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When Jansen returned from lunch, he found a slip of paper. "I've got a message," he told Henriksen. "But I don't think I want to know what it is."
Jane had been pronounced dead at 8:50 a.m., Calgary time, less than three hours after Dan had spoken to her.
Henriksen called a U.S. speed skating team meeting for about 2:30, and there Dan's teammates said that they would dedicate the Games to Jane. "It seemed to buoy his spirits a little bit," said Mike Crowe, the U.S. coach.
The pairings for the night's races should have, too. The U.S. had lucked out. Jansen would race second, and the Americans' second-best bet, Nick Thometz, the world-record holder in the 500, would go off third, when the ice at the glittering Olympic Oval would still be as smooth and clear as a window-pane. "Clear?" Henriksen had said earlier. "You could cut out a cube of this stuff and put it in a cocktail."
If Jansen had won the gold, a lot of people might have done just that. And there was every reason to expect that he would. After all, he'd won the world sprint championships going away, out-skating one of his chief rivals, East Germany's Jens-Uwe Mey, four times straight, twice in both the 500 and the 1,000. "I've never felt better in my life," he said after his workout Saturday but before his father had gotten the call to come home. "I thought I'd be nervous here, but I was more nervous last year."
All that calm was gone by late Sunday afternoon. As the start of the race neared, Jansen's face was pale, and during his practice laps he didn't have his usual drive. Said Thometz, "He seemed different."
Different? How was he supposed to race on a day like this one? These were the Olympic Games, and playing games must have felt like the last thing he wanted to do. Yet he came out and skated. "I talked to the members of my family, and they said to just go out there and do the best I could," Jansen would say later. "I tried to do that, and I did it pretty well. But in the warmups, my skates felt different. I wasn't gripping the ice, and I didn't feel real solid."
Harry Jansen later told the Milwaukee Journal, "I think he was thinking about Jane. I knew he'd either fall, or he'd skate the race of his life."
It took about 13 seconds to find out which. At 5:10 p.m., Jansen took his place on the starting line. He had won the best position—inside lane to start, outside to finish. Like the other racers, he preferred to finish on the outside because the track was so fast that it was easy to lose control and veer off around the curves, especially near the end of a race when the inside lane is tighter and riskier. Japan's Yasushi Kuroiwa was next to him.
The gun went up. The starter slowly called, "RED...ee..." But before the shot went off, Jansen jumped. "And Dan never jumps," Harry said afterward. Added Dan, "I was sort of confused after that."