How They Fared: Speedskater From Northwest Brings Home Silver
By Tom Banse
Short track speedskater J.R. Celski of Federal Way, Wash., led Team USA to a silver medal in the men's 5000-meter relay Friday, ending a medal drought in the discipline for the Americans. Russia took the gold. The relay silver is the only medal won by the U.S. in either long track or short track speedskating at the Sochi Games.
Earlier Friday, Celski finished fourth in a 500-meter individual semifinal heat. He did not qualify for the 'A' final in which the gold medal went to Korean-born Victor An, who now skates for Russia. It was An again who edged Celski in the final laps of the 5000-meter relay.
In a neighboring arena in the Olympic complex, Canada defeated the U.S. in men's hockey 1-0. That sends the American men, including Everett, Washington-raised forward T.J. Oshie, to the bronze medal game tomorrow against Finland. Oshie, now an NHL star with St. Louis, originally got his start playing in the Seattle Junior Hockey Association.
Photo: The Olympic Flame in the center of the Olympic Village in Sochi, Russia. Credit: Sarah Brunson/USSA
Up in the mountains above Sochi, alpine ski racer Jasmine Campbell of Sun Valley, Idaho finished 43rd in the women's slalom. The Whitman College student represents the U.S. Virgin Islands. The American territory sends its own team to the Olympics. Campbell was born in St. John, Virgin Islands and moved with her family to Idaho when she was nine-year-old.
Photo: Credit Sarah Brunson / U.S. Snowboarding. USA snowboarder Kaitlyn Farrington (center) of Bellevue, Idaho won gold in the women's halfpipe on Wednesday.
Here is how Northwest athletes have fared to date:
Nick Cunningham - Bobsledding
On the sliding track, former Boise State University standout Nick Cunningham piloted the USA-2 bobsled in the two-man competition this week. Cunningham's sled finished in twelfth place out of twenty teams. Cunningham will race again in the four-man event Saturday.
Angeli VanLaanen - Freestyle skiing
VanLaanen finished 11th in the debut of ski halfpipe at the Olympics on Thurday. In some respects, it was victory enough for the 28-year-old Bellingham, Wash., native just to be in Sochi. VanLaanen endured a nearly three year hiatus from competition and training for treatment of Lyme disease during her mid-twenties.
Amy Sheehan - Freestyle skiing
Sheehan, a recent transplant to Wenatchee, Wash., finished in 10th in the debut of ski halfpipe at the Olympics. That placed her one spot ahead of her home state compatriot VanLaanen, but they are not teammates. Sheehan competed for her native Australia.
Vic Wild - Snowboarding
This American-born, former Columbia River Gorge resident won gold for Russia in the parallel giant slalom event Wednesday. Wild took Russian citizenship after marrying Russia's top alpine snowboarder in 2011. The 27-year-old learned his sport at the Mount Hood Meadows ski area.
Jasmine Campbell - Alpine skiing
The Sun Valley ski team product finished 43rd out of 60 starters in Friday’s slalom event. Campbell's combined time for two runs was more than 25 seconds behind American gold medalist Mikaela Shiffrin. On Tuesday, Campbell - a Whitman College student - finished in 56th place out of 75 starters in the giant slalom.
Sadie Bjornsen - Cross country skiing
Bjornsen had the best U.S. finish in the women's 10 kilometer classic race held on Thursday. She placed 18th. Bjornsen finished in 31st place in her first Olympic race, the women's skiathlon on Feb. 8. Sadie is the older half of a sibling duo from Washington's Methow Valley.
Erik Bjornsen - Cross country skiing
Bjornsen has kept busy at the Laura Cross-Country Ski Center. On Wednesday, he anchored the two-man, classic-style relay to a strong sixth place finish. Bjornsen also skied a segment in the men's 4 x 10km relay on Feb. 16, in which Team USA finished in 11th place. On Feb. 14, the younger half of the Mazama, Wash., sibling duo finished in 38th place in the slushy 15 kilometer race. On Feb. 11, Bjornsen finished 39th in the men’s individual sprints. At the beginning of last week, he placed 42nd in the skiathlon (15km classic + 15km freestyle on Feb. 9).
Brian Gregg - Cross country skiing
Gregg has finished in 47th place twice, first in the in the skiathlon on Feb. 9 and then again in the 15 kilometer race on Friday. The distance racing specialist, who was born and raised in Winthrop, Wash., will have another chance in the 50km freestyle race on the final day of the Sochi Games.
Roberto Carcelen - Cross country skiing
Carcelen sustained several bruised or broken ribs in a ski crash during training in Austria in mid-January. The lingering effects probably contributed to the Peruvian-American's last place finish in his only 2014 Olympic race, the men's 15 kilometer event on Friday. The Swiss winner of the race stuck around at the finish line for more than half an hour in order to congratulate Carcelen on his gutsy performance - a fitting display of Olympic spirit on both sides. Carcelen raced for Peru, whose flag the Seattle-based e-commerce consultant carried in the Opening Ceremony.
Holly Brooks - Cross country skiing
Brooks skied to a 35th place finish in the women's 10 km classic event on Thursday. She finished in 47th place in the women's skiathlon on Feb. 8. This 31-year-old Seattle native (now living in Anchorage) learned to ski at Snoqualmie Pass.
Christian Niccum - Doubles luge
Niccum, of Woodinville, Wash., finished in eleventh place in the doubles competition Wednesday. The three-time Olympic slider was paired with Jayson Terdiman. On Thursday, that combo had the seventh fastest time in the doubles portion of the team relay event, in which Team USA finished sixth overall. The relay ride was probably the 36-year-old Niccum's final Olympic appearance.
Kaitlyn Farrington - Snowboarding
Farrington beat three prior Olympic champions to win the gold medal in women's snowboard halfpipe on Feb. 12. The 24-year-old self-described "cowgirl" from Bellevue, Idaho is a product of the Sun Valley ski and snowboard program. Farrington will be honored with a "community wide celebration" in the Wood River Valley on March 1st.
Jackie Wiles - Alpine skiing
The 21-year-old U.S. Ski Team rookie from Aurora, Ore., finished in 26th place in the women's downhill. "There were some nerves today, but I feel like I channeled that into some good energy," Wiles said in a team statement on Feb. 12. Wiles skied for the White Pass, Wash., racing team in her teens.
Hilary Knight - Ice hockey
Forward Hilary Knight of Sun Valley, Idaho and her teammates on the U.S. women's hockey team are coming home with silver medals. Team USA fell to Canada 3-2 in an intense gold medal game that was decided in sudden death overtime. Last week in a preliminary game, Canada also edged the USA, 3-2. Knight scored the first goal of that game. Earlier, Knight chalked up a goal and an assist in an opening 3-1 victory over Finland and she contributed another goal and an assist in a subsequent 9-0 shutout of Switzerland.
Kent Callister - Snowboarding
Callister finished in ninth in the men's halfpipe final on Feb. 11. That was the same event in which USA superstar Shaun White placed an inglorious fourth. Callister competed for Australia in Sochi and was the only Aussie in the men's final. The teen from Bend, Ore., has dual American and Australian citizenship.
Sara Studebaker – Biathlon
The Boise native competed in four biathlon events, which combine cross country skiing and target shooting. On Feb. 9, Studebaker placed 44th in the 7.5km sprint. On Feb. 11, she finished further back - 51st in the women’s 10km pursuit. On Feb. 14, she missed four targets. The resulting time penalties knocked her back to 55th place in the 15 kilometer event. On Friday, Studebaker skied the third leg of the women's 4x6km relay, in which Team USA finished seventh.
Simi Hamilton – Cross country skiing
Hamilton teamed with Methow Valley, Washington's Erik Bjornsen in the two-man, classic sprint relay on Wednesday. The pair finished in sixth place. The Sun Valley Olympic development team alumnus started his campaign in Sochi with a 27th place finish in the men’s individual sprint competition Tuesday. These are Hamilton’s second Olympics.
Torin Koos – Cross country skiing
The four-time Olympian from Leavenworth, Wash., also kicked off his racing in Sochi with the men’s individual sprint. Koos finished in 37th place.
Patrick Deneen - Freestyle skiing
The pride of Cle Elum, Wash., was edged out by the dominant Canadians in freestyle moguls. Deneen finished 6th in the moguls finals on Monday. Still, the result was better than the crash he suffered in the finals of the 2010 Vancouver Games.
J.R. Celski - Short track speedskating
The Federal Way, Wash., native has added a silver medal to the two bronzes he won at the Vancouver Games in 2010. Celski anchored the U.S. short track speedskating team in the 5000-meter relay. Celski just missed a medal in his first final in Sochi. He finished fourth in the men's 1,500-meters. The 23-year-old did not advance to the medal round of the 1000 and 500-meter individual events.
Laurenne Ross - Alpine skiing
In the women's Super-G event Saturday, Ross did not finish the soft, rutted course. In a U.S. team statement, she said she harbors no regrets. "I came out there and gave it everything I had and stuff happens when you’re going for it." Earlier last week, Ross finished eleventh in a women's downhill that was most notable for producing an historic tie for first place. On Feb. 10, the 25-year-old U.S. Ski Team veteran from Bend, Ore., crashed and did not finish the super combined (a morning downhill followed by an afternoon slalom).
Jessika Jenson - Snowboarding
The Rigby, Idaho, snowboarder finished 14th in the debut of women's slopestyle at the Olympic Games.
The Sochi Games Opening Ceremony took place on February 7. Competition continues through Sunday, February 23.