Five Catamount Olympians Compete in Sochi
- By Amanda Kenyon Waite
Skiers, skaters, hockey players — University of Vermont connections to the Winter Olympics run long and deep. Over 58 years and through 16 consecutive Olympics, UVM alumni have suited up for the Winter Games. Sochi is no exception. Follow Kris Freeman '99, Martin St. Louis '97, Patrick Sharp '02, Lowell Bailey '05 and Elli Terwiel '15 as they compete for the U.S. and Canada, Feb. 7-23.
A civil engineering student with an eye on master’s work in architecture, Elli Terwiel took a hiatus from her studies this year to focus on her Olympic bid. That decision paid off when she was named to the Canadian alpine team Jan. 27.
A two-time All-American at UVM, Terwiel was the Eastern Intercollegiate Ski Association Alpine Rookie of the Year and helped lead the Catamounts to the NCAA National Championship in 2012. While she’s also on hiatus from competing for the Catamounts this year, that hasn’t kept her from joining her once and future teammates in some practice runs:
While it’s Terwiel’s debut at the Games, alumnus Lowell Bailey joins Team U.S.A. for his third Olympic winter biathlon. Armed with the experience of Torino in 2006 and Vancouver in 2010, Bailey has his sites set on a podium appearance in Sochi.
Reflecting on a tough race in Vancouver, Bailey told Vermont Quarterly, “I didn’t come away with the results that I wanted, but after some space, after some time had passed…I was able to realize I had learned an awful lot about what biathlon meant to me, why I was doing the sport, how to carry myself in the face of certain distractions and pressures,” he said. “I think it was extremely humbling in a lot of respects, but it really helped me progress and move on and grow as an athlete, and I’ve used those skills the last four years to get where I am now.”
Bailey’s fans can see exactly where he is now by checking his Olympic blog or following him on Twitter:
Another newcomer to the Olympics, Patrick Sharp will skate for the Canadian Hockey Team. Sharp is fifth straight former Catamount men's hockey player to represent his country at the Winter Olympics since NHL players became eligible in 1998.
Sharp, who plays for the defending Stanley Cup Champion Chicago Blackhawks, ranks fourth in the NHL with 27 goals, including eight on the power play, this season. The forward registered nine goals in a seven-game stretch earlier this year and is 11th among the league leaders in scoring with 53 points. Follow Sharp on Twitter.
Kris Freeman, an All-American during his career at UVM, will ski in cross-country competitions for the U.S. for the fourth time in his career. A 16-time national champion, he is one of the most successful cross-country skiers in the United States and competes at a world-class level despite having type 1 diabetes.
In an interview with Parade.com in January, Freeman talked about a variety of ways diabetes affects his training, among them how high-stress situations — something an Olympic athlete knows a bit about — can impact his performance: “Stress and stress hormones, like cortisol and adrenaline, can have a very profound effect on your glucose levels. Cortisol deadens the sensitivity of the muscles to insulin, so it makes sugar pool in my blood more, and then adrenaline actually releases sugar from my liver, which once again raises my sugar. A normal person’s body would make up more insulin to take care of that rise in glucose, but obviously I have diabetes and I don’t make any insulin, so it’s very difficult to control my blood sugar when I’m under a lot of strain and stress, so I’ve been working towards staying relaxed in stressful situations.”
Not only has Freeman overcome his health condition, he’s also qualified for Sochi despite being cut from the U.S. Ski Team in advance of the Games, losing thousands of dollars in support as well as health insurance. He spoke with NPR about this in late January for this story: “U.S. Olympic Skier Finds Team Spirit, Minus the Team.”
Update: Martin St. Louis gets a second turn at the Olympics. On Feb. 6 he was named as a replacement on the Canadian men's hockey team for injured Tampa Bay Lightning teammate Steven Stamkos. St. Louis leads the Lightning in scoring this year with 54 points on 25 goals and 29 assists. He ranks 11th in the National Hockey League in goal scoring and is tied for 16th in points. The Quebec native also represented Canada at the 2006 Winter Olympics in Torino, Italy, where he tied for the team-lead with a pair of goals.
Speaking to media after the announcement, St. Louis said of his second trip to the Olympics: "It’s an experience you remember for a long time. For me, with my kids being older, to see their dad on that stage… Obviously, I’m happy for my career, but I’m happy as a dad to do that and have my kids see that.”
This report was prepared with UVM Athletics.