Feb. 20: Triumph and tragedy in GenX history
Feb. 20 — OTD in GenX history, we cheered, watched in wonder, and mourned.
Tara Lipinski (1982) became the youngest female to win gold in women’s figure skating on this date at the 1998 Winter Olympics in Nagano, Japan. At 5-foot-2, she came up biggest when it mattered most, winning every competition she entered as a professional. She retired from skating in 2002 and has been a commentator, along with fellow skater Johnny Weir.
The Soviet Union launched the Mir space station in 1986, and it became the first continuously inhabited space station in orbit for 3,644 days.
Normally we stick to events from the ’90s, ’80s, and even some ’70s, but sometimes tragedy knows no bounds. On this date in 2003, Great White was playing at The Station nightclub in West Warwick, R.I., when pyrotechnics ignited soundproofing material around the stage. The club was soon engulfed, killing 100 people, including guitarist Ty Longley.
1983 Daytona 500 — Cale Yarborough became the first NASCAR driver to clear 200 MPH on a qualifying lap, but he crashed and had to switch cars. No matter, as he slingshotted past leader Buddy Baker on the final backstretch and held off a three-way photo finish for second for his third victory in the 500. It was the first trip to Victory Lane for an in-car camera for the race.
1994 Daytona 500 — A pall fell over the 36th running of the race when Neil Bonnett and Rodney Orr crashed and died during Speedweek leading up. The end did bring celebration, as Sterling Marlin ended his streak of 279 starts without a win, including eight second-place finishes, to win “The Great American Race.”