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SHEA Jim
SHEA Jim

Jim SHEA

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Jim Shea was a third-generation Olympian. His grandfather, Jack, a native of Lake Placid, New York, read the Athletes' Oath at the 1932 Lake Placid Games and then won two gold medals in speed skating (500m and 1,500m). Jim's father, James, participated in cross country skiing and in nordic combined at the 1964 Olympic Games in Innsbruck.

A third generation

Olympian Jim himself began as a bobsledder and then switched to skeleton because it was less expensive and more exciting. After winning the world championship in 1999, Shea qualified for the United States Olympic team in 2002. This made his family proud, but, tragically, 91-year-old Jack was killed by a drunken driver only 17 days before the Opening Ceremony.

In Salt Lake City, Jim competed with a photograph of his grandfather inside his helmet. Shea recorded the fastest time of the first run and then held on in the second run to defeat Martin Rettl for the gold medal by five hundredths of a second.

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Gallery

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Jim Shea Jr. Shouldering A Family's Olympic Legacy | Impossible Moments

A third generation Olympian, Jim Shea Jr. went to great lengths to win a skeleton gold medal that had eluded America for 74 years.
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SKELETON OLYMPIA SALT LAKE 2002 Maenner

PARK CITY, UNITED STATES - FEBRUARY 20: OLYMPISCHE WINTERSPIELE SALT LAKE CITY 2002, Park City; MAENNER; Jim SHEA/USA - GOLD - (Photo by Alexander Hassenstein/Bongarts/Getty Images)
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OLY Opening Ceremony X

20 Feb 2002: Jim Shea of the USA receives his gold medal in the men's skeleton at the medal awards ceremony at the Olympic Medals Plaza during the Salt Lake City Winter Olympic Games in Salt Lake City, Utah. DIGITAL IMAGE. Mandatory Credit: Clive Mason/Getty Images
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OLY Medal Ceremony X Shea

20 Feb 2002: Jim Shea of the USA kisses his gold medal in the men's skeleton at the medal awards ceremony at the Olympic Medals Plaza during the Salt Lake City Winter Olympic Games in Salt Lake City, Utah. DIGITAL IMAGE. Mandatory Credit: Clive Mason/Getty Images
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OLY M Skeleton X

18 Feb 2002: Jim Shea of the USA practices in the men's skeleton during the Salt Lake City Winter Olympic Games at the Utah Olympic Park in Park City, Utah. DIGITAL IMAGE. Mandatory Credit: Mike Hewitt/Getty Images
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OLY M Skeleton Practice

SALT LAKE CITY, UT - FEBRUARY 17: Jim Shea #24 of the USA practices the men's skeleton during the Salt Lake City Winter Olympic Games on February 17, 2002 at the Utah Olympic Park in Park City, Utah. (Photo by Robert Laberge/Getty Images)

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