Sochi Report, Alaska edition: Barnes twins reunite, hockey's small world

bbragg@adn.comFebruary 14, 2014 

Erik Bjornsen of Anchorage follows Finland’s Ville Noisianen in the 15-K classic Friday.

NATHANIEL HERZ — Anchorage Daily News / FasterSkier.com

SISTERLY LOVE

Lanny and Tracy Barnes, who trained and coached in Anchorage last summer, shared a sweet moment Friday at the Winter Olympics biathlon competition.

Lanny was in the race, and Tracy was in the stands. Because Tracy deemed it so.

At the U.S. Olympic trials last month, Tracy qualified for the Sochi team. Lanny, who was so sick she couldn't complete all of the races, did not. Tracy, who said her twin was having the better season until flattened by illness, gave her Olympic berth to Lanny.

On Friday, the twins saw each other for the first time since the Olympic qualifiers.

"Having Tracy there meant more to me than anything in my biathlon career this far," Lanny said in a press release from the U.S. Biathlon Association. "I went out there to give everything I had for her and ended up dying a slow, painful death, but you've got to for it and I was going for it for her. It made me happy to see her out there."

Barnes, 31, of Durango, Colo., placed 64th in the 15-kilometer event with two penalties.

The rest of the American team consisted of biathletes who last spring coached kids in rural Alaska as volunteer coaches for the NANANordic program. Hannah Dreissigacker of Vermont placed 23rd with two penalties, Susan Dunklee of Vermont was 34th with five penalties, and Sara Studebaker of Idaho, who makes Anchorage one of her training bases, was 55th with four penalties.

ACES HAVE SOCHI LINK

Around the rink, they like to say hockey is a small world, so naturally there are abundant Alaska hockey connections at the Sochi Olympics.

Former Alaska Aces defenseman Florian Iberer, for instance, plays for Austria. Iberer, 31, played the 2006-07 season for the Aces. He put up 2-13--15 totals and a plus-25 rating in 49 games. (Alas, Iberer, who currently plays professionally in Austria, is wearing sweater No. 48 in Sochi -- so close to ideal for someone linked to the 49th state).

Iberer's brother, Matthias, a 28-year-old forward, likewise possess an Alaska connection. Matthias, who is sporting No. 25 in Sochi, played the 2005-06 season for the Fairbanks Ice Dogs junior team, delivering 16-13--29 totals in 55 games.

Meanwhile, Bowling Green, in town to play two games against UAA, would normally have defenseman Ralfs Freibergs in the lineup. But he's representing Latvia in Sochi, wearing No. 29.

And let's not forget about Stanley Cup winner and future Hall of Famer Teemu Selanne -- aka The Finnish Flash and a man of pure class.

The NHL winger, who made No. 8 cool before Alexander Ovechkin pulled it on, is playing for Finland in Sochi. His Alaska connection dates back to the 1989 World Junior Championship held in Anchorage, which was then trying to win the right to host the Olympics. Selanne, then only 18, earned 5-5--10 totals in seven games.

Long-time puckheads may remember that the Soviet Union -- yes, it was eons ago -- seized World Junior gold at Sullivan Arena, Sweden took the silver and Czechoslovakia earned bronze. The Soviets' top line featured Sergei Federov centering wingers Pavel Bure (aka The Russian Rocket), who sported fluorescent green skate laces, and Alexander Mogilny. Those three guys went on to score a combined 1,393 goals in the NHL.

The leading scorer in that tournament? That would be center Jeremy Roenick of Team USA, who posted 8-8--16 totals in seven games. He's got a Sochi connection too -- he's working there as a broadcaster for NBC.

WHO'S ON DECK?

Saturday

Cross country -- Women's 4x5-kilometer relay, 1 a.m. (Kikkan Randall, Sadie Bjornsen)

Curling -- U.S. women vs Sweden, 6 a.m. (Jessica Schultz)

Sunday

Curling -- U.S. women vs. Canada, 1 a.m. (Jessica Schultz)

Curling -- U.S. women vs. Korea, 8 p.m. (Jessica Schultz)

Cross country -- Men's relay 4x10-K relay, 1 a.m. (TBD)

RUSSIAN 101

The Sochi Games are tobacco-free -- the 12th Olympics to make that claim. The sale and consumption of cigarettes is banned at all venues, restaurants and bars, although there are designated smoking areas. And according to reports, the ban isn't being vigorously enforced.

Written and compiled by Daily News sports editor Beth Bragg, with contributions from Doyle Woody's Hockey blog, Daily News wire services and Nat Herz, who is in Sochi for fasterskier.com and the Daily News.

 

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