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ALASKANS CHEER ON LOCAL OLYMPIANS

Joy Mapaye,
KTUU-TV
Anchorage, AK
Feb. 12, 2006

Local OlympiansAnchorage, Alaska - All eyes were on Torino, Italy this weekend for the first full weekend of Olympic competition, and among those on the world stage include 11 Alaskans.

Sunday, friends, family and fans tried to cheer on the state's Winter Olympians. It is a record number of athletes from the state. Those watching the games say they're sending their support and are proud so many from the state are there to compete.

The Winter Olympic Games will see 2,500 athletes from 85 countries compete for gold, and within the U.S. team, 11 will also represent Alaska. Ski coach Erik Flora couldn't be more proud and more excited.

“I'd just like to wish them luck. We've been kind of watching and following and hoping that they have good performance and just really excited for them,” said Flora.

More so, Flora says, because his youngest brother Lars is also on the team.

“I've been sending e-mails back and forth with Lars,” said Flora.

Flora's not the only one keeping tabs on the team. In between the trips up the ski lift and down the hill, fifth-grader Jacob Williams is doing the same and watches coverage when he can.

"It's really good and fun to watch. I watch it a lot,” said Williams.

Inside that's exactly what they're doing. Tena Dancing and her daughter Ashlynn are cheering on Alaska's Olympians.

“It's pretty neat. It's neat. It's good to see a bunch of Alaskans,” said Dancing.

Even those at the ski school can't help but watch and maybe spot future Olympians.

“We have a lot of young little phenoms coming out and I hope they stick with it because we do have a lot of really good kids,” said Justin Crave, the assistant ski school director.

Hilltop Ski Resort’s mountain manger says it has been a busy day with the kids enjoying the snow, the slush and the warm weather. Kurt Bunde says in addition to his work here, he's also on the look out for Alaska's 11 on TV, especially Rosey Fletcher.

“It's been a pretty interesting Olympic experience so far, trying to get glimpses of her at the opening ceremonies and catching the few events that have happened so far,” said Bunde.

For Bunde, there's more reason to watch. He and Fletcher were engaged on Jan. 31. He says he'll join her in Torino to watch her compete in person.

“She's done really well and this being her third and final Olympics, it's really something special,” said Bunde.

It’s special too for Alaskans who have more than one shot at gold.

Bunde says he will leave for Torino this Wednesday. His first stop is Munich and will then drive to Torino. He, along with Fletcher's parents, will watch her compete on the Feb. 23.

Here is a list of the 11 Alaskan Olympians:

  • Rachel Steer, Anchorage, biathlon
  • Jay Hakkinen, Kasilof, biathlon
  • Jeremy Teela, Anchorage, biathlon
  • Jessica Schultz, Anchorage, curling
  • Scott Gomez, Anchorage, men’s hockey
  • Pam Dreyer, Eagle River, women’s hockey
  • Alan Alborn, Anchorage, ski jumping
  • Rosey Fletcher, Girdwood, snowboarding
  • Lars Flora, Anchorage, cross-country skiing
  • James Southam, Anchorage, cross-country skiing
  • Kikkan Randall, Anchorage, cross-country skiing

  • Original Article - www.ktuu.com

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