Cogdell won bronze in Beijing

Corey Cogdell is pure Alaskan -- born in Palmer, raised in Chickaloon, home-schooled in Eagle River and a familiar face at the state's shooting ranges.

Shooters from the Birchwood Recreational Area Shooting Park in Chugiak and the Fairbanks Trap Club helped raise money to send her dad, Dick Cogdell, to London. Her bucket list includes going on a Dall sheep hunt.

She doesn't spend nearly as much time in Alaska as she'd like, because her pursuit of Olympic glory means she must live in Colorado Springs, Colo., where she has a coach, team and a shooting range.

She made a stunning Olympic debut in Beijing, defying her youth and relative inexperience to win the bronze medal in women's trapshooting. She's 25 now and realizes how remarkable that performance was.

"I have learned so much in the last four years compared to what I knew in 2008," Cogdell said in a phone interview earlier this month. "Looking back I realize how little I really knew. I was running off pure talent and adrenaline and a will to succeed.

"I'm so much mentally tougher now and I have a greater understanding of the techniques."

Winning an Olympic medal at age 21 put loads of pressure on Cogdell as she pursued a return trip to the Olympics this year.

She has turned into something of a comeback kid. At the 2008 Olympic trials, she rallied to earn a trip to Beijing. There, she came from behind in the finals to force a shootoff for the bronze medal.

This year, she came from behind to claim the lone spot give to the United States in women's trapshooting. The U.S. Olympic qualifying trials consisted of a competition in September and another in May, and Cogdell entered the second segment of qualifying down by six shots. She wound up dominating and winning by 10 shots.

"This Olympic trials was way more stressful than the Olympic trials in 2008," Cogdell said. "There's some incredible young girls that have really been pushing me to take my shooting to a different level.

"(But) now I have a much better understanding of what to do with that pressure. Looking back, going into finals in 2008, that's really when the pressure started to hit me. I didn't shoot a good final. If had shot what I was capable of at that time I would have a gold medal instead of bronze.

"I feel that over the last couple of years that kind of experience has helped me a tremendous amount."

At least Cogdell is enjoying some carefree moments in London before the women's trapshooting begins at midnight Saturday. "Headed to get some real British fish and chips! love the London underground," she tweeted Saturday.

The night before, Cogdell walked in her second Opening Ceremonies. As she waited for the Parade of Athletes, she sent another tweet.

"In the tunnel waiting to see the crowd," she wrote. "GOOSE BUMPS."