Next month, Sochi, Russia will host athletes from more than 85 nations at the Winter Olympics. Some of those countries might surprise you. They get no snow or have no mountains.

Masha Gessen is a prominent journalist who is also a lesbian and an outspoken LGBT rights advocate in Russia. After Russia passed two anti-gay laws in June, she decided it was time for her, her partner and their children to leave. In late December, they moved to New York.

"The only thing more creepy than hearing someone suggest the likes of you should be burned alive is hearing someone suggest the likes of you should be burned alive and thinking, 'I know that guy.' "

The month of January promises to serve up lots of excitement, angst and pressure for the many Olympic hopefuls from the Northwest.

Tom Banse

Before you know it, the next Winter Olympics will be upon us. The Opening Ceremony is two short months away. The 2014 Games in Sochi, Russia will feature a new medal event - freestyle skiing in the halfpipe. A daring skier from the Northwest hopes to make his Olympic debut in the first time Olympic event.

A piece of the Northwest will be on display when Team USA marches in the Opening Ceremonies of the 2014 Winter Olympics in Russia.

Track And Field Trials Return To Eugene In 2016

Apr 11, 2013

USA Track and Field announced today that Eugene will host the 2016 U.S. Olympic track and field trials.

SALEM, Ore. – Olympic gold medal winner Ashton Eaton thanked Oregon lawmakers for supporting track athletes like him. The Oregon native shot to worldwide fame last year when he won the gold medal in the decathlon at the London summer games.

He addressed members of the Oregon Senate Thursday.

"I feel so strongly about this state and I can't express enough how much I appreciate the work that is done within these wood walls that may -- unknowingly by most of you in here -- help me do what I'm able to do every day."

KETCHUM, Idaho - A ceremony in Sochi, Russia a few days ago started the one year countdown to the 2014 Winter Games. Here in the Northwest, the Sun Valley, Idaho ski team has set a goal to get at least six of its skiers or snowboarders on Team USA in Sochi.

The Paralympic Games for physically disabled athletes follow right after the Olympics. That U.S. team will also likely have lots of Northwest ties. Sun Valley is developing a reputation for uncovering exceptional paraplegic and amputee athletes through programs geared toward injured veterans.

Photo by Tom Banse / Northwest Public Radio

Eugene-based track star Ashton Eaton already has a world record to his name and a gold medal in decathlon from this year's London Olympics. Monday, the central Oregon native got to add another honor to his crowded shelf. The sport federation USA Track & Field named Eaton as its male athlete of the year.

Photo Credit: Jes Burns

The inaugural "Nick Symmonds Springfield 800" road race drew crowds Saturday in the adopted home of the five-time US Champion.

Washington-born and raised goalkeeper Hope Solo saved the day, quite literally, according to her teammates in the Olympic women’s soccer final Thursday. Team USA held on for a 2-1 victory over Japan to win the gold medal. When the final horn sounded, U.S. goalie Solo was mobbed by her fellow players. Solo says she knew the game was on the line when she made a dramatic lunging save in the waning minutes of the game.

Oregon's Ashton Eaton Wins Gold In Men's Decathlon

Aug 9, 2012

At the London Olympics today, Oregon's own Ashton Eaton placed first in the Men's Decathlon, coming in just shy of the Olympic record. That achievement earned the 24-year-old Eaton not only a gold medal, but also the ceremonial title of "World's Greatest Athlete."

USA-Japan Match Draws Northwest Soccer Fans

Aug 9, 2012

Scores of people watched at the University of Portland Thursday as the American women’s soccer team defeated Japan for the Olympic gold medal. USA star Megan Rapinoe is a UP graduate. But another player with Northwest ties might’ve been more critical to the win.

Team USA

Fans of Seattle boxer Queen Underwood hope a disappointing outcome in London won’t keep her from trying again at the 2016 Olympics. Underwood lost her opening bout Sunday in the first Olympics to open up boxing to women.

Galen Rupp Takes Silver in the Olympic 10k

Aug 6, 2012
Photo by Jes Burns / KLCC

Good news for Northwest track athletes at the London Olympics. U of O grad Galen Rupp made history Saturday in the men's 10,000 meters, winning silver. KLCC’s Jes Burns has the story.

Idaho cyclist Kristin Armstrong is in London getting ready for Sunday’s 86-mile road race through the English countryside. This is Armstrong’s third Olympics, and she says she won’t take part in today’s opening ceremonies.

Star Pupil At Seattle Boxing Gym Aims For Gold

Jul 26, 2012
Jessica Robinson / Northwest News Network

A Northwest boxing gym will be rooting for its hometown favorite at an Olympic event never-before open to women. Boxing was the last all-male hold out in the Olympics, until this year. Seattle’s Queen Underwood hopes to bring home the gold.

Photo by Tom Banse / Northwest News Network

Athletes going to the London Olympics commonly have stories of overcoming adversity. But few can top African-born distance runner Lopez Lomong. The one time "Lost Boy" of Sudan relocated to the Portland area last year. He's running for Team USA, but hopes to leverage Olympic success into greater aid and attention for his former homeland. Correspondent Tom Banse introduces us.

Jes Burns / KLCC

Two more University of Oregon alum are headed to the London Olympics this summer, after the final day of the Track and Field Trials Sunday. Matthew Centrowitz and Andrew Wheating will face the world's best after placing in the top three of Sunday's 1,500-meters.

Jes Burns / KLCC

The only Eugene native competing at the U.S. Olympic Track and Field Trials placed third Sunday in the women's racewalk. But it wasn't enough to earn her a spot on the U.S. Olympic team.

Photo by Tom Banse / Northwest News Network

Two more runners and two javelin throwers from the Northwest claimed spots in the London Olympics on the final scheduled day of competition at the U.S. Olympic Track and Field Trials.

Runners, jumpers and throwers from the Northwest performed well in these Olympic Trials. In fact, more than 20 percent of the athletes on the U.S. Olympic track and field team have ties to our region. Correspondent Tom Banse looked for reasons behind the disproportionately high local representation.

A pole vaulter with roots in Seattle and Spokane hopes the second time will be the charm at the Olympics. Brad Walker secured a return trip to the Summer Games with a first place finish at the U.S. Track and Field Trials in Eugene Thursday night. Back in 2008, the former University of Washington Husky set a new American record, qualified for the Olympic team, but then didn’t clear a single height at the Beijing Olympics. Walker says he wants “redemption” very badly this summer.

It was a good night for local Summer Olympics hopefuls Thursday in Eugene. A very good night, in fact. A half dozen athletes with ties to the Northwest earned spots in the London Games. Correspondent Tom Banse reports from the U.S. Olympic Track and Field Team Trials.

The capacity crowd at Eugene’s historic Hayward Field saved its biggest roar for last… for the dramatic finish in the men’s 5000 meters.

Eugene has a long history as the adopted home of Olympic track and field hopefuls. But it’s very rare for a serious contender to actually be born and raised in the city. On Sunday a true local girl will be competing at Hayward, and she has a legitimate shot at making the team in perhaps the most unusual of the track events. KLCC’s Jes Burns reports.

The U.S. Olympic Team Trials for track and field resume Thursday afternoon in Eugene after a two day rest break. Thursday night, more athletes with Northwest ties step to the starting line than on any other day of the event. Correspondent Tom Banse has this preview.

At the Olympic trials Monday, several Oregon runners - including Galen Rupp of Portland - advanced to the finals in the men’s 5,000 meter race. As KLCC’s Angela Kellner reports, a former lost boy of Sudan and two Kenyan brothers also have the chance to represent the U.S. in London.

Photo by Tom Banse / Northwest News Network

A fourth or fifth place finish tends to bring excruciating disappointment at the U.S. Olympic Trials. Top three qualify for the Summer Olympics, normally. But fourth and fifth place was good enough Monday night for two Olympic hopefuls from the Northwest. Correspondent Tom Banse has the explanation from the track and field team trials in Eugene.

In the men’s 800 meter race Monday, Boise-native Nick Symmonds, now of Springfield, Oregon, clocked the fastest time by an American at Hayward Field. As KLCC’s Angela Kellner reports, it earned him a spot on the U.S. Olympic Team.

One of the surprise winners of a slot on the U.S. Olympic Track and Field team isn’t a household name, even in the town where his track career took off. Now, Ryan Bailey is headed to London to compete in the 100-meter race.

The 2012 U.S. Olympic Team qualifying action continues Monday at Hayward Field in Eugene with the possibility of another all-Oregon podium sweep. Three Eugene-based runners are in the final of the men’s 800 meters. Earlier this weekend, three Portland runners swept the men’s 10,000 meters race at the U.S. Olympic Team Trials for track and field. Still, the talk of Tracktown remains the world record breaking performance in the decathlon by Oregon native Ashton Eaton. Bryan Clay was the 2008 Olympic decathlon champion, but in these Trials he trailed far behind Eaton.