Originally published on Fri January 31, 2014 7:59 am
Jessica Lutz is on her way from making arty designs in coffee cups to carving Olympic ice in Sochi. And although she grew up in the U.S., Lutz will compete for the Swiss hockey team. Her story is an example of the sacrifices and strategies many athletes rely on to get to the games.
For most of the past year, Lutz, 24, crafted latte art as a barista in Washington, D.C. Born and raised in the D.C. suburb of Rockville, Md.,Lutz had a chance to compete for Switzerland because of her father's nationality (she's a dual citizen).
In Sochi, Russia, Hubertus Von Hohenlohe will compete in his sixth Winter Olympics. The 55-year-old downhill skier and German prince won't be skiing under the flag of his royal heritage, however. He'll be with the team of his birthplace, Mexico.
In honor of his Querido Mexico (beloved homeland), Hohenlohe says he will race down the Russian slopes decked out in a state-of-the-art mariachi ski suit.
Freestyle aerial skier Mac Bohonnon recently finished second at the Val St. Come World Cup in Quebec, and that helped him qualify for the Olympics in Sochi. But when he's not doing triple-twisting double backflips, he's taking Advanced Placement classes at Team Academy in Park City, Utah.
On a frigid afternoon, Jack Burke is coaching young skiers in a field in Saranac Lake, N.Y. His son Tim — who shoots and skis as part of the U.S. biathlon team — got his start training here. Now, Tim is off to Sochi to compete, but Jack and his whole family are staying home, missing the games for the first time since Tim's first Olympics in 2006.
"The uncertainty certainly did weigh into it," says Jack. "The cost was substantial, and costs seemed to be changing weekly."
Originally published on Tue January 28, 2014 10:26 pm
East Timor, a small Pacific nation, will be represented at the Winter Olympics for the first time in history next month, when skier Yohan Goutt Goncalves, whose father is French and whose mother is Timorese, competes in the slalom ski race.
But before he could be sent to Sochi, Goncalves, 19, first had to take the unusual step of creating his country's national skiing federation, as Agence France-Presse reports.
It's single-digit cold as Brett West steps into the snow in his backyard in Ridgefield, Conn., and points to a wooden monstrosity. It stands 32 feet high and looks kind of like a wooden roller coaster.
"The whole thing's made of wood — two-by-fours, four-by-fours and 3-quarter-inch plywood, all pressure-treated lumber, with a lot of screws."
The homemade track was the first training ground for his son, Tucker, an 18-year-old who is the youngest member of the U.S. luge team in Sochi.
Originally published on Fri January 24, 2014 12:25 pm
Today marks the start of The Edge, a blog hosting NPR's coverage of the Sochi Winter Games. The Edge is about the journeys Olympic athletes take to get better. From skaters to skiers, no two journeys are alike. But they all end at the same place: in competition. And many of them are fascinating.
As we've prepared for the games that begin Feb. 6 — in just two weeks — NPR has been following many stories of athletes and equipment, of money and security.
Originally published on Fri January 24, 2014 12:42 pm
We're not exactly fashionistas here at The Two-Way, but even with our skewed sense of style, we're not sure what to make of the Ralph Lauren-designed uniforms to be worn by the U.S. Olympic team at the opening ceremony in Sochi on Feb. 7.
As one of our colleagues said, the uniform "looks like something your grandmother would knit you for Christmas." CBS Sports made a similar observation: "It's almost like an ugly Christmas sweater vest mixed with some yoga pants."
Tracy Barnes just secured a spot on the U.S. Olympic team heading to Sochi — but almost immediately, she decided to give it up.
She surrendered her spot to her twin, Lanny. The 31-year-old sisters compete in biathlon, the sport that combines cross-country skiing and shooting. Both competed in the 2006 Winter Olympics, and Lanny competed in 2010 as well.
Lanny fell ill during selection races in Italy this past weekend, and she finished sixth, dashing her hopes of qualifying. Only the top five make the Olympic team; Tracy qualified at fifth place.