Sochi Report, Alaska edition: Bjornsen loves the Olympics, Goldenview Middle School loves to read, and we learn more about the APU Vikings.

bbragg@adn.comFebruary 19, 2014 

FOR BJORNSEN, FUN NEVER ENDS

Teammates can't believe what a great Olympics it's been for Anchorage skier Erik Bjornsen.

They're impressed with his skiing too.

Bjornsen, 22, is winning over teammates with an attitude that is always positive and an enthusiasm that is off the charts.

Colorado's Simi Hamilton addressed Bjornsen's steadfast sunniness in a post-race interview with fasterskier.com Wednesday after he and Bjornsen finished sixth in the men's team sprint.

"He was that psyched just to wake up this morning," Hamilton said. "That's what it's been like rooming with him for the last two weeks. 'What, there's free potatoes at the cafeteria? This is so awesome! Free Coke?!'

"Nobody's having as much fun as he is. It has been awesome just having him with us this year. He has really proved himself to be here. He skied awesome. He's going to be joining us for the last couple of World Cups this year, so we're psyched. He's a great addition to this team and just brings a really positive attitude to it."

Bjornsen spent the first part of the season racing in the United States and didn't join the World Cup team until December. He racked up the first World Cup points of his career right before the Olympics, and is the only American man to race in all five events so far in Krasnaya Polyana, Russia.

"It's been a fun Olympics," he said.

WE ASK, YOU ANSWER

Sochi Report heard from a couple of people after we asked if anyone remembers when Alaska Pacific University used to be called the Vikings; the subject came up in a Los Angeles Times story about APU's nordic program.

APU is the training ground for Bjornsen, Kikkan Randall and several other elite American skiers, but it's not an intercollegiate athletic department, so it has no mascot or nickname.

Sochi Report knew that back in the 1980s, APU fielded an NAIA program with basketball, volleyball and wrestling teams called the Pioneers. It didn't know until that the school was ever known as the Vikings until the LA Times story mentioned it.

According to Anchorage's Jim Renkert, the APU Vikings competed in hockey and skiing back in the 1960s. Anchorage's Tim Kelley sent us a picture of an APU ski patch from the 1960s that shows a Viking on cross-country skis.

GOLD FOR GOLDENVIEW?

And the gold medal for reading goes to ...

Goldenview Middle School is leading the way in the Reading Games, an Olympic-inspired reading competition between six Anchorage School District middle schools.

Students keep track of the number of minutes they ready during the month of February. Each log must include at least 120 minute of reading, with material coming from one of five categories -- sports, history, fantasy, science fiction and "your choice."

To win an individual gold medal, a student must log at least 120 minutes of reading in all five categories. Silver goes to those who do complete logs in four categories and bronze goes to those who complete logs in three categories.

Karen Johnson, the library at Gruening Middle School, said kids even get credit for reading the Sochi Report. Woo-hoo.

"We have had a lot of participation and the students have been involved with making promotional items as well as awards," Johnson said via email.

As of Wednesday, Goldenview (793 enrollment) was leading the competition between schools. Students there have read an average of 48 minutes. The battle for silver is between Gruening (603 enrollment) and Hanshew (788 enrollment). Gruening kids are averaging about 38 minutes and Hanshew kids are averaging about 36.

WHO'S ON DECK?

All times Alaska

Thursday

Figure skating -- Women's free skating, 6 a.m. (Ashley Wagner)

Friday

Alpine skiing -- Women's slalom, first run 3:45 a.m., second run 7:15 a.m. (Anna Berecz)

Biathlon -- Women's relay, 5:30 a.m. (TBD)

Saturday

Cross-country skiing -- Women's 30-kilometer mass start freestyle, 12:30 a.m. (TBD)

RUSSIAN 101

Ole Einar Bjorndalen's gold medal in the cross-country relay Wednesday made him the most decorated athlete in the history of the Winter Olympics, prompting a quick Wikipedia search for multiple medal winners.

A total of 120 athletes have won seven or more Olympic medals, and the vast majority -- 96 -- are Summer Games atheltes.

Of the Winter Olympians with seven or more medals, cross-country skiers and long-track speedskaters dominate. There's one alpine skier and one short-track speedskater on the list -- Norway's Kjetil Andre Aamodt (8 medals) and America's Apolo Ohno (8 medals).

Written and compiled by Daily News sports editor Beth Bragg, with contributions from wire services and Nathaniel Herz, who is in Sochi for fasterskier.com and the Daily News.

Anchorage Daily News is pleased to provide this opportunity to share information, experiences and observations about what's in the news. Some of the comments may be reprinted elsewhere in the site or in the newspaper. We encourage lively, open debate on the issues of the day, and ask that you refrain from profanity, hate speech, personal comments and remarks that are off point. Thank you for taking the time to offer your thoughts.

Commenting FAQs | Terms of Service