Skip to main Content
National Sports

Sochi Report, Alaska edition: Stassel's choice, Bjornsen's debut, Ashley Wagner's reaction

  • Author:
  • Updated: September 28, 2016
  • Published February 9, 2014


According to TiVo, Ashley Wagner provided a big watch-rewind-repeat moment Saturday at the Winter Olympics.

Wagner, the figure skater who got her start in Eagle River, was visibly unhappy with her scores from her short program in this year's new team competition. She was ecstatic when she completed her program -- music by Pink Floyd, that figure skating staple -- but her scores were lower than anticipated, and she couldn't hide her reaction.

Her remark to a coach in the kiss-and-cry area made lip-reader-wannabes rewind again and again in an effort to figure out what she said. (Sochi Report watched three times and believes it was a two-syllable word that starts with 'b').

It's becoming the McKayla Maroney moment of the Games. A photo of Wagner's reaction is all over the Internet (and appeared in Sunday's Daily News).

On Sunday, Wagner was all smiles. She and her U.S. teammates claimed the bronze medal.


Anchorage snowboarder Ryan Stassel had to make a tough choice last week -- go to the Opening Ceremonies or skip the show in favor of rest. He deliberated on Facebook:

"There's times in life when you have to make a decision of what really matters.

1: Olympic Opening Ceremonies.. Estimated time be back at the hotel 2 am.

2: Olympic Snowboard Slope Style Semis... Practice 8:30, Start 9:30 am.

Looks like I'm getting a good nights sleep tonight."


Erik Bjornsen had been racing for nearly an hour and had just five kilometers left Sunday when it hit him.

He was about to become an Olympian.

Bjornsen, who lives in Anchorage and trains at Alaska Pacific University, placed 42nd and was the second American finisher in the men's 30-kilometer skiathlon, the race that marked the Olympic debut for the 22-year-old.

"Once I got down to that last lap, it hit me, like, I'm going to be an Olympian after this next lap! It was a lot of fun. It was sweet," Bjornsen told reporters.

Bjornson clocked 1:12:42.3 and was the fastest U.S. skier in the classic portion of the race, ranking 33rd. The skiathlon featured 15 kilometers of classic racing followed by 15 kilometers of skate skiing.

Brian Gregg of Minneapolis, a former All-America skier for UAA, placed 47th in 1:13:26.3. He tweeted that it was his first skiathlon since 2009.

The only other athlete with Alaska ties to compete Sunday was biathlete Sara Studebaker, who trains in Anchorage and is engaged to Nikiski biathlete Zach Hall. She was 44th, and the second American, in the 7.5-kilometer sprint -- good enough to qualify her for the pursuit later this week.

It was her best result of the season.


Here's a look at upcoming events featuring Alaskans or Alaska-connected athletes:


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

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

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


Alpine skiing -- Women's downhill, 10 p.m. (Anna Berecz)

Biathlon -- Women's 10-K pursuit, 6 a.m. (Sara Studebaker, Lanny Barne)

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)


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

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


Sochi was a favorite vacation spot of Joseph Stalin, the longtime leader of the Soviet Union. His villa there is a private hotel now, with tours available. A USA Today video of the vacation home, called a dacha, shows a lifestyle wax figure of Stalin sitting at a desk.

For more newsletters click here

Local news matters.

Support independent, local journalism in Alaska.