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Bonnie Blair was born March 18, 1964 in Cornwall, New York. She is one of the top female skaters of her time, and one of the most decorated female athletes in Olympic history.
Bonnie Blair was raised in Champaign, Illinois. She attended Jefferson Middle School. After graduation from Centennial High School in Champaign, she moved to the Milwaukee area to train with the United States national speed skating team.
Blair appeared at her first Olympic games in Sarajevo in 1984. She failed to medal but showed promise by finishing eighth in the 500 meters at only 19 years of age.
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 1000 (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 1000 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.
After the 1994 Olympics, Bonnie 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, Blair skated in her last race, and went out as a champion. On that day, Blair set the American record in the 1000 meters (1:18.05).
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.
In 2004, she was elected to the United States Olympic Hall of Fame. As of her induction, Blair is the most decorated United States winter Olympian of all time.
Blair also tried track cycle racing, and was coached by a former speed skater and cycling world champion, Connie Paraskevi.
Bonnie Blair grew up in a family of speed skaters, and began skating at age two. Like all her older siblings, she competed in skating races from a young age. She began training with coach Cathy Priestner. Blair nearly qualified for the 1980 Olympics though she had not participated in a timed race before 1979. With coach Mike Crowe, Blair prepared for the 1984 Olympics by training with the men's USA speed skating team in Butte, Montana. Funds for her training were raised by her hometown police department, in Champaign, Illinois.
She won no medals in 1984, but continued to train hard, and in 1988 won a gold medal in the 500m and bronze in the 1000m. She left skating after the Olympics, turning to cycling, but returned to the faster sport after just a few months. Blair won a world sprint title in 1989, and switched coaches, to Peter Mueller.
Bonnie Blair won the gold in the 500m in the 1992 Winter Olympics, the first time an American woman won gold medals in two consecutive Winter Olympics. She also won the gold in the 1000m. In 1996 she won gold, again, in the 500m and 1000m competitions.
She retired in 1995, after again breaking the 500m world record. Her Olympic success led to many endorsements.
Bonnie Blair is a popular motivational speaker. She has also coached the US women's speed skating team and has done sports commentary. Bonnie Blair was an Olympic torchbearer in 2002. She married speed skater Dave Cruikshank. They have two children.