The following story appeared in the Feb. 7, 2010 issue of the New Hampshire Sunday News.
From beginning to end, the 21st Winter Olympics will have a New Hampshire flavor.
When the Vancouver games begin with ski-jumping competition at Whistler Olympic Park on Friday, Lebanon’s Nick Alexander is slated to be among the participants. Over the ensuing 16 days, 23 more athletes and one coach with Granite State ties will go for gold.
Among those contending for the podium will be Franconia skier Bode Miller, a two-time Olympic silver medalist who plans to grace Whistler’s slopes in all five alpine events. On the cross-country trails, 13-time national champion Kris Freeman of Andover will seek to become the first athlete with Type 1 diabetes to win an Olympic endurance event. And freestyle skier Hannah Kearney, a Hanover High School graduate and former moguls world champion, will strive to add an Olympic title to her resume.
In women’s hockey, Dartmouth College graduates Gillian Apps and Cherie Piper will lead Canada on its quest for a third consecutive gold medal. But they’ll have to outlast a U.S. squad anchored by Hanover’s Hilary Knight and University of New Hampshire grad Kacey Bellamy. On the men’s side, six former Manchester Monarchs will skate in the Olympic tournament.
A quick rundown on New Hampshire’s Olympians:
Patrick Biggs, Canada (Dartmouth College): The 27-year-old from Orleans, Ontario, will compete in his second Olympics. An Australian native, Biggs is a former Canadian national champion who is expected to compete in slalom on Feb. 27.
Jimmy Cochran, United States (Keene): At his second Olympics, the 28-year-old will compete in slalom. Scion of a prominent skiing family — his father and three aunts were all Olympic skiers — Cochran finished 12th in slalom at the 2006 Olympics.
Tommy Ford, United States (Dartmouth College): The 20-year-old racer will make his Olympic debut, most likely in the giant slalom on Feb. 21. A Bend, Ore., native, Ford won silver medals in slalom at the 2009 Alpine Junior World Championships and in giant slalom at the 2009 U.S. Alpine Championships.
Bode Miller, United States (Franconia): At his fourth Olympics, the 32-year-old plans to race the downhill (Saturday), super combined (Feb. 16), super G (Feb. 19), giant slalom and slalom. A four-time world champion, Miller won silver in giant slalom and combined at the 2002 Salt Lake City Olympics. Back with the U.S. Ski Team after two years competing on his own, he recently won a World Cup super combined event in Switzerland but is coming off an ankle injury.
Leanne Smith, United States (Conway): The 22-year-old, who grew up on the slopes of Mount Cranmore, will make her Olympic debut. A graduate of Conway’s Kennett High School who attended UNH for a year, Smith earned an Olympic berth despite having torn her ACL last January. Look for her in the super combined next Sunday.
Andrew Weibrecht, United States (Dartmouth College): The 23-year-old from Lake Placid, N.Y., will make his Olympic debut. Weibrecht has been a consistent top-20 finisher in World Cup downhill and super G events this season. Look for him in the downhill, super combined and super G.
Laura Spector, United States (Dartmouth College): The 22-year-old from Lenox, Mass., will make her Olympic debut. Look for the former Dartmouth cross-country skier in multiple events, including the 4-by-6-kilometer relay on Feb. 23.
Sara Studebaker, United States (Dartmouth College 2007): The 25-year-old from Boise, Idaho, will make her Olympic debut. Captain of Dartmouth’s 2007 NCAA champion ski team, Studebaker figures to compete in multiple events, including the relay.
Kris Freeman, United States (Andover): The 29-year-old will compete in his third consecutive Olympics. The U.S. champion in the 15-kilometer freestyle, Freeman finished 15th in the 20-kilometer pursuit at the 2002 Olympics. Look for him to compete in up to six events, starting with the 15-kilometer freestyle race on Feb. 15.
Ben Koons, New Zealand (Dartmouth College): The 23-year-old will make his Olympic debut. A Kiwi who moved to Maine at 14, Koons is expected to compete in up to four events, starting with the 15-kilometer freestyle.
Tucker Murphy, Bermuda (Dartmouth 2004): The 28-year-old will make his Olympic debut. After growing up in Bermuda, Murphy learned to ski at St. Paul’s School in Concord. A 2004 Rhodes scholar, Murphy is expected to compete in the 15-kilometer freestyle.
Hannah Kearney, United States (Hanover High School): The 23-year-old will make her second Olympic moguls appearance on Saturday. A resident of Norwich, Vt., who starred in soccer for and graduate from Hanover High School, Kearney won the 2005 world championship in moguls and finished 22nd in moguls at the 2006 Olympics.
Gillian Apps, Canada (Dartmouth 2006): The 26-year-old forward from Unionville, Ontario, will seek her second gold medal as a member of Team Canada, which opens against Slovakia on Saturday. At the 2006 Olympics, the former Big Green captain scored seven goals, tied for tops in the tournament.
Kacey Bellamy, United States (UNH 2009): The 22-year-old defender from Westfield, Mass., will make her Olympic debut for the United States, which opens against China next Sunday. A member of two world-champion U.S. teams (2008-09), Bellamy played four years at UNH, earning first-team Hockey East all-star honors as a senior.
Dustin Brown, United States (former Manchester Monarch): The 25-year-old Los Angeles Kings captain will make his Olympic debut, serving as an associate captain for the U.S. squad, which opens against Switzerland on Feb. 16. An Ithaca, N.Y., native, Brown was an NHL All-Star in 2009 and played for the Monarchs in 2004-05.
Dave Flint, United States (Merrimack): The coach of Northeastern University’s women’s team will serve as an assistant coach for the U.S. women’s squad. The former women’s hockey mentor at St. Anselm College, Flint played goaltender for North Adams (Mass.) State College and Manchester’s Trinity High School.
Denis Grebeshkov, Russia (former Manchester Monarch): The 26-year-old Edmonton Oilers defenseman will make his Olympic debut for Russia, which opens against Latvia on Feb. 16. Grebeshkov played for the Monarchs in 2003-04 and 2004-05.
Jason Holland, Germany (former Manchester Monarch): The 33-year-old blueliner will make his Olympic debut for Germany, which opens against Sweden on Feb. 17. A Canadian who plays professionally in Germany, Holland played parts of seven seasons in the NHL and played for the Monarchs in 2001-02, 2002-03 and 2004-05.
Hilary Knight, United States (Hanover): The 20-year-old forward will make her Olympic debut. As a sophomore at the University of Wisconsin last season, Knight was the nation’s top scorer and led the Badgers to an NCAA title.
Cherie Piper, Canada (Dartmouth 2006): The 28-year-old forward from East York, Ontario, will chase her third gold medal, having played on Canada’s winning squads in Salt Lake City and Turin. She was the second-leading scorer at the 2006 Olympics.
Jonathan Quick, United States (former Manchester Monarch): The 24-year-old Los Angeles Kings netminder will make his Olympic debut as one of three goaltenders on the U.S. squad. After spending parts of the 2007-08 and 2008-09 seasons with the Monarchs, the Milford, Conn., product is in his first full season with the Kings.
Chris Schmidt, Germany (former Manchester Monarch): The 33-year-old Canadian defenseman will make his Olympic debut for Germany, where he is in his fifth season playing professionally. Schmidt played 13 minor-league seasons, including four with the Monarchs (2001-05).
John Tripp, Germany (former Manchester Monarch): The 32-year-old Canadian forward will make his Olympic debut for Germany, where he is in his sixth season playing professionally. Tripp played parts of two seasons in the NHL and spent part of the 2003-04 campaign with the Monarchs.
Nick Alexander, United States (Lebanon): The 21-year-old will make his Olympic debut. The son of Lebanon’s police chief, he learned to ski jump at the town’s tiny Storrs Hill ski area. Look for him in two individual events, the normal hill (Friday-Saturday) and large hill (Feb. 19-20).
Scotty Lago, United States (Seabrook): The 22-year-old will make his Olympic debut. The 2004 world quarterpipe champion, Lago grew up snowboarding at Loon Mountain and Waterville Valley. Look for him in the men’s halfpipe on Feb. 17.
By MIKE CULLITY
New Hampshire Union Leader