More Olympians with Alaska connections

Anchorage Daily NewsFebruary 6, 2014 

Ashley Wagner, of the United States, skates at the figure stating practice rink ahead of the 2014 Winter Olympics, Wednesday, Feb. 5, 2014, in Sochi, Russia.

IVAN SEKRETAREV — Associated Press

Because this is the Olympics, everyplace wants Olympians to call their own.

Remember back when Tommy Moe won Olympic gold and silver in 1994, and both Girdwood and Palmer fought for the right to be called his hometown? And some town in Montana even tried to claim him as a local?

With that in mind, meet Team Alaska Asterisk.

It's a squad of five athletes with strong ties to Alaska:

DAVE DUNCAN, slopestyle skiing (Canada)

31 years old

Hometown: London, Ontario

Olympic history

2010 Vancouver -- Made Canada's skicross team and was considered a medal contender, but he broke his collarbone while training two days before his Olympic event.

How Alaskan is he?

Well, he came to UAA to ski and to earn an aviation degree. At UAA, he was a two-time MVP for the ski team and a two-time Chancellor's List scholar. Sparky Anderson, one of Duncan's coaches at UAA, marveled at Duncan's abilities, especially given Duncan's size -- 6-foot-1, 205 pounds.

"I can't say I've seen too many bigger or stronger guys on a pair of skis. Guys like Dave are usually wearing shoulder pads and a helmet tackling other guys with shoulder pads and helmets," Anderson said.

ANNA BERECZ, alpine skiing (Hungary)

25 years old

Hometown: Budapest, Hungary

Olympic history

2010 Vancouver -- 27th combined, 27th super-G, 35th downhill, 42nd giant slalom, 45th slalom.

How Alaskan is she?

Berecz is a junior at UAA who is missing a chunk of her third ski season with the Seawolves to ski in Sochi for Hungary. In March 2011, the Seawolves competed at a Super Tour race series in Washington that Berecz was also at, skiing for Hungary. UAA's coaches talked to her then, and the next season she was suiting up in green and gold.

SARA STUDEBAKER, biathlon

29 years old

Hometown: Boise, Idaho

Olympic history

2010 Vancouver -- 17th relay, 34th 15-K, 45th 7.5-K, 46th 10-K

How Alaskan is she?

Studebaker trains in Anchorage and her coaches include longtime boyfriend Zach Hall of Nikiski, a former member of the U.S. Biathlon Team. She's among the volunteer coaches for the NANANordic program, which takes nordic skiing to children in rural Alaska.

"They have snow so much of the year that skiing is a very easy sport to take up. Some are extremely talented and I hope they will be able to take skiing as far as they want. Right now, it would be great if some of them could end up skiing in university or even competing in national events. You never know where skiing can take you," Studebaker told Biathlonum, a blog about biathlon.

 

ASHLEY WAGNER, figure skating

22 years old

Hometown: Alexandria, Virginia

Olympic rookie

How Alaskan is she?

Wagner, a two-time national champion, started her figure skating career at age 5 while her family lived in Eagle River. Part of a military family, she moved nine times while growing up. She skated for the Anchorage Figure Skating Club for several years, including in 2005 when she won the junior ladies title at the Pacific Coast Sectional Championship. After winning that title, she talked about being part of the Alaska contingent.

"We've been up at the top lately, and it's been giving Alaskans up there a lot of confidence. I am very excited. This is going to be a fun year," Wagner said.

 

ANDREW MUSGRAVE, cross-country skiing (Great Britain)

23 years old

Hometown: Huntly, Aberdeenshire (Scotland)

Olympic history

2010 Vancouver -- 51st 30-K pursuit, 58th classic sprint

How Alaskan is he?

Musgrave is the son of a oil-business executive and as a kid spent six years in Anchorage, "where I learned to ski properly," he told a Scottish magazine. His older brother, Ben, was a member of the Service High ski team back in the early 2000s and Andrew was a regular at local races.

(Editor's note: This is a growing list. Brian Gregg, former UAA All-America skier, and Lanny Barnes, biathlete who trained in Anchorage last summer, will be added soon).

 

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