Speed skaters Bonnie Blair of the United States and Johann Olav Koss of Norway were selected Sportswoman and Sportsman of the Year by Sports Illustrated today.
Blair, who lives and trains in the Milwaukee area, is the most successful U.S. Olympic woman athlete ever and the nation's winningest Winter Olympian. The 30-year-old has won six career Olympic medals - five gold and one bronze.Her first gold medal came at the Calgary Olympics in 1988 in setting a world record of 39.10 seconds in the 500 meters that still stands. She added a bronze in the 1,000 meters that year.
Blair won gold medals in the 500 and 1,000 meters in Albertville in 1992. During this year's Olympics in Lillehammer, she won gold in those events again - the first woman to win three gold medals in the 500 meters.
In winning six medals, Blair surpassed Eric Heiden, who won five speed skating events at the 1980 Winter Games, as the most successful U.S. Winter Olympian. Her five gold medals made her the most successful U.S. Olympic woman athlete, surpassing sprinter Evelyn Ashford, swimmer Janet Evans and diver Pat McCormick - all with four golds.
Koss, 25, won gold medals in Lillehammer in the 1,500-, 5,000-and 10,000-meter events, all in world-record times. He also won a gold and a silver medal at the 1992 Albertville Games and won world speed skating titles in 1990, 1991 and 1994.
Koss, who retired from speed skating last spring to concentrate on his medical studies, also is renowned for his humanitarian efforts. He donated his entire $30,000 bonus at the Lillehammer Games to a charity that provides relief to children in war-ravaged areas of the world.