Northwest Talent Sliding into Sochi

Jan 22, 2014

It's looking more and more like Northwest athletes will be unusually well represented at the Winter Olympics in Russia next month. The U.S. Olympic Nordic team was named Wednesday. Half of the 14 selected cross country skiers have Northwest ties. 

2014 U.S. Nordic Olympic team member Erik Bjornsen of Mazama, Wash. demonstrated a finishing lunge for a Methow Valley youngster in December.
Credit Tom Banse

A brother-sister cross country ski duo from Washington's Methow Valley will get their wish to go to the Olympics together. Sadie and Erik Bjornsen were both named to the U.S. Nordic team along with two others from their area: Mazama-born and raised Brian Gregg and Olympic veteran Torin Koos of Leavenworth. Erik Bjornsen foresees an end to an Olympic medal drought for U.S. cross country skiers that stretches back to 1976.

"I think there's a really good chance we'll come out with a medal this year. The women are skiing really strong right now. So... I'd put money on it," Bjornsen says. 

The north-central Washington skiers will be joined on the 2014 Olympic team by Seattle-born and raised cross country skier Holly Brooks (now living in Anchorage) and two alumni of the Sun Valley Olympic development team, Simi Hamilton and Noah Hoffman (who both now call Aspen, Colorado home).

U.S. Olympic Team cross country ski coach Chris Grover also has Northwest ties. According to the Sun Valley Ski Education Foundation, Grover coached there in the mid-to-late 1990's before leaving for Mount Bachelor in central Oregon. Grover returned to Sun Valley for the 2005-06 season to be SVSEF's first Olympic development team coach.

The 2014 U.S. Olympic Team will feature at least seven sibling pairs across all disciplines, counting Erik and Sadie Bjornsen. Others include the aptly named snowboarders Arielle and Taylor Gold of Colorado and ice dancing duo Maia and Alex Shibutani of Michigan.

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