Here are some Bay Staters who could be repping the red, white and blue on the podium this month.
34, Aerial Skiing, Belmont
On when she learned how to ski: I grew up skiing at Sugarloaf in Maine, but I took my first turns at Nashoba. I remember learning to ski there, actually. It was a long time ago. But really my training started there —if you can consider it training when you’re 4. But I started skiing and doing gymnastics when I was 4.
On her return from an injury that forced her to miss the 2002 Winter Olympics: I certainly, during three years of rehab, did not wake up every morning really excited to go to physical therapy, to learn to walk again, to get my strength back and learn to ski again, and to learn to jump again. … I remember my first jump back, when I realized I was healthy. It was a year before the Olympics in Torino. All my teammates kind of lined the pool and waited for it to happen. My coaches were there. I did this one little straight, upright jump. I didn’t even flip. I landed and everyone cheered. It was just so long in coming.
On whether making the Olympics for a fourth time feels the same as the first time: It’s sort of different. I’m incredibly excited to go to Sochi, but it’s more of a matter of continuing training and continuing to do all the things that are going to have me prepared to perform well there. When I qualified for Salt Lake, it was beyond-words exciting. I was jumping around, and it was kind of a different kind of celebration this time around. This time around, I’ve done all the work, and I expected to be there.
On the prospect that this will be her final appearance in the Olympics: This will definitely be my last Olympics. I’m not sure when in the next couple of months to a year that I’ll retire. I’m not sure what events I’ll do after the Olympics, but you will not see me at another Olympics.
30, Bobsled, Melrose
On his first time bobsledding: My first trip in a bobsled was in October of 2007 in Lake Placid, NY. I vividly remember being convinced after a few turns that the sled I was in was broken. I couldn’t believe that the sport I had grown up watching during the Olympics was that loud, jarring and fast.
On how running track at Northeastern prepared him for bobsledding: Seeing that foot speed is a very important aspect of pushing a bobsled, I would say that track prepared me well for pushing sleds. For bobsled, you also have to have an extremely strong and powerful lower body, because you need such strength and speed to push a sled that heavy fast.
On training alongside his younger brother Chris: It’s been a wonderful opportunity for both of us. Given the six-year difference in age between us, this has been the first chance we’ve had to share not only teammates, but goals and friends. He’s an extremely talented athlete and has been quite an asset to our program. I’m very proud of all he’s accomplished.
On when he started thinking about the 2014 Olympics: Immediately following our crash in Vancouver in the 2010 Olympics, I made the decision to dedicate the next four years to becoming the best in the world.
26, Hockey, Danvers
On training in Bedford this year: I went away to boarding school for high school. I flew halfway across the country to the University of Wisconsin in Madison for college. And last Olympic year, we lived out in Minneapolis. It’s been nice this time around. My parents haven’t gotten to see me play as much as they might have wanted to my entire career, so it’s great that they catch even some of the games against the boys’ teams that are local.
On memories from ’98, the last time the U.S. won gold: I got a chance to meet Gretchen Ulion, who was local. She came and spoke to a group that I was with, and I got to meet her after, put her jersey on, hold her gold medal, and it kind of fueled my fire. I always wanted to play hockey, but as soon as I knew it was in the Olympics for women, I knew that was something I wanted to do.
On playing against guys growing up: Obviously, they’re allowed to hit each other, so sometimes when I get called for a body-checking penalty, I miss that side of the guys’ games.
On what winning the gold in 2014 would be like, after winning a silver medal in 2010: I can’t even imagine. I just got goose bumps thinking about it. It’d be an incredible feeling, and it’s definitely attainable for us. We just need to stay on the right track. We’re fine-tuning a few things. We’re excited. It’s in the cards for us.
26, Figure Skating Pairs, Sudbury
On how he got into figure skating: I was 6 years old, and my parents took me to skating lessons. I think my parents had a big influence on why I started skating. It’s because of my Russian heritage; that’s just like a national pastime there. I watched skating a little bit on TV, and the skaters on TV always got me excited too. Scott Hamilton always pops up in my mind. I always remember watching him and enjoying him.
On what he thought when he tried out with partner Marissa Castelli in 2006: It was nice because she already knew how to do pairs. I remember her being really small. She’s still really small. And I haven’t really grown that much in height. I just remember thinking, “If this works out, it’ll be cool because I can really throw her around.”
On relying so much on just one other person: For us, making mistakes, technical mistakes, that happens. We’ve been together long enough to know that we can’t blame each other. If Marissa falls on a jump, I’m not going to say it’s your fault and go running away. That’s not how it works — at least not if you want to be successful. I think the hardest part is learning how to react to one another when you’re in a certain kind of mood.… I mean, it’s like a marriage without the romantic part.
On winning the nationals in his home state and then going to the Olympics in his birthplace: It’s extra special. I was born in Russia, and I have a little bit of family left there, but I grew up here and I’m 100 percent proud to represent the U.S. and skate for the American team. This is my home, and I’ve lived here my entire life. But there is still a connection there, and the fact that I still speak the language is nice. Everything that’s coming together is really, really special.