Central Oregonians make marks at Olympics

Skiers, snowboarders and coaches represented the region well

By Mark Morical / The Bulletin / @MarkMorical


Published Feb 25, 2014 at 12:01AM / Updated Feb 25, 2014 at 12:14PM

The sports of alpine skiing, cross-country skiing and snowboarding were well represented by Central Oregonians at the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia.

Bend snowboarder Kent Callister turned in one of the best performances of his career in the halfpipe at the Sochi Games. The 18-year-old made the finals and placed ninth as the top Australian, and he finished ahead of all U.S. riders except snowboarding icon Shaun White, who was fourth.

“It was just unreal. That’s the best contest I’ve ever been in,” Callister was quoted saying on the Australian Olympic Team website. “I just had so much fun out there riding with everyone. It was a really good experience.”

Callister, whose father is Australian, has dual citizenship. In 2012 he made the decision to compete for Australia, figuring he had a better chance of reaching the Olympics than he would as part of the U.S. team.

“I’d just like to soak it all up and remember it for the rest of my life,” Callister said of his first Olympic experience.

Bend’s Laurenne Ross raced in three alpine skiing events for the United States in her Olympic debut, posting an 11th-place finish in the downhill, her highest placing of the season in that event.

“I was definitely nervous and excited in the start but came out skiing hard and had my best result of the year,” Ross said. “Though I was a bit tense and not as aggressive as I would have liked to be, I am really happy. … Just to be at the Olympics has been incredible, and although only the top three places count, I have learned so much.”

Ross, 25, crashed in the downhill portion of the super combined and did not finish. She also did not finish the super-G event.

Bend’s Justin Wadsworth, 45, served as head coach of the Canadian men’s cross-country ski team at the Sochi Games. Under Wadsworth’s direction, the Canadian men placed 12th in the 4x10-kilometer relay. Alex Harvey finished 18th in the skiathlon, 19th in the sprint freestyle final, and 19th in the 50K mass start freestyle for Canada.

Wadsworth, a former U.S. Olympian in cross-country skiing, also made news when he came to the aid of Russian skier Anton Gafarov, who crashed and broke one of his skis in half during the finals of the men’s sprint. Wadsworth ran onto the race course and provided a replacement ski for Gafarov, who managed to finish the race.

Longtime Bend resident Rob Roy, 65, was the Canadian women’s alpine snowboarding coach at the 2014 Winter Olympics. He also coaches Switzerland’s Patrizia Kummer, who won the gold medal in snowboarding’s parallel giant slalom. Three of Roy’s Canadian boarders placed in the top 10 of that event. A few days later, Kummer finished ninth in the new Olympic discipline of parallel slalom.

Bend’s J.D. Downing, coach of the Bend-based XC Oregon elite cross-country ski team, served as coach of the first Dominican team ever to take part in the Winter Olympics. Gary di Silvestri, 47, and his wife, Angelica Morrone di Silvestri, 48, were given Dominican citizenship after doing philanthropic work in the country and on other Caribbean islands.

They did some of their training in Central Oregon with Downing, 47, as they qualified for the Olympics.

But bad luck struck the couple at the Sochi Games. Morrone di Silvestri broke her nose in a training session before the 10K classic and was forced to withdraw from the event. She was due to become the oldest cross-country skier in the history of the Olympic Winter Games, but instead she underwent three operations on her nose and spent 36 hours in intensive care, according to www.sochi2014.com.

She watched from her hospital bed when her husband competed in the 15K classic, during which he collapsed 300 meters into the race after suffering from bacterial gastroenteritis, the website reported.

The Sochi Games were the fourth Winter Olympics for former Bend resident and cross-country skier Torin Koos, 33, who trained in Central Oregon before the 2010 Vancouver Games. In Sochi, he finished 37th in the men’s sprint free qualification.

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