Central Oregon’s Olympic home team

Area athletes and coaches taking part in Sochi Winter Games

By Mark Morical / The Bulletin / @MarkMorical

Published Feb 6, 2014 at 12:01AM / Updated Feb 6, 2014 at 05:55AM

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

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