by Rob Joyce
The Olympics are always a bit overwhelming. Over the course of two weeks there are so many events in so many different sports that it’s nearly impossible to keep track of them all. So which ones should the average viewer in Connecticut watch? If you’re looking for a local flavor to your Winter Games, here are the athletes with ties to the Nutmeg State that will be representing their countries in Pyeongchang:
The third time is the charm for Suffield’s Sweeney in luge, who barely missed out on qualifying in 2010 and 2014. The first miss was especially bittersweet – she lost a race-off to her sister, Megan, for the final spot in Vancouver. She won her first gold medal in the World Cup this past year, taking first in a sprint race. Luge begins on Feb. 9.
A slopestyle and big air snowboarder, the 20-year-old is coming off an excellent 2017 X Games that saw her became the first female to win two medals in the same Games since 2000. From Westport, Marino is among the favorites in the slopestyle and big air events. Snowboarding begins on Feb. 10.
Hailing from Madison, the 22-year-old missed the Sochi Games with an injury. However she recovered to win the overall World Cup title in 2015 in freestyle skiing, and is considered a medal favorite in Pyeongchang. Most recently she finished fourth at the 2017 World Championships, and could land on the podium in aerials. First round qualifying starts on Feb. 9.
Among the more well-known snowboarders, Jacobellis is as decorated as they come. Making her fourth Olympic appearance (the debut year for snowboard cross), the Roxbury native took gold in last year’s world championships – her fifth – to go along with 10 X-Games golds, a pair of World Cup season championships and a silver medal at the 2006 Torino Games.
Another freestyle skier, Bohonnon is competing in his second Games in men’s aerials. A longshot, not only did the 22-year-old qualify for Sochi against many odds, he placed fifth. From Madison, Bohonnon has three World Cup victories to his name, including the 2015 aerials championship.
The only person on this list not representing Team USA, the former Yale Bulldog plays for Team Switzerland. Making her second Olympics appearance, she helped the Swiss take bronze in Sochi. A math and economics major at Yale, she was an All-ECAC Third-Team Selection in her time in New Haven.
Luge is the first event after the opening ceremonies, and the Ridgefield native West will be a part of that grouping. He was the silver medalist in the 2017 world championships in the mixed team, and in 2014 became the first American to win a singles World Cup event since 1997. he’s making his second Olympics appearance. As an added bonus, the person calling luge for NBC, Leigh Diffey, is also from Ridgefield.
Remember, the NHL isn’t sending players to the Games this year, so the teams are largely made-up of youngsters and ex-NHLers. The Bulldogs have a number of alums representing Team USA on the men’s side. You have Mark Arcobello, a Milford native and former Yale star, who is currently playing in Europe after spending parts of four seasons in the NHL. Joining him are former teammates Broc Little and Brian O’Neill. On the bench, current Yale coach Keith Allain is an assistant for the Americans for the third time. As an added Connecticut twist, he’ll coach alongside Scott Young, who spent parts of four seasons with the Whalers.
A Madison native, Donohue heads to South Korea as the 2018 U.S. national champion in ice dancing. He’ll team up with Madison Hubbell as part of Team USA’s most decorated ice dance team ever. Alongside those two are Maia and Alex Shibutani, who aren’t Connecticut natives, but actually got their start in figure skating in Greenwich. Ice dancing begins on Feb. 11.