Eagle River’s Alev Kelter set to begin Olympic whirlwind with 3 rugby matches in 25 hours

The Summer Olympics will come rushing at Eagle River’s Alev Kelter today.

Kelter and her U.S. women’s rugby sevens teammates will play three games in 25 hours at Tokyo Stadium, a blitz that begins at 5 p.m. ADT Wednesday with a match against China.

The Americans face Japan at 1 a.m. Thursday and wrap up pool play with a match against Australia at 5:30 p.m. Thursday.

The compact schedule is manageable because a game lasts about as long as Katie Ledecky’s gold-medal swim in the 1,500-meter freestyle. There are two seven-minute halves separated by a two-minute halftime -- 16 minutes from start to finish.

This is the second Olympics for Kelter, 30. Rugby sevens made its Olympic debut at the 2016 Rio Games, where Kelter helped the Americans to a fifth-place finish.

The Chugiak High graduate is a force. She’s a star in the World Rugby Seven Series, the major leagues of rugby, where she is U.S. Rugby’s all-time leader in points (802), tackles (250), tries (93) and match appearances (33).

The United States is one of 12 teams competing in Tokyo and expected to be in the mix for a medal; the Associated Press predicts bronze.


Kelter thinks that’s a fair expectation. “This team is extremely gifted,” she said.

Teams are divided into three pools, four to a pool. The top eight will advance to the knockout round, aka the quarterfinals, late Thursday night. The semifinals and the matches for gold and bronze are early Friday evening.

Correction: Kelter’s third game is Thursday at 5:30 p.m. ADT, not at 5 p.m.

Beth Bragg

Beth Bragg wrote about sports and other topics for the ADN for more than 35 years, much of it as sports editor. She retired in October 2021. She's contributing coverage of Alaskans involved in the 2022 Winter Olympics.