With a record number of athletes with UVM ties competing in the 2018 Winter Olympics, it was a notable year for the Cats even before the cauldron was lit in PyeongChang. Across the past two weeks, these alumni and students represented, bringing home medals and notching numerous stand-out performances.
Amanda Pelkey ’15 earned a gold medal as a member of the Olympic champion U.S. women’s hockey team. In a USA Today Network article, teammate Gigi Marvin had high-praise for the rookie Olympian. “Pelkey, she just never doubted,” linemate Marvin said. “Talk about belief and trust. Usually a first-timer gets a little nervous and anxious, and she had no doubt. You could tell, watching her play. I loved going out and skating on a line with her. I never worried about whether she was going to bring her ‘A’ game or not.”
Pelkey is the first former Catamount to win a gold medal since men's hockey alumni Martin St. Louis '97 and Patrick Sharp '02 both took home the gold with Team Canada in 2014. Barbara Cochran won the women's slalom gold in the 1972 Sapporo Games to become UVM's second gold medal winner. And the famed Albert Gutterson was the first Catamount to win the gold, taking the top spot in the long jump at the 1912 Olympic Games.
Jonathan Nordbotten '14 (far left, below) brought home a bronze medal for Norway in the inaugural alpine skiing team event. This bronze helped Norway break the record for the most medals ever won at a single Winter Olympics.
With a narrow podium miss, Kevin Drury '14 finished in fourth place in ski cross for Canada after crashing with Russian Sergey Ridzik, who scored the bronze. "My emotions are all over the place," Drury told USA Today. "Proud. Happy. I'm actually not even bummed. I was immediately after I crashed…But I skied so well today, and having my family here was amazing." Drury's teammate Brady Leman won gold.
2017 World Champion in biathlon Lowell Bailey '05 closed out a career that included four Olympics. Competing in several biathlon individual and relay events, Bailey was part of the team that took sixth place in the 4 x 7.5 relay, a result that tied for the best U.S. effort ever. The alum was the first American in the biathlon 10K sprint, and the second American in the biathlon 12.5K pursuit event.
Scott Patterson '14 was the first American with an 11th-place finish in the men's 50K Nordic race, the best American finish in the event in Olympic history. The previous best was held by Vermonter Bill Koch, who finished 13th in the 1976 and 1980 Games. He was also first American in the 30K skiathlon, 18th overall, and 15K freestyle, 21st overall. Patterson was a member of the 4 x 10K relay team that finished 14th.
Scott's sister Caitlin Patterson '12 skied in two Nordic events at the beginning and end of the games. She was the second American in the 15K skiathlon, 34th overall. In the final event of the Games, Patterson skied to a 26th place finish in the 30K race. Her teammates Kikkan Randall and Vermont resident Jessie Diggins won the first ever Olympic gold medal for the U.S. in Nordic, the only medal of any color ever won by the women's team.
Ryan Gunderson '07 was a member of the U.S. men's hockey team, which finished seventh, and Viktor Stalberg '09 was a member of Sweden's men's hockey team, which finished fifth.
As for our current students, Ida Sargent G'20 finished 34th in the women's sprint classic Nordic race; and Laurence St. Germain '19 was 15th overall and the second Canadian in the women's slalom. Connor Wilson '21 was South Africa's lone Olympian and carried his nation's flag in the opening ceremonies. Competing in giant slalom, Wilson missed a gate and did not finish.
And if there was a gold medal for best supporting actor at the Olympics, it would likely go to Knut Nystad ’94, chief wax technician for the Norwegian cross-country and biathlon teams. Perennial favorites, Norway dominated the podium. New York Times featured Nystad and his waxing team in the article, “Tough Job: Norway’s Ski Wax Chief Is Only Noticed When He Fails.”