HOLLY BROOKS, cross-country skiing
31 years old
2010 Vancouver -- 11th, 4x5-K relay; 35th, 30-K; 38th, sprint; 41st, 10-K; 55th, 7.5/7.5-K pursuit.
Early impression: The first time Brooks appeared in the Daily News, she was a West High coach trying to keep kids interested and active despite poor training conditions in 2004. She sent them on a scavenger hunt to homes around Kincaid Park.
"You can't tell a team of 75 to go out on a two-hour run. This way they get a workout without even knowing it," she said.
Fun facts: Married to Service High grad Rob Whitney, former Alaska high school Skimeister. She coached APU nordic skiers before becoming a member of its elite team. Has a cat named Buggz. Despite a broken wrist, she skied the 2012 Tour de Ski, a grueling series of seven races in nine days.
2012, bronze medal, World Cup 4x5-K relay
2012, fifth place, World Cup 10-K freestyle
2012, Mount Marathon champion
RYAN STASSEL, slopestyle snowboarding
21 years old
Early impression: We first met Stassel when he was 10, taking on a 17-year-old twice his size in the finals of an April 2003 boardercross race in Girdwood. He was a few yards from winning when the older, experienced rider whooshed past him.
"I was like 'What the ... !?' Man, I thought I had him," Stassel said.
Fun facts: Fishes commercially on the Kenai in the summer -- and takes a trampoline with him to stay in shape. Started snowboarding at Hilltop. Graduated from Service High. Got into slopestyle long before it was an Olympic sport.
Three-time U.S. Revolution Tour champion
2014, gold medal, U.S. Grand Prix
2014, bronze medal, U.S. Grand Prix
KIKKAN RANDALL, cross-country skiing
31 years old
2010 Vancouver -- sixth, team sprint; eighth, sprint; 11th, 4x5-K relay; 23rd, 30-K
2006 Turin -- ninth, sprint; 10th, team sprint; 14th, 4x5-K relay, 53rd, 10-K
2002 Salt Lake City -- 44th, sprint; 66th, 10-K pursuit
Early impression: The first time Randall made headlines for a sports achievement was the 1997 Tortoise and Hare 5-K, when she was 14. She chased down two experienced runners -- Ruth Horton and Kjerstin Lastufka, the reigning Crow Pass Crossing champion -- for the win.
"I started putting in the kick and counting down as I got closer -- 14 seconds, 10 seconds, five seconds," Randall said of catching Lastufka with less than two kilometers left. "I started putting in the long strides. I kept counting and I started to push,'' she said of reeling in Horton.
Said Lastufka, "She snuck up on us. She's an awesome runner and she's going to be making some news.''
Fun facts: Makes history every time she wins a World Cup medal -- no American woman, past or present, rivals her record. East High graduate. Rides a unicycle.
24-time World Cup/World Cup Stage medals (11 gold, seven silver, six bronze)
Two World Championship medals (2013 team sprint gold, 2009 freestyle spring silver)
JESSICA SCHULTZ, curling
29 years old
2006 Turin -- eighth place
Early impression: As a 14-year-old, Schultz and three other teens pulled off a shocking championship victory in the Anchorage Curling Club's Spring Bonspiel. They knocked off all the adult teams and scored a lospided win over a team of servicemen from Canada -- the country that owns the sport -- in the finals.
"It was very scary," Schultz said.
Fun facts: Was MVP of the East High softball team in 2003 and an all-conference pick throughout her high school softball career. A gardener, she grew swiss chard last summer without even knowing what it tastes like. Works in Minneapolis as a physical therapy assistant.
2014, U.S. Olympic Team Trials champion
2013, fourth place, World Championships
2005, silver medal, World Championships
SADIE BJORNSEN, cross-country skiing
24 years old
Early impression: After her first season with APU, she helped nudge brother Erik, who was skiing for UAA at the time, to join her.
"Of course I was pushing him. I wanted him to come here because I've had such an awesome experience and it's been such a sweet season. Summers on the glacier? C'mon, Erik!" she said.
Fun facts: Pursues her college degree online while competing, rising early to attend online classes with APU. First came to Anchorage to ski for UAA, then joined APU. Was an NCAA All-America for UAA, placing third in the classic race at the 2009 national championships.
2013, bronze medal, World Cup relay
2013, fourth place, World Cup team sprint
2013, three golds, two silvers, U.S. National Championships
ERIK BJORNSEN, cross-country skiing
22 years old
Early impression: The Bjornsens started as alpine skiers but they lived in Washington's Methow Valley, prime cross-country territory, so they switched sports. Erik remembered his alpine days in 2011, after joining the APU team:
"We started slowly trying it out and I enjoyed it a lot more. When I think back to downhill skiing, I think of being cold and going up the chairlift freezing," he said.
Fun facts: Scored World Cup points for the first time in his career earlier this month; it was his 11th career start on the big stage. Earned NCAA All-America honors by winning a silver medal in the classic race at the 2011 national championships.
2014, 18th place, World Cup 15-K classic
2014, one gold, two silvers, U.S. National Championships
By BETH BRAGG