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Road to Sochi

By CATHY BREITENBUCHER

February 2014

Petit National Ice Center

It’s time to come in from the cold Wisconsin air and settle in for the 2014 Winter Olympics, Feb. 6-23 in Sochi, Russia. With memorable champions including Eric Heiden, Bonnie Blair, Dan Jansen and members of the "Miracle on Ice" 1980 hockey team, our state’s winter sports legacy runs deep. But let’s not rest on our laurels — we’ve got five good reasons to cheer for Team USA 2014.

Brianna Decker

Alyson Dudek, 23
Hales Corners
Short-track Speedskating

Role Model: Long-track skating gold medalist Casey FitzRandolph of Verona, whom Dudek first met when she was a beginning skater. "I was star-struck and inspired. He signed my picture with ‘Believe and you can achieve.’"

Favorite Olympic Moments: Walking into the Vancouver opening ceremony as a wide-eyed 19-year-old, cheering on her teammates, winning a relay bronze medal of her own, and celebrating at the closing ceremony.

Insider’s Take: "Short-track is fast, exciting, energetic, unpredictable and dangerous," says Dudek, and she’s not kidding about the unpredictable part. The U.S. women’s relay, a medal favorite, missed out on the Olympics due to a disqualification in a World Cup race. Dudek will be giving it her all in the individual races.

Bet You Didn’t Know: "I love to cook — anything that is fresh, local, unique and nutrient-rich, I am all over it! I stay active with cycling, yoga, weights and running, and want to get into kickboxing."

Alyson Dudek

Pettit Champs

If the Pettit National Ice Center were a country, it would have more Olympic speedskating medals to its credit than most of the nations in the Winter Games. Everyone who’s anyone in the sport has practiced or raced on its 400 meters since its opening on a frigid New Year’s Eve in 1992. Chicago-born Shani Davis is the latest (and arguably the greatest) to make the Pettit his training home, with four Olympic medals so far. Watch for him in the sprint races and for training pals Jonathan Kuck, Brian Hansen, Trevor Marsicano and Nancy Swider-Peltz Jr., in the distance events.

Brianna Decker, 22
Dousman
Hockey

Role Model: Sidney Crosby of the Pittsburgh Penguins, who scored the gold medal-winning goal for Team Canada in 2010. "His talent and hard work are consistent in every game. He’s overcome many injuries, and his perseverance is one of the main qualities I admire most." Though they’ve never met, Decker and Crosby both attended Shattuck-St. Mary’s, a boarding school in Minnesota with a strong hockey tradition; Crosby’s younger sister, Taylor, an aspiring Olympian is a senior there.

Mitchell Whitmore

Favorite Olympic Memory: Watching the U.S. women win gold in soccer at the 2012 London Games, after having lost in the World Cup final the year before. "The reaction and looks on their faces after winning a gold medal is something I hope to experience."

Insider’s Take: "You never know what play will be the difference-maker in the game. It may be the simplest play that gives one team the victory."

Family Ties: Decker is quick to thank her parents, John and Marilyn, for their support. "My three brothers Bryan, Ben and Brody, have made me so competitive, and I appreciate them more than any of them realize."

Curling Ties

Curling has been a hit with spectators and the TV audience since it joined the Olympics in 2002. The men’s and women’s teams have plenty of connections to our state; women’s alternate Allison Pottinger earned her master’s at UW-Milwaukee and the Brown family of Madison is represented on the men’s, women’s and Paralympic teams. Find out why curling rocks at the Milwaukee Curling Club’s new $3.8 million home at the Ozaukee County Fairgrounds.

 


This story ran in the February 2014  issue of: