.41 March 19, 1993 Calgary
500 m 36.02 March 20, 1993 Calgary
Sprint combination 145.580 March 20, 1993 Calgary
500 m 35.92 December 4, 1993 Hamar
500 m 35.76 January 30, 1994 Calgary
Sprint combination 144.815 January 30, 1994 Calgary
1000 m 1.12,43 February 18, 1994 Hamar

Source: SpeedSkatingStats.com[4]

Personal records

Distance Result Date Location
500 m 35.76 January 30, 1994 Calgary
1000 m 1:12.43 February 18, 1994 Hamar
1500 m 1:55.62 March 14, 1993 Heerenveen
3000 m 4:25.63 March 5, 1983 Sarajevo
5000 m 7:50.22 February 7, 1982 Inzell

Source: SpeedskatingResults.com[5]


  1. Obituary for Margaret Grajek Jankowski (Jansen's maternal aunt), legacy.com; accessed July 10, 2015.
  2. Obituary for Harry Jansen, legacy.com; accessed July 10, 2015.
  3. "MMRF Honorary Board". Archived from the original on August 20, 2009. Retrieved July 10, 2015.
  4. "Dan Jansen". SpeedSkatingStats.com. Retrieved August 29, 2012.
  5. "Dan Jansen". SpeedskatingResults.com. Retrieved August 29, 2012.
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