Eric Arthur Heiden
(born June 14 1958
in Madison, Wisconsin
) is an American former long track speed skater
who won all the men's speed skating races, and thus an unprecedented five individual gold medals, and set four Olympic records and one world record at the 1980 Winter Olympic Games
in Lake Placid, New York
, United States
. He also took the Athlete's Oath
at those same games.
Heiden is an icon in the speedskating community and, in particular, in Europe where the sport is highly regarded. His victories are significant as few speed skaters (and athletes in general) have won competitions in both sprint and long-distance events. He is considered by some to be the best overall speedskater (short and long distances) in the sport's history. Heiden ranked #46 in ESPN's SportsCentury 50 Greatest Athletes of the 20th Century in 1999, the only speed skater to make the list.
During his short speed skating career, Heiden won 3 World Allround Championships
and 4 World Sprint Championships
Three times, Heiden broke the world record in the 1,000 metres, twice in the 3,000 metres, and once each in the 1,500 metres and 10,000 metres. He also broke the points world record in both allround and the sprinting distances.
Heiden finished his speed skating career by finishing second behind Hilbert van der Duim at the 1980 World Allround Championships in Heerenveen. Heiden stood at the top place of the Adelskalender for an impressive time period of 1,495 days, and won the Oscar Mathisen Award four times in a row from 1977 until 1980. As of 2006, he still is the only skater who has won the award four times.
He received the 1980 James E. Sullivan Award as the top amateur athlete in the United States. In 1983, he was inducted into the United States Olympic Hall of Fame.
Over the course of Heiden's career he skated 15 world records
- 1500-m junior, 2:02.75 (18 January 1976, Madonna di Campiglio; beaten by Heiden)
- 5000-m junior, 7:30.23 (20 February 1977, Inzell; beaten by Heiden)
- 1500-m junior, 1:59.46 (20 February 1977; beaten by Aleksandr Klimov 24 March 1983)
- Allround junior, 168.716 (19-20 February 1977, Inzell; beaten by Heiden)
- 3000-m junior, 4:16.2 (4 February 1977, Montreal; beaten by Tomas Gustafson 26 January 1980)
- Allround junior, 166.584 (4-5 February 1977, Montreal; beaten by Aleksand Klimov 24 March 1983)
- 5000-m junior, 7:23.54 (5 February 1978, Montreal; beaten by Tomas Gustafson 27 January 1980)
- 3000-m, 4:07.00 (2 March 1978, Inzell; beaten by Heiden)
- 1000-m, 1:14.99 (12 March 1978, Savalen; beaten by Heiden)
- 1000-m, 1:13.60 (13 January 1980, Davos; beaten by Gaetan Boucher, 31 January 1981)
- Allround, 162.973 (10-11 February 1980, Bislett, Oslo; beaten by Viktor Shasherin, 25-26 March 1983)
- 3000-m, 4:06.91 (18 March 1979, Savalen; beaten by Dmitri Ogloblin 28 March 1979)
- Sprint, 150.250 (12-13 January 1980, Davos; beaten by Gaetan Boucher 30-31 January 1980)
- 1500-m, 1:54.79 (19 January 1980, Davos; beaten by Igor Zhelezovski 26 March 1983)
- 10,000-m, 14:28.13 (23 February 1980, Lake Placid; beaten by Dmitri Ogloblin 29 March 1980)
Road bicycle racing
After his speed-skating career, Heiden became a professional racing cyclist
. He was one of the first cross-over athletes, becoming a founding member of the 7-Eleven Cycling Team
. Together with his former speed skating coach (and ex-bike racer), Jim Ochowicz, he conceived of the idea of a European-style sponsored team for North American riders.
Heiden won a few American professional races and took part in the 1986 Tour de France
, although he did not complete the race as he fell five days from the finish.
Heiden is believed to hold the unofficial record on one of the local benchmark climbs in Woodside, California: Old la Honda Rd. In 1985, Heiden won the first US Professional Cycling Championship and thus became the American road race champion.
In 1999, Heiden was inducted into the United States Bicycling Hall of Fame.
After starting his undergraduate education at the University of Wisconsin-Madison
, Heiden earned a Bachelor of Science degree from Stanford University
in 1984 and earned his M.D.
, also from Stanford, in 1991. He began practicing as an orthopedic surgeon
in Sacramento, California. At that time, he also served as team physician for the NBA
's Sacramento Kings
and the Sacramento Monarchs
of the WNBA
. In 2002 and 2006, he was team physician for the U.S. Olympic Speedskating Team. He opened a sports medicine-based practice at The Orthopedic Specialty Hospital (TOSH) in Murray, Utah and has recently expanded Heiden Orthopaedics with an additional office in Park City, Utah.
He has followed in the footsteps of his father, Jack Heiden, a longtime orthopedic surgeon in Madison, Wisconsin. His sister Beth Heiden is also an accomplished speedskater and cross-country skier.