Top 10 Most Successful Winter Olympians

The following ten athletes are the most succesful olympians on the Winter Olympics, looking at the number of (gold) medals they have won.

10. Eric Heiden – 5x Gold

eric heiden
photo: Anefo / Croes, R.C.

In 1980 Eric Heiden, an American speed-skater, set a world record, and four Olympic records, at the US Winter Olympics. Winning five golds, he was also the most successful competitor at these Games. A speed-skating idol, Heiden’s achievement – winning gold in all five speed-skating categories – has never been bettered within the sport.

9. Bonnie Blair – 5x Gold, 1x Bronze

Bonnie Blair

Long regarded for her technique and fearsome training regime, American speed-skater Bonnie Blair faced tough East German competition early in her career. Then she took gold and a bronze at the Calgary Games in 1988, following this with two golds at Albertville, France, in 1992, before again ruling the track at Lillehammer, Norway.

8. Thomas Alsgaard – 5x Gold, 1x Silver

Thomas Alsgaard

A Norwegian cross-country skier, Thomas Alsgaard enjoys a reputation as a master technician and top performer in cross-country skiing’s skate-style. Achieving his initial success at Norway’s Lillehammer games in 1994 – securing a freestyle gold – Alsgaard went on to gain 15 medals in both World Ski Championships and Olympic events. After a highly successful career, he retired in 2003.

7. Clas Thunberg – 5x Gold, 1x Silver, 1x Bronze

Clas Thunberg

Thunberg, a world champion on five occasions, entered international skating at the age of 28, as a competitor in the world championships of 1922. Then he competed in the (1994) Chamonix Winter Olympics in France, securing a silver, bronze, and three gold medals. A challenger also at Saint Moritz, Switzerland, in 1928, Thunberg took gold, plus another shared gold, before retiring in 1935.

6. Larisa Lazutina – 5x Gold, 1x Silver, 1x Bronze

Laris Lazutina

Larisa Lazutina is a Russian cross country skier who represented her country at several Winter Olympic venues. Her most successful period was during 1998 at the Japanese Winter Games in Nagano. Here, in ski events, she took a silver, bronze, and five gold medals, making her the most successful winter-Olympian at those Games. She received a drug-ban later in her career.

5. Claudia Pechstein – 5x Gold, 2x Silver, 2x Bronze

Claudia Pechstein
photo: McSmit / Wikicommons

German speed skater Claudia Pechstein is the most successful Olympic speed skater in the world, and also the only female winter-disciplines athlete to secure medals in five consecutive Olympics – as she did between 1992 and 2006. First, in 1992, she gained a bronze medal; then, in 1994–2002, she took three consecutive women’s titles at 5,000 metres; before capturing another silver at the 2002 Games.

4. Lidia Skoblikova – 6x Gold

Lidiya Skoblikova
photo: Koch, Eric / Anefo

Lidiya Skoblikova has now retired as a Russian speed skater, to become a coach. As an Olympic competitor, she represented the USSR in 1960 and 1964. During those Olympic Winter Games, her overall tally of gold medals was six – still a standout speed-skating achievement. In addition, she also secured another 25 world-championship golds, and a further 15 golds, over several distances, at the USSR’s championship events.

3. Lyubov Yegorova – 6x Gold, 3x Silver

Lyubov Yegorova

The most successful athlete at two Winter Olympics, former Russian cross-country Olympic ski champion Lyubov Yegorova has become a highly honoured athlete in her native country. Also a world champion on several occasions, Lyubov Yegorova competed in the 1992 Games at Albertville, France, and also in the 1994 Games at Lillehammer, Norway. She has also won honours at the Nordic World Ski Championships.

2. Ole Einar Bjørndalen – 6x Gold, 4x Silver, 1x Bronse

Ole Einar Bjørndalen
photo: Tor Atle Kleven / Flickr

A professional Nordic biathlete, Ole Einar Bjørndalen appeared in his debut World Cup during 1993, gaining his first victory a year later at Bad Gastein, Austria. Now a highly successful competitor, Bjørndalen has an astounding medal haul in all forms of competition. He remains the only biathlete to scoop every available biathlon medal, as he did at the Salt Lake City Winter Olympics in 2002.

1. Bjørn Dæhlie – 8x Gold, 4x Silver

Bjørn Dæhlie
photo: Per Løchen / Nettavisen.no

The most successful winter Olympic cross-country ski champion ever, Bjørn Erlend Dæhlie is now a high-profile retired athlete. In addition to his eight Olympic golds and four silvers, Dæhlie took a further 21 World Championship competition medals during his career in a period encompassing the years from 1991 to 1999. He is undoubtedly an all-time élite male skier.