Alaska sends record number of athletes to the Olympics

There are five Alaskans on the women’s cross-country ski team competing at the 2018 Winter Olympics in PyeongChang, South Korea. (Photo courtesy of Alaska Pacific University)

The 2018 Winter Olympics begin in PyeongChang, South Korea on Friday and there are a record number of Alaskan athletes competing for medals over the next few weeks.

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CROSS-COUNTRY SKIING

Erik Bjornsen
Sadie Bjornsen
Erik and Sadie Bjornsen, from Winthrop, WA, made their Olympic debuts at the 2014 Winter Games in Sochi. Erik finished 6th in the team sprint and Sadie finished 9th in the 4×5 km relay. Both are going into the games with medal hopes.

Rosie Brennan
Rosie is from Park City, Utah. She didn’t start skiing until she was 14, but for the last two years, Rosie has skied on the World Cup circuit in Europe. She was on the 4x5k relay team that finished 3rd in 2015 at the World Cup races in Lillehammer, Norway.

Rosie Frankowski
Rosie, born and raised in Minneapolis, MN, earned her Master’s degree in Business Administration from APU, where she has skied professionally for the last few years.

Logan Hanneman
Reese Hanneman
Logan and Reese Hanneman are from Fairbanks. After graduating from the University of Alaska Fairbanks, Logan and joined his brother in Anchorage to ski for APU. Both have won Super Tour races in the U.S.

Tyler Kornfield
Tyler was born and raised in Anchorage. He skied for the University of Alaska Fairbanks, where he won multiple national championships. Skiing professionally, Tyler has continued to climb to the top of national podiums.

Caitlin Patterson
Scott Patterson
Siblings Cailtin and Scott Patterson are graduates of Anchorage’s South High School and are former members of Alaska Winter Stars ski program. They also both skied for the University of Vermont. Caitlin then joined Vermont’s Crafstbury Green Racing Project, while Scott moved back to Alaska to ski for APU. They have both won multiple national championships and skied on the World Cup.

Kikkan Randall
Kikkan Randall made her Olympic debut at the 2002 Winter Games in Salt Lake City, Utah. She was the first American woman to both podium and win in World Cup Races. She was also the first American woman to finish in the top 10 at the Olympics. This will be Kikkan’s fifth and final Olympics.

Casey Wright (competing for Australia)
Casey is from Melbourne, Australia. She started skiing for the University of Alaska Anchorage in 2016. She was voted “most improved skier” by her teammates in 2017.

Jessica Yeaton (competing for Australia)
Jessica was born in Perth, Australia and moved to Alaska when she was 12. After graduating from Montana State University, Jessica moved back to Alaska to ski professionally for APU.

SNOWBOARDING

Rosie Mancari
Rosie started snowboarding at Alyeska when she was just three years old. The 24-year-old graduated early from South High School to snowboard full-time in Colorado. Rosie is competing in snowboard cross.

Ryan Stassel
Ryan is a graduate of Service High School. He competed at the 2014 Olympics in Sochi and, in 2015, won gold at the World Cup Championships in Austria. The 25-year-old will compete in two snowboarding events: big air and slopestyle.

FIGURE SKATING
Keegan Messing (competing for Canada)
Keegan is a figure skater from Girdwood. The 26-year-old grew up in Alaska, but his moms is from Alberta, Canada, so Keegan is competing for Canada. Keegan’s great-great grandfather was the first person ever recorded to immigrate from Japan to Canada.

HOCKEY
Mat Robinson (competing for Canada)
Mat is from Calgary, Alberta. He was a defenseman for four years at the University of Alaska Anchorage.

Luka Vidmar (competing for Slovenia)
Also a former Seawolf, Luka is from Ljubljana, Slovenia. He is a defenseman and played for for four years for the University of Alaska Anchorage.

ALPINE SKIING

Alex Hall
Alex was born in Fairbanks, but when he was one he moved with his family to Zurich, Switzerland. Alex relocated to Park City, UT when he was 16. He will compete in slopestyle skiing.

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Emily Russell is the voice of Alaska morning news as Alaska Public Media’s Morning News Host and Producer. Originally from the Adirondacks in upstate New York, Emily moved to Alaska in 2012. She skied her way through three winters in Fairbanks, earning her Master’s degree in Northern Studies from UAF. Emily’s career in radio started in Nome in 2015, reporting for KNOM on everything from subsistence whale harvests to housing shortages in Native villages. She then worked for KCAW in Sitka, finally seeing what all the fuss with Southeast, Alaska was all about. Back on the road system, Emily is looking forward to driving her Subaru around the region to hike, hunt, fish and pick as many berries as possible. When she’s not talking into the mic in the morning, Emily can be found reporting from the peaks above Anchorage to the rivers around Southcentral.