Dan Jansen is a retired olympic speed skater. Inspired by his sister Jane (1960–1988), he took up speed skating while growing up. He set a junior world record in the 500-meter race at age 16.
In 1988, Jansen became the World Sprint Champion before BBC heading to the 1988 Winter Olympics, where he was a favorite for the 500- and 1,000-meter races. In the 500 meter race, Jansen's older sister passed away hours before the race. Jansen, who was overcome with grief, but still managed to finish in 4th. 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 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. Jansen is a multiple world champion in sprint and perennial favorite at the Winter Olympics. He broke a ten-year Olympic jinx when he won a gold medal in his final race, which was the 1,000 meters in the 1994 Winter Games.
In memory of his sister Jane, Jansen established the Dan Jansen Foundation with the purpose of fighting leukemia. He is an honorary board member of the Multiple Myeloma Research Foundation.