Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Gotta Love the Hometown Crowd

In case you can't tell already, I'm pretty much obsessed with the Olympics. It started off with all things summer--I like to say I perfected my swim strokes through the likes of Summer Sanders, Pablo Morales and Krisztina Egerszegi--with Barcelona in 1992, and only escalated from there. The winter obsession is a little newer--in part because my husband's even more tuned in than me--but still there. I won't bore you with the details.

Anyway, the point of all of this is to explain why no one should be surprised that I'd be one reading Olympics-focused websites, requesting to follow Games-specific peeps on Twitter and I hardly use the program, and becoming fans with athletes and the Olympics on Facebook. So my latest Games gotta-know-now info left me wondering more about the athletes and where they're from (no, I'm not stalking, really). More because I knew a few Olympians from the Windy City and some figure skaters who trained five minutes from where I grew up (1998 figure skating gold medalist Tara Lipinski being one of them). And also because I spent enough time on teamusa.org reading about the athletes. So without further ado, here's the local USA contingent we're cheering for...

Ben Agosto--Chicago. Partners with Tanith Belbin in the ice dancing competition.
Lisa Chesson--Plainfield, Ill. Will take to the ice with the women's hockey team.
Meryl Davis--She's not from Chicago but this half of a figure skating ice dance pair hails from West Bloomfield, Mich., five minutes from where I grew up.
Shani Davis--Chicago. He lives in Milwaukee now to be closer to training facilities, but this long track speed skater got his start on the ice at Robert Crown Ice Arena in Evanston, Ill.
Lana Gehring--Glenview, Ill. She'll be competing in short track speed skating and made the team in the 500m.
Brian Hansen--Glenview, Ill. He'll be at the Richmond Olympic Oval racing in long-track speed skating.
Jonathan Kuck--Champaign, Ill. This long-track speed skater hails from the same town as Bonnie Blair who won five medals competing on the long track.
Evan Lysacek--Naperville, Ill. He might live in California now to train with Frank Carroll, but this figure skating 2009 World Champion graduated high school at Neuqua Valley.
Jamie Moriarty--This football player turned bobsledder is either from Winnetka or Glencoe, depending on the list you look at.
Katherine Reutter--Champaign, Ill. Another speed skater from the land of Bonnie Blair, but Reutter competes on the short track. Random fact: Many Illinois speed skaters train in Wisconsin at the Pettit Ice Arena but Reutter used to shuttle between Champaign and St. Louis
before training in Salt Lake City.
Nancy Swider-Peltz, Jr.--Wheaton, Ill. She shares a name with her Olympian speed skating mom and now makes her Olympic debut in the same sport (long track).
Charlie White--He's Meryl Davis's skating partner and I had to include him as a shout out to my hometown before Chicago, Bloomfield Hills, Mich.

And for one more that doesn't really fit in, but got a nod in my book was luger Tony Benshoof from White Bear Lake, Minn., a hop, skip and a jump from where my husband grew up. There's lotsa hockey in Minnesota but the luge surprised me a bit. Why? I don't really have an answer for that one.

While this list makes it seem like I have a lot of time on my hands (not true as my husband can attest I'm up way past bedtime most nights) or I'm simply crazy for caring about who's from where (I might have to agree with that but it doesn't phase me), it keeps the Games interesting when you're watching for the locals. Maybe there's an athlete or two with a connection to your hometown? Find out here. Check out the athlete bios, too--some are pretty entertaining. And no, I have yet to read even a quarter of them. Photo grabbed from teamusa.org, by Matthew Stockman at Getty Images. Posted by Kate

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