Central Oregon’s Olympic home team

Area athletes and coaches taking part in Sochi Winter Games

By Mark Morical / The Bulletin / @MarkMorical


Central Oregon Olympians

(All times PST; Sochi time is 12 hours ahead)

LAURENNE ROSS, 25

Country: United States

Event: Alpine skiing

Scheduled to compete: Sunday and Monday in women’s super combined (downhill runs at 11 p.m. Sunday, slalom runs at 3 a.m. Monday); may also compete in downhill, set for Tuesday at 11 p.m., and/or super-G, set for Feb. 14 at 11 p.m.

KENT CALLISTER, 18

Country: Australia

Event: Snowboard halfpipe

Scheduled to compete: Tuesday, qualification at 2 a.m., semifinals at 7 a.m., finals at 9:30 a.m.

Central Oregon has a rich history of talented skiers and snowboarders.

So it should come as no surprise that our region will once again be well-represented at a Winter Olympics.

Two athletes from Bend have qualified to compete in the 2014 Winter Games, which begin today in Sochi, Russia: alpine skier Laurenne Ross for the United States and halfpipe snowboarder Kent Callister for Australia.

Ross is set to race in the super combined (downhill and slalom), scheduled for this Sunday and Monday. The U.S. Team has not yet announced if she will also compete in the downhill, set for Tuesday, and/or the super-G, slated for Feb. 14.

In super combined, racers are ranked based on their combined time of a downhill run and a slalom run.

The 25-year-old Ross is one of just two athletes from Oregon on the 230-member U.S. Olympic Team for the Sochi Games. The other is fellow alpine skier Jacqueline Wiles, of Aurora.

Ross’ best World Cup placings this season are a 17th in downhill, a 20th in super combined, and a 21st in super-G.

She was one of six American women to reach the World Cup podium in the 2012-13 season, posting a second-place finish in the downhill at a competition in Germany.

Demonstrating her versatility, she then won the super-G title at the 2013 U.S. National Championships.

After earning an 11th-place finish in super combined at the 2013 World Championships, Ross is looking to carry that momentum into Sochi as she makes her Olympic debut.

She said she has nothing to lose at the Olympics.

“I can’t wait to put everything on the line … to be able to ski my fastest and have no regrets or fear,” she said in a recent email.

Callister, who has dual citizenship because his father is Australian, is set to compete in the snowboard halfpipe competition on Tuesday.

The 18-year-old Callister was invited to join the U.S. Snowboarding Rookie halfpipe team in 2012, but he chose to go with the Aussies, figuring he had a better chance of reaching his first Olympics because the U.S. team is so stacked with talent.

Halfpipe snowboarders are judged on the difficulty, execution and amplitude of the aerial tricks they perform as they soar in and out of the pipe.

“I’d like to throw in some new tricks and just have some fun with my riding and hopefully make the finals,” Callister said.

Callister and Ross are following a long line of Winter Olympians with Central Oregon ties.

Three athletes from Central Oregon competed in the 2010 Winter Olympics in Vancouver, including Chris Klug (alpine snowboarding), Torin Koos (nordic skiing) and Tommy Ford (alpine skiing).

Klug, who won an Olympic bronze medal in 2002, has retired. Ford broke his right leg about a year ago, which left him off the slopes for this season.

Koos, who was raised in Leavenworth, Wash., but lived in Bend for two years leading up to the Vancouver Games, has since moved to Bozeman, Mont. The six-time national champion won the 2014 national sprint freestyle title to secure his fourth Olympic berth.

Canadian nordic skier Beckie Scott, of Bend, won the Olympic silver medal at the 2006 Winter Games in Turin, Italy, in the team pursuit. She was the first North American ever to win an Olympic medal in cross-country skiing when she claimed bronze at the 2002 Games in Salt Lake City. After both of the Russian skiers who finished ahead of Scott in the 5-kilometer race later failed doping tests, she was eventually awarded the gold medal.

Scott retired from competitive nordic skiing after the 2006 Games, but her husband, Justin Wadsworth, is still heavily involved in World Cup and Olympic racing. A three-time U.S. Olympian, Wadsworth is now the head coach of the Canadian men’s cross-country ski team, which is favored to take home some hardware from Sochi.

“I really feel if this team doesn’t get two medals I’ll feel a bit of disappointment …” Wadsworth said.

Another nordic ski coach from Bend, J.D. Downing, is set to coach the first team ever to represent the country of Dominica in the Winter Olympics. Downing, director of the Bend-based XC Oregon nordic ski team, will coach a husband-and-wife duo that will be competing for the tiny Caribbean island nation.

Peter Foley, of Hood River, is once again serving as the head coach of the U.S. snowboard team. A pioneer in the early days of snowboarding, Foley was the first coach of the U.S. snowboard team in 1994. Since then, he has gone on to develop and coach the entire U.S. snowboarding program.

He has coached every U.S. Olympic team since snowboarding’s Winter Games debut in 1998 and has won numerous domestic and international coaching awards from the U.S. Ski and Snowboard Association.

— Reporter: 541-383-0318, mmorical@bendbulletin.com

Inside

Shaun White announces he will not participate in the slopestyle competition, instead choosing to compete only in halfpipe, C2

Citing injury risks, White pulls out of slopestyle competition

SOCHI, Russia — Extreme-sports icon Shaun White, citing the potential risk of injury, on Wednesday pulled out of the slopestyle snowboarding competition at the Olympics.

White had called the course at Rosa Khutor Extreme Park “intimidating,” and already it had become the source of controversy in the first two days of training — most notably in the case of Norwegian medal hopeful Torstein Horgmo, who withdrew after breaking his collarbone in a crash on Monday.

The decision for White was multi-pronged. He jammed his wrist in a slopestyle training fall on Tuesday and made the call to concentrate primarily on trying to win his third Olympic gold medal in the halfpipe event.

“The difficult decision to forgo slopestyle is not one I take lightly as I know how much effort everyone has put into holding the slopestyle event for the first time in Olympic history, a history I had planned on being a part of,” White said in a statement to NBC’s “Today Show,” which broke the news.

“With the practice runs I have taken, even after course modifications and watching fellow athletes get hurt, the potential risk of injury is a bit too much for me to gamble my other Olympics goals on,” White said.

White’s withdrawal was a significant blow to the event, which is making its Olympic debut.

The news came shortly after White and his halfpipe teammates held a news conference in the afternoon here, during which he went out of his way to say that his wrist injury had been “blown out of proportion a little bit.”

Afterward, he was asked more questions about the slopestyle course before the line of inquiry was stopped by an official.

“On snowboarding you get bumps and bruises all the time,” White said at the news conference. “It was the ankle, it was the shoulder. It was all these things, but they come and go, which is nice if it wasn’t something serious.

“Definitely concerns about the course. It’s been interesting to see how it’s developed and changed over the past few days. I guess the big question is if it will continue to change. Every day they have the riders meeting, they get feedback. Sometimes there’s changes, sometimes there’s not.”

— Los Angeles Times