Sochi 2014 Winter Olympics: NW athlete update!

Buzz_0114_NWolyAthletes_feature

NW athletes

Compiled by Diane Rudholm

Eight athletes from the Northwest have been selected to join the U.S. Olympic team for the XXII Olympic Winter Games Feb. 7–23 in Sochi, Russia. This year’s Games feature 15 disciplines of seven winter sports recognized by the International Olympic Committee. There will be a total of 98 medal events.

At press time, not all team placements were finalized. For the most up-to-date information, go to www.TeamUSA.org/Athletes

Erik Bjornsen

Nordic Skiing
Age: 22
Hometown: Winthrop, Wash.

Highlights: Bjornsen is part of a sibling duo on this year’s U.S. team — he was added to the roster after his sister, Sadie, qualified. Erik Bjornsen won two gold medals and two silver medals at the 2013 U.S. National Championships and was a member of the Junior World Championships Team from 2009 –2011. Bjornsen placed third at the 2012 15k Classic and second in 2011. He placed third at the 2012 SuperTour Finals mini tour. And, in 2011, he raced in the NCAA All-American and NCAA Championship 20k, earning a silver medal at the latter.

Sadie Bjornsen

Nordic Skiing
Age: 25
Hometown: Winthrop, Wash.

Highlights: Bjornsen and her brother, Erik, are not the first Nordic skiers from the Methow Valley to qualify for the Olympics. They grew up next door to Laura McCabe, a two-time Olympian, and lived just up the road from Leslie Thompson Hall, a three-time Olympian. They’re also joined by Winthrop native, Brian Gregg, at this year’s games.
Bjornsen has competed in two World Championships and two World Cups, and has one World Cup silver medal under her belt.

J.R. Celski

Short Track Speedskating
Age: 23
Hometown: Federal Way, Wash.

Highlights: Celski debuted in the 2010 Olympics, taking home two bronze medals. He has won 15 World Cup medals between 2009 – 2013, and he broke the 500m world record time in 2012. He has also won seven World Championships medals. Between training and competing, Celski produced a documentary about Seattle’s underground hip-hop scene called The Otherside, which played at the 2013 Seattle International Film Festival.

Brian Gregg

Nordic Skiing
Age: 29
Hometown: Winthrop, Wash.

Highlights: Gregg competed with his wife — 2010 Olympian Caitlin Gregg (Compton) — for spots on this year’s team. Gregg has five SuperTour victories and 19 SuperTour podiums under his belt, along with eight World Cup starts. Gregg also won the 2012 Vail Mountain Games, Owl Creek Chase, the Great Race, 2009 and 2011 Seeley Hills Classic, 2009 and 2012 Pre Birkie and 2011 Sleeping Giant Loppet. He placed second in the 2012 City of Lake Loppet and third in the 2012 American Birkebeiner.

Hilary Knight

Ice Hockey
Age: 24
Current Residence: Sun Valley, Idaho

Highlights: Knight won a silver medal at the 2010 Olympics. She won two gold medals and two silver medals at the 2009 – 2012 Four Nations Cups, as well as two gold medals and one silver medal from the 2009 – 2012 World Championships. Knight was the NCAA National Championship winner with the University of Wisconsin in 2009, and she led the NCAA with 45 goals and 83 points. She was also the 2009 WCHA Player of the Year and is a three-time member of the U.S. Women’s Under-22 Select Team.

Christian Niccum

Luge
Age: 35
Current Residence: Woodinville, Wash.

Highlights: Niccum competed in men’s singles in the 2006 Olympics and men’s doubles with Dan Joye in the 2010 Olympics. The duo also won the silver medal at the 2009 World Cup and was U.S. champion in 2008 and 2010. Niccum won the bronze medal with Jayson Terdiman at the 2010 World Cup. Before that, Niccum and Matt McClain were 1995 Nations Cup champions.

Jessica Schultz

Curling
Age: 29
Hometown: Anchorage, Alaska

Highlights: Schultz competed in the 2006 Olympics and her teams have been champions for two of the three recent U.S. Olympic Team Trials. She’s competed in four World Curling Championships, winning a silver medal in 2005, and her team was named champion three times and runner-up twice in the U.S. National Championships. Schultz started curling with her family as a weekly family activity in 1997, and competed on a national and world level while she was still a teenager.

Sara Studebaker

Biathlon
Age: 29
Hometown: Boise, Idaho

Highlights: Studebaker made her first Olympic team in 2010, she has been on the U.S. World Championship team since the start of the 2010 –11 season and is competing in the 2013 –14 circuit. Favorite quote: “Whether you think you can, or you think you can’t — you’re right.” (Henry Ford)

Update
Apolo Ohno

During the 2010 Olympics, Apolo Ohno from Federal Way, Wash., became the most decorated Winter Olympian in U.S. history, but he’s taken on a new role with the Olympics this year, joining sportscaster Terry Gannon as a commentator for Short Track Speedskating.

Olympic Resources

The first competitions of the Games start Feb. 6 on NBC — even though the opening ceremonies are Feb. 7 — and run through Feb. 23. The Paralympics are two weeks later March 7–16 in Sochi.

Find full schedules, athlete videos, Olympic protocols and more at NBCOlympics.com or TeamUSA.org

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