Eyes on the prize: Burkies en route to the PyeongChang Olympics

These Burke alumni will be involved in or are vying for a hotly contended spot at the PyeongChang Winter Olympics held from February 9 to 25. From athletes to coaches and broadcasters, make sure to keep an eye out for them and cheer them on!

INSIDE THE FENCES…


KAI HORWITZ ‘17  (Santiago, Chile)
Chilean Alpine Athlete
I  competed at the Youth Olympic Games in 2016 but these would be my first Olympics. The fact that these would be my first Olympics makes it pretty unique. It will also be a unique experience given the host country with a new culture to discover which I’m eager for. My favorite discipline is giant slalom so I am looking forward to that day! I would love to make it into the top 30 but mostly I am looking forward to gaining more experience so one day, I can be fighting for an Olympic medal.

 

Nolan with Liz, Ida and Matt Whitcomb at the 2014 Olympics.

NOLAN KASPER ‘07 (Warren, VT)
US Alpine Athlete
My goal is to race in the slalom and team event. I should know around January 25 if I’ve made it into the top four Americans in the World Cup slalom standings to qualify. I’ve taken part in the 2010 and 2014 Olympics but these Games would be unique given the geopolitical tensions between the US and North Korea which should make this an interesting trip. I’m sure it’ll be pretty secure, more so than Sochi. I don’t have a specific goal at the moment as I’m mostly focused on coming back from four knee surgeries in the past two and a half years. My first race this November will mark 34 months since my last race.

 


TANIA PRYMAK ’10 (Goshen, NY)
US Ski Cross Athlete
I will know around January 22 if I’ve qualified for the Games based on selection criteria from World Cup performances during December and January. These would be my first games ever and I would become the first female to ever represent the United States in ski cross. My goal would be to live up to that honor and represent my country and teammates to the best of my ability. If I go, I also look forward to the culture of South Korea. It was very interesting and heartwarming during our test event there two winters ago and I expect that during the Games this will be even more evident.

 


HIG ROBERTS ‘10 (Steamboat Springs, CO)
US Alpine Athlete
I hope to compete in my first Games in the giant slalom and slalom. For me, the opening ceremony is every athlete’s dream! I hear the Alpine venues are on great hills and will be much different than what we are used to in Europe and North America. This could be very exciting. During the 2010 Olympics, I was still at Burke and my roommate went to watch the Games in Vancouver. I remember being very jealous and to make matters worse, I accidentally crashed his car on the icy roads of Vermont. I remember thinking: “how could I call him while he is at the Olympics with this news?” It ended up being fine and I got to hear about the Olympics from him as they were happening. Who could forget Bode doing his thing and winning three medals! Last year, I was at Burke for a few weeks and I hope to be back to do some Olympic prep and get on the new and improved training hill. There is no place like it! Best of luck to all the other Burkies hoping to go to the Olympics!

 

03.02.2017, Pyeong Chang, Korea (KOR):
Ida Sargent (USA) – FIS world cup cross-country, individual sprint, Pyeong Chang (KOR). www.nordicfocus.com. © Thibaut/NordicFocus.

IDA SARGENT ‘06 (Orleans, VT)
US Nordic Athlete
I need to be in the top 50 World Cup rankings by mid-January to qualify for the 2018 Games. I hope to take part in the classic sprint and team events. These would be my second Games after competing in 2014. In Sochi, we were isolated in the endurance village with just the biathletes and the XC skiers. We had to travel to Sochi to see the other events.  This time, the main Olympic village is close to the XC courses and I’m excited to meet and interact with the athletes from all the different sports and all the different countries. There hasn’t been a US Olympic medal in XC skiing since Bill Koch won silver in 1972. We are trying to change that this winter! Last year, we raced on the Olympic courses and I loved them! I had my first ever World Cup podiums there in the sprint and team sprint and now I’m very excited to represent TEAM USA and race there again! One of my fondest BMA Olympic moments is from the 2014 Olympics before the closing ceremonies when I watched the sunset over the Black Sea with Liz Steven, Matt Wittcomb, and Nolan Kasper. It was very special to be celebrating the end of the Olympics together very far from the NEK!

 

MIKAELA SHIFFRIN ‘13 (Vail, CO)
US Alpine Athlete
In 2014, I competed in the slalom and giant slalom. This time around, I am looking forward to racing in the slalom, giant slalom, combined and possibly the super-G. I will make my final decisions about the events I will compete in closer to the games, but if I do race in four events, it is because I think I have a realistic opportunity to contend for a medal in each.I think every Olympics is unique since they only come around once every four years. The Olympics are held on an even more global scale than our World Cup races, so it is also unique to travel to places like Russia or South Korea for competitions – places we don’t normally go to. There was a bunch of BMA alumni at the last Olympics in Sochi competing in different sports, Nolan Kasper and Liz Stephen among them, which was cool because it felt like we had a strong showing and we brought a bit of that community vibe with us.

 

Liz Stephen in women’s 4x5k relay at FIS Nordic World Ski Championships. (U.S. Ski Team – Tom Kelly)

LIZ STEVEN ‘05 (Montpelier, VT)
US Nordic Athlete
The Olympics represents a coming together of all people, countries, ethnicities, and beliefs under one common goal: fair play and unity. With our beliefs today becoming so polarizing, coming together to share a love of sport, teamwork, and competition is something that goes way beyond winning medals. The feeling of being a part of a greater community of athletes is a really unique and special thing, and to share it with the world is even more incredible.

I hope to be a member of the 2018 team and compete in all of the distance events with my eyes on the 10k skate and the 4x5k relay. These will be my third Games after participating in the 2010 and 2014 Olympics. I’m really excited about the 4x5k relay because we have a chance to win a medal in this event and if we all have our best day, I believe we will. These Games will be unique because they are in Asia, which I have only ever been to once. It was last year at the test event in South Korea. It was a really nice venue with lots of smiling officials who were eager to help with anything, so I am sure they will put on a great Games. As this will more than likely be my last Olympics, I want to really soak it in and support my team the best way I can.

 

SVEN VON APPEN ‘16 (Santiago, Chile)
Chilean Alpine Athlete
I’ll be competing in alpine skiing, hopefully in all the disciplines if everything goes well. That would include downhill, super-G, giant slalom, slalom and combined. This would be my first Olympic Games and I’m most excited about the super-G and giant slalom races because those are my two favorite disciplines and I think I can do better in those. These Games will mostly be about getting some experience for the future but it would be amazing if I could get in the top 30 in any events.

 

OUTSIDE THE FENCES…


JONG-MOON BYUN ‘94 (Seoul, Korea)
Alpine Sport Manager for the Organizing Committee
I participated in the 1998 and 2002 Olympics as an athlete. I am in charge of preparation and operation as a sport manager for the PyeongChang Games. These Games will be unique in that the Winter Olympic are in Asia after Nagano in 1998 and PyeongChang won the bid after a third try. These Winter Olympic will set new horizons for winter sport in Asia and over the world. As an organizer, we are at the final step of preparation for the best, convenient, and athlete-oriented venue and field of play. We are ready to host the world’s best athletes for their best achievements. I hope to see all the Burkies who will be participating at PyeongChang and let me know if you need anything.

 

SCOTT LYONS ‘85 (Denver, CO)
NBC Statistician
At the 2018 Games, I will act as a statistician for NBC Sports at the Alpine Skiing venue. These will be my third Games as I’ve also worked at the Sochi and Rio Olympics in the same capacity as a statistician. I worked full time for NBC Sports in Denver until August as a researcher/statistician including working as a researcher supporting Alpine skiing for five years. In South Korea, I’m really looking forward to the men’s and women’s giant slalom races. We will be broadcasting live for many of the Alpine races so it will be fun (and a little scary at the same time!). I will be in the booth with Dan Hicks and Bode Miller providing both statistical and general information. Alpine has something going almost every day at the Olympics so we are busy.

At the 2014 Games, I met a few of the Burke alumni on the Nordic Team when we went to watch one of their races. It was great that they took a few minutes to meet us and take pictures.

I left my full-time work at NBC in early August to join a telecom company. In my new job, I manage a team that supports phone number transfers from their existing network to the network that supports my current company. I graduated from Dartmouth in 1992 with a B.A. in History.

 


STEVE PORINO ‘84 (Bend, OR)
NBC Broadcaster and Journalist
At the 2018 Games, I’ll be broadcasting for NBC, quite possibly the highest post in all the Olympics, which is to say I’ll be reporting from the start of the alpine venues. As broadcaster and journalist, this will mark my 6th Winter Olympics and 7th overall. At these Games, I’m very interested to see how the alpine team event plays out on the last day. I find the relays in swimming and track to be edge-of-the-seat excitement that give me a heightened sense of flag pride. Alas, I’ll feign objectivity. Culturally, South Korea could not be less Alpine. I find different is always interesting.

My first Olympic experience was in Nagano, Japan. More than half my job consisted of getting from A to B, which all too often was not a straight line. The language barrier was just part of that equation. Some 20 years later, those remain my most indelible memories. I expect Korea will leave its mark in a similar fashion. For the first time in Olympic history, alpine skiing will be shown live in the US. Nothing makes one feel more alive than live.

I can’t say I make broadcasting goals, but one driving philosophy is to take the nuances of our sport, those decisive imperceptibles that matter, and spin them into a story that speaks to both the aficionado and the one-time voyeur… and do it in 30 seconds … and not screw it up!

Food for thought: My first Olympics were in 1998. Even with the endless delays due to snowfall, the alpine events were a raucous affair. Since the events of 9/11, much of that revelry has been pushed behind the fences. Fans today are relegated to the finish for security purposes. The venue is otherwise locked down. Apart from teams and work crews, it is empty. It makes the outdoor venues, particularly the speed events, an entirely unique experience. At the height of the competition, the start will be deathly silent. Think of football teams that practice with speakers thumping to prepare for the crowd noise in the upcoming Super Bowl. By contrast, these racers won’t have competed in a venue so still since, say, the start of Sugarloaf downhill. Really.

ALUMNI STUDENTS AND STAFF:
Send us your details if you have plans to be at the Olympics this winter so we can add you to the list! Contact: info@burkemtnacademy.org.