Road to Sochi: A Look Back On Athletes' Efforts To Make Team USA

Feb 18, 2014

New Castle native Alice McKennis worked this season to come back from an injury. After months of training, she pulled out of Olympic trials because she didn't feel ready.
New Castle native Alice McKennis worked this season to come back from an injury. After months of training, she pulled out of Olympic trials because she didn't feel ready.
Credit Roger Witney/USSA

This week marks the end of our Road to Sochi series. For 22 weeks, we’ve followed a dozen local athletes as they worked their way toward competing in the Winter Olympics. Most didn’t make it because of injuries and fierce competition. Still, four athletes are there, competing for Team USA. Today we take a look back at the twelve athletes and their quest for an Olympic chance.

NOAH HOFFMAN: "We train our biggest hours in the summer, so I’m just coming off of the training year and in the summer, I’ll train somewhere in the neighborhood of 27, 28, 29 hours a week."

SIMI HAMILTON: "This time of year we’re generally just preparing for our first races, which will come up in about three weeks."

MICHAEL WARD: "I've always been a really good endurance athlete, I love to run and bike. I just love the hurting feeling, I guess, when you're halfway through the race."

SIMI HAMILTON: (reporter: You made history by winning a Tour de Ski stage, right?) "Yeah, I think the only other American to win a Tour de Ski stage is Kikkan Randall. I was focusing so hard on not doing anything stupid in the last 10 seconds, so I didn't really have time for emotion to really set in."  

ALICE MCKENNIS: "I’m getting on my boots, putting on my back protector, which is pretty much standard anymore for any type of racing."

KATIE RYAN: "I’ve been clocked at 85 miles an hour. I can say with assurance I’ve gone faster than that. How you feel when you’re going that fast depends on how in control you feel. So, if I’m feeling in control, going 85/90 can feel just as fast as a 45 mile an hour slalom course."

WILEY MAPLE: "Right out of high school - I graduated in 2008 and was named to the development team and then just kind of worked my way up from there. My plan this year is to break into the top 30 at the World Cup level and make the Olympic team."

KATIE RYAN: "It’s amazing how many ski racers do go through a large variety of injuries, and it can be anything from shoulders, to concussions and knees are pretty common."

ALICE MCKENNIS: "I was in a downhill race in Garmisch, Germany and I basically got a little off balance and when I came down and crashed, I fractured my right tibia and shattered my right tibia plateau into 30 pieces. Today was the first time I ran the course from top to bottom, for the past week or so, I’ve been sectioning, so stopping halfway down and then starting again, so to run the course from top to bottom was kind of a big deal for me."

JORDIE KARLINSKI: "I started competing locally probably when I was about nine. My specialty is slopestyle. It’s a really creative course, every course you go to is different and that’s what’s so special about it. Unlike halfpipe, the course always changes."

GRETCHEN BLEILER: "It’s been so amazing. I’ve kind of grown up in snowboarding and I’ve learned along the way and I’ve become the person I am today because of snowboarding and because of the lessons I’ve learned on the mountain."

MEG OLENICK: "I grew up skiing here and two older brothers and just followed them around the mountain and when they started to do tricks, I didn’t want to be left out so I started doing them as well."

ALEX FERREIRA: "I started skiing when I was three years old and I went up through the ranks. Growing up in Aspen, my dad used to ski but doesn’t anymore. My mom loves skiing and she would just take me out."

TORIN YATER-WALLACE: "I think I was with my mom in a harness, but I probably started in the backyard on plastic skis."

TORIN YATER-WALLACE: (reporter: Congratulations on making the team. Are you excited?) "Yeah, I’m excited. It should be a pretty crazy experience, I’ve never done anything like it. The X Games is always our biggest gig of the season and now we have the Olympics, which is on a whole new level."

JEREMY ABBOTT: "My parents lived in the Valley for like 30-some years and uprooted their lives so I could train in Colorado Springs, and then, the financial stress because skating is not cheap. They really did whatever they could so I could follow this dream and I'm so grateful for that."

Noah Hoffman, Simi Hamilton and Michael Ward race in cross country skiing. Alice McKennis, Katie Ryan and Wiley Maple are alpine ski racers. Jordie Karlinski and Gretchen Beiler compete in snowboarding. Meg Olenick, Alex Ferreira and Torin Yater-Wallace are freeskiers. And, Jeremy Abbott is a figure skater. Hoffman, Hamilton, Yater-Wallace and Abbott made it to the 2014 Winter Olympics.