Wisconsin has bred its fair share of star athletes over the years. This great state fostered Baseball Hall of Famers Al Simmons, Kid Nichols, Addie Joss, and Burleigh Grimes. Wisconsin natives Elroy Hirsch, Tuffy Leemans, Blood McNally, and Bud Grant tackled their way to the Football Hall of Fame. University of Wisconsin-Madison standouts Alan Ameche and Ron Dayne brought home the Heisman Trophy. Plenty of current athletes like Matt Kenseth, Danica Patrick, Steve Stricker, and Tony Romo also have roots in the dairy state. But no Wisconsin native has been more legendary in his sport than speed skater Eric Heiden.
Eric Heiden started his dominant run in the late 70s, but it was at the 1980 Winter Olympic Games where he gained legendary status. He became the only athlete in history to win all five men’s speed skating events, and five individual gold medals. He also set four Olympic records and one world record.
Eric is considered by many to be the greatest speed skater of all-time, skating 15 world records over his career. ESPN ranked him 46th in the Sports Century 50 Greatest Athletes of the 20th Century, the only speed skater on the list.
Doua Vue – St Paul, MN (Originally from La Crosse, WI)
“I wasn’t even born yet when Eric Heiden made history in the 1980 Olympic games, and honestly, I had no idea who he was before doing some research. I watched Michael Phelps win his gold medals, but before him, a Madison native was the first person to win five individual gold medals in a single Olympic games. CRAZY! His 27-inch thighs might have helped a little.”