Only two sports had lgbt athletes competing at the 1998 Winter Olympic in
– speed skating and ice hockey. Nagano, Japan
Marieke Wijsman first skated competitively in 1988 at the age of 13. In 1996 she became Dutch champion in the 1000 metres. Marieke was the first female skater to compete internationally in clap skates. These are skates that aren’t fixed rigidly along the sole of the boot but hinged at one end so that the blade has longer contact with the ice. Soon the rest of the world followed suit and because of the increased efficiency on the ice dozens of world records were smashed by clap-skate wearers in
American speed skater Chris Witty made her second Olympic appearance in
. She improved on her 23rd position in 1000m at the 1994 games by winning silver. She also won a bronze in the 1500m. (As I said in a previous post I have only seen her name on one internet list of lgbt athletes). Nagano
The Nagano Olympics saw the introduction of women’s ice hockey, and it is in this sport that the other 3 lgbt athletes competed.
Nancy Drolet had been a member of the Canadian women’s ice hockey team since 1992. That year the team won the World Championships and
was named Athlete of the Year by the Canadian Sports Council. The team won the world championships twice more before the Nagano Olympics and three more times afterwards. At Nagano Nancy and the Canadian team won the silver medal. Nancy
In the round robin stage of the tournament the Canadians beat the Swedish team. Playing for
was Erika Holst and Ylva Lindberg. Even though they didn’t win a medal they finished in 5th position with Olympic diplomas. Sweden
For only the second time since 1972 there were no identified lgbt figure skaters competing in the winter Olympics. That doesn’t mean they had no influence on the competition.
Brian Wright (1959-2003) was one of the top choreographers in figure skating who influenced many others. It was watching the 1968 Winter Olympics held in
that inspired Brian to take up skating. Even though he came 2nd in the Grenoble national novice championships and was tipped for a place on a future Olympic team Brian chose choreography instead of competition. He did, however, create medal-winning routines for top skaters, most famously Michael Weiss. Brian choreographed Michael’s free routine in 1995, making perfect use of Michael’s muscular physique and jumping prowess. US