The PyoeongChang Olympic Games are just around the corner, and Jews across the globe are lacing up their skates, strapping on their helmets, and, I don’t know, polishing their curling brooms? Regardless, Israel is sending its largest delegation ever, and multiple Americans are competing in everything from skeleton to figure skating.
But before we move forward to new, icy heights (peaks?), let’s take a step back and look at some the great moments in Jewish Winter Olympic history.
Irving Jaffee becomes the first Jew to medal at the Winter Olympics
I’ve written about Jaffee before, but just as a recap: In 1932, Jaffee won two gold medals in speed skating to get the Tribe on the board at the Lake Placid Winter Olympics. Jaffee was going fast, but not so fast that he didn’t see signs that read, “No dogs or Jews allowed.” 1932…different time! Anyway, at 4:07 in the video below, you can see some grainy footage of Jaffee winning the 10,000 meter race.
Brother-sister figure skating team takes home bronze
Vivian and Ronald Joseph originally won fourth place at the 1964 Games in Innsbruck, but the German team that had won the silver was later disqualified, so they were bumped up to bronze. Woo! Check them out in a clip below, competing as the reigning U.S. junior champions.
Yuriy Liapkin brings home the gold
Liapkin was a standout defenseman on the 1976 Soviet team that was as dominant as any hockey team in Olympic history; they outscored their opponents 40-11, including a 16-1 shellacking of Poland. Below, watch him put an absolute zinger in the back of the net during the famed 1972 Super Series, a matchup that pitted the best Canadian players, professional or not, against Liapkin and the Soviet Union.
Sarah Hughes has the skate of her life
Hughes had never taken home a gold medal at a major competition entering the 2002 Salt Lake Games. After a respectable short program, The Great Neck native conquered both the long program and the free skate, taking home the gold in a crowded field.
Cohen just barely misses the gold
You knew we weren’t getting out of here without talking about Sasha Cohen. Cohen was the U.S. champion heading into the Games, but after a disastrous free skate, she finished second behind Shizuka Arakawa, just barely missing the top spot.