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Sochi Report, Alaska Edition -- UAA skier sees improvement, Schultz opens with curling loss

Beth Bragg

UAA'S BERECZ 21st

Skiing for Hungary, UAA junior Anna Berecz placed 21st in the women's combined on Monday, an improvement over her 27th-place finish four years ago in Vancouver.

Give a little credit for her improvement to the Seawolves.

When Berecz, 25, first heard about UAA, downhill was her best event and she put more time it and alpine skiing's other speed event, super-G, than she did on the technical events of slalom and giant slalom.

NCAA skiing doesn't offer downhill or super-G, but when UAA coach Sparky Anderson first met Berecz at a race series in the spring of 2011, he had a hunch Berecz could help the Seawolves as a gate-runner.

"Right away I knew that she had a lot of potential in (slalom and giant slalom)," he said. "She's worked really hard on the technical events ... and has worked her way into being one of the top skiers (in the conference)."

It paid off Monday at the Olympics. Berecz placed 33rd in the downhill portion of Monday's combined. In the slalom, she shot up to 21st place. Germany's Marai Hoefl-Riesch claimed the gold, and Julia Mancuso took bronze for the U.S.

Berecz, who is from Budapest and has been on Hungary's national team since 2003, will be in Sochi through the duration of the Games. Her absence leaves UAA short-handed, but Anderson isn't complaining.

"Anna is missing roughly half of the NCAA skiing season, including Western Region Championships," he said. "As one of our top three female alpine scorers, that hurts us.

"Of course the trade off is helping someone achieve a life-long dream. We couldn't be happier for Anna."

ALASKA'S MEDALISTS

Going into the Sochi Games, Alaskans have won six medals at the Winter Olympics:

1992 Albertville Olympics -- Hilary Lindh, silver medal, downhill

1994 Lillehammer Olympics -- Tommy Moe, gold medal, downhill

1994 Lillehammer Olympics -- Tommy Moe, silver medal, super-G

2006 Turin Olympics -- Rosey Fletcher, bronze medal, alpine snowboarding

2006 Turin Olympics -- Pam Dreyer, bronze medal, women's hockey

2010 Winter Olympics -- Kerry Weiland, silver medal, women's hockey

SWISS MISS FOR CURLERS

Jessica Schultz and her teammates squandered an early lead to lose their first round-round game in curling. Switzerland, the 2012 world champions, beat the Americans 7-4 after trailing 2-0 after the third end.

The game was the first of nine in the round-robin tournament, which makes the curlers some of the busiest athletes at the Olympics. Schultz, a two-time Olympian who graduated from East High, was back in action late Monday night in a game against Russia.

U.S. skip Erika Brown, a three-time Olympian, said the rocks moved differently than expected at Sochi's excellently named Ice Cube Center.

"There were a couple of rocks that ran straighter than the rest," she said. "They behaved differently today than they have in the last few days. We thought we had them figured out, and tried to manage them the best we could."

WHO'S ON DECK?

(Alaska times)

Wednesday

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

Freestyle skiing -- Men's slopestyle skiing qualification (Dave Duncan), 9:15 p.m.

Thursday

Freestyle skiing -- Men's slopestyle skiing finals, 12:30 a.m. (Dave Duncan)

Curling -- U.S. women vs. Japan, 6 a.m. (Jessica Schultz)

Cross country -- Women's 10-K classic, 1 a.m. (TBA)

RUSSIA 101

The Soviet Union remains a world power, statistically speaking.

The USSR fielded teams for just nine Winter Olympics -- from 1956 to 1988 -- but it is still in the bronze-medal position in the all-time medal count.

Norway tops the list with 303 medals won since the Winter Games began in 1924. The United States is second with 253.

The USSR is third with 194. Twelfth on the list with 91 medals is Russia, with 91 medals won from 1994-2010.

At the 1992 Winter Olympics, the countries of the former Soviet Union competed together under the "Unified Team" banner and collected 23 medals.

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