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Sochi Report, Alaska edition: Callan comes out, Team Asterisk adds 2 more members

Beth Bragg
Callan Chythlook-Sifsof of the USA during the ladies snowboardcross qualifiers at the Vancouver 2010 Olympics in Vancouver, British Columbia, Tuesday, Feb. 16, 2010. (AP Photo/Gerry Broome)
Gerry Broome
Olympic snowboarder Callan Chythlook-Sifsof at Town Square Park in downtown Anchorage for a Sochi Send-off for Alaska athletes on Saturday, November 9, 2013. The 24-year-old told the ESPN news program "Outside the Lines" that she is gay, a revelation she said she wanted to make during the Sochi Olympics. She is not competing in the games.
Bob Hallinen

Callan comes out: 'Not OK to be a bigot'

Callan Chythlook-Sifsof, the Girdwood snowboarder who missed the cut for Team USA, followed through on one of her Olympic plans anyway.

The 24-year-old told the ESPN news program "Outside the Lines" that she is gay, a revelation she said she wanted to make during the Sochi Olympics, where gay rights have become an issue because of Russia's anit-gay laws.

"I realized coming out publicly isn't just about yourself but it's also about realizing the greater scope of what's going on and becoming a voice against something," Chythlook-Sifsof said. "It's important to come out and take a stand and show the world that it's not OK to be a bigot."

Chythlook-Sifsof, who at the 2010 Vancouver Games became the first Alaska Native to compete at the Olympics, is no stranger to speaking her mind. Last year, she wrote an anti-Pebble Mine op-ed piece for the New York Times.

In her interview with "Outside the Lines," which aired Friday, Chythlook-Sifsof said she won't be surprised if one or more athletes in Sochi defy Olympic rules that prohibit athletes from making political statements at the Games.

"It's really likely that we'll see some kind of statement being made," she said. "It's almost a blessing that the Olympics are happening in Russia and these issues are coming out. It gives the world a chance to view it and it gives athletes a chance to voice their opinions about it and to show every country in the world that this is not OK."

Team Asterisk adds 2

Team Asterisk — that group of Olympians who aren’t from Alaska or don’t live in Alaska, but have strong connections here — added two more members Friday:

— Cross-country skier Brian Gregg of Minneapolis.

— Biathlete Lanny Barnes of Durango, Colo.

Gregg placed sixth in the 20-K freestyle race at the 2006 NCAA championships and was a finalist that year for UAA’s Athlete of the Year Award (won by basketball player Kemmy Burgess).

Twice since the Vancouver Olympics, Barnes and her sister Tracy have come to Anchorage to train. They lived with Jim and Sally Burkholder and made use of Kincaid Park’s trails and shooting range, and last summer they helped coach kids in the Eagle Eyes Biathlon program.

“(They) put on weeks of great clinics at the range for Eagle Eyes and other loca biathletes,” said Nordic Ski Association of Anchorage biathlon coach Tom Grenier. “They were simply great and I hope we can have them back again someday.”

Kikkan, others skip Ceremonies

Anchorage medal favorite Kikkan Randall and most of America's other cross-country skiers skipped the Opening Ceremonies, which happened on the eve of the first nordic race.

Instead a bunch of them put on their red-white-and-blue Ralph Lauren sweaters and mugged for photos at the Laura Cross-Country Ski and Biathlon Center, in the mountains above Sochi.

They are thrilled with their temporary home, Anchorage's Sadie Bjornsen said.

"Everyone's helpful, the food's super good, the housing is incredible," she said. "We live in a house, so it's super fun. It feels just like a home, and so far everything's been incredible."

Randall decided to skip Saturday's 15-K pursuit so she could prepare for Tuesday's freestyle sprint, her big event. Bjornsen and Anchorage's Holly Brooks were among those schedule to compete (the race happened overnight, so check adn.com for results).

Russia 101

Sochi is reportedly the longest city in Europe. It stretches 148 kilometers -- nearly 92 miles -- from end to end.

Who's on deck?

A look at upcoming events featuring members of Team Alaska and Team Asterisk. All times are Alaska.

Saturday

Nordic skiing -- 15-K women's skiathlon, 1 a.m. (Holly Brooks, Sadie Bjornsen)

Figure skating -- Team women's short program, 7:10 a.m. (Ashley Wagner)

Sunday

Nordic skiing -- Men's 30-K pursuit, 1 a.m. (Erik Bjornsen, Brian Gregg)

Biathlon -- Women's 7.5-K sprint, 5:30 a.m. (Sara Studebaker, Lanny Barnes)

Figure skating -- Team women's free skate, 7:05 a.m. (Ashley Wagner)

Alpine skiing -- women's super combined downhill, 10 p.m. (Anna Berecz)

Monday

Alpine skiing --Women's super combined slalom, 2 a.m. (Anna Berecz)

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

Curling -- U.S. women vs. Russia, 10 p.m. (Jessica Schultz)

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

 

ESPN Outside the Lines: "Taking a Stand In Sochi"
By BETH BRAGG
bbragg@adn.com
Contact Beth Bragg at bbragg@adn.com or on