Daniel Erwin "Dan" Jansen is a retired American speed skater. A multiple world champion in sprint and perennial favorite at the Winter Olympics, he won a gold medal in his final race (1,000 meters) in the 1994 Winter Olympics at the end of his career.
n 1988, Jansen became the World Sprint Champion, then he was off to the 1988 Winter Olympics where he was a favorite for the 500- and 1,000-meter races. In the early hours of February 14, the day of the 500-meter event, Jansen was informed that his 27-year-old sister, Mrs. Jane Marie Beres, was dying of leukemia. Jansen spoke to her on the phone but was unable to receive a response. A few hours later, Jansen was notified of his sister's death.
Jansen went on to compete in the 500-meter race that afternoon but fell in the first turn. Four days later in the 1,000-meter event, he began with record-breaking speed but fell again, just past the 800-meter mark. He left the 1988 Olympics with no medals but became the recipient of the U.S. Olympic Spirit Award for his valiant efforts. In the 1992 Winter Olympics in Albertville, he finished fourth in the 500 meters and 26th in the 1,000 meters, and left the games with no medals. In 1993, Jansen set a world record in the 500-meter event and was cast as a favorite to win the gold medal in the event at the 1994 Winter Olympics in Lillehammer.
Between the 1992 and 1994 Olympics, Jansen was the only skater to break 36 seconds in the 500 meters, doing so four times. In 1994, Jansen won his second World Sprint Championship title, and he arrived at the 1994 Winter Olympics for one final attempt at an Olympic medal.
In the 500-meter event, he finished eighth. In preparation for the 1,000-meter event, he was coached by Peter Mueller, who won the same event in the 1976 Winter Olympics. Jansen defied expectations and finished first, winning his first and only Olympic medal of his career, while setting a new world record in the process. He received the 1994 James E. Sullivan Award and was chosen by his fellow Olympians to bear the U.S. flag at the closing ceremony of the 1994 Winter Olympics. He was elected to the Wisconsin Athletic Hall of Fame in 1995.