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Sochi Report-Alaska Edition: Schultz stars in curling video, Alborn's tunnel vision a boon for women ski jumpers

Beth Bragg

DON'T SKIP THIS VIDEO

They sing! They dance! They curl!

Get in the mood for curling -- which begins at 1 a.m. Alaska time on Monday -- by watching a YouTube video starring Anchorage's Jessica Schultz and her U.S. teammates.

It's called "What Does the Skip Say?" -- the team's version of "What Does the Fox Say," a popular video by Ylvis, a Norwegian duo that parodies pop music.

Curling fans will love it -- there can't be many YouTube videos out there that use curling lingo.

Not sure what kind of animal costume Schultz is wearing, but it's cute.

SADIE'S DEBUT, HOLLY'S LAMENT

Minnesota's Jessie Diggins and Vermont's Liz Stephen delivered a powerful statement in the first cross-country race of the Olympics: Watch out for the American women.

Diggins and Stephen made history Saturday, giving the U.S. two women in the top 15 for the first time in an Olympic race. "I'm on cloud nine right now," Diggins said.

For every athlete on cloud nine at the Olympics, however, there is one searching for a silver lining. Anchorage's Holly Brooks was one of those.

Brooks finished last among four American racers in the 15-kilometer skiathlon, a 7.5-K skate race followed by 7.5 kilometers of classic racing. She placed 47th in a field of 61 racers.

"The skiathlon has always been a hard event for me," she told fasterskier.com. "These are the steepest, longest hills in the entire world. ... I'm a little more of a V-2, flat skier. So it's brutal for me.

"But the sun is out, it's the Olympics, and some of my teammates had amazing races. Jessie Diggins, my teammate and my roommate, she said she had one of the best races of her life. So that's really inspiring."

The fourth American in the race was Anchorage's Sadie Bjornsen, who placed 31st in her Olympic debut.

"It was good practice for getting used to what the Olympics are like," she said. "There's a lot more nerves and stuff going on that's underestimated."

ALBORN'S TUNNEL VISION

Remember Alan Alborn?

The two-time Olympic ski jumper from Anchorage is back at the Winter Games, this time as a coach.

Alborn is the coach of the U.S. women's ski jumping team, which is getting lots of attention. One, it took a suffragette movement to get the sport into the Olympics, a battle that lasted eight years. Two, the Americans are among the best in the world.

Give Alborn some of the credit.

Last year a wind tunnel opened near Utah's Bonneville Salt Flats, for use primarily by race cars.

But the wind tunnel isn't far from the ski jumping team's Park City base, and Alborn saw an opportunity.

According to a report in Popular Science, Alborn adapted the tunnel so his athletes could train in it. He added an elevated stand with ski bindings, and Darko Technologies, which constructed the tunnel, "built a device that projects lift and drag data onto the floor so that ski jumpers can evaluate it in real time," the magazine reported.

When they return to their outdoor jumps, the women use the data to adjust their form and technique.

"We've already seen dramatic effects on performance," Alborn told Popular Science.

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)

Tuesday

Alpine skiing -- Women's downhill, 10 p.m. (Anna Berecz)
Biathlon -- Women's 10-K pursuit, 6 a.m. (Sara Studebaker, Lanny Barnes)
Curling -- United States vs. Great Britain, 6 a.m. (Jessica Schultz)
Cross-country skiing -- Women's freestyle sprint: 1 a.m., qualifications; 3 a.m. quarterfinals; 3:56 a.m. semifinals; 4:22 a.m. finals (Kikkan Randall)

RUSSIA 101

According to CNN, Russia's first space monkey were trained in Sochi. Abrek and Bion were trained at the Monkey Nursery Center before their seven-day mission in December 1983. The monkey center, home to nearly 3,000 apes, is open to visitors.

Written and 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.

 


By BETH BRAGG
bbragg@adn.com