May 26, 2013

Maine's connections to the Olympics

By Mike Lowe mlowe@pressherald.com
Staff Writer

SETH WESCOTT  

Event: Snowboardcross

Age: 36

Maine connection: Born in North Carolina, Wescott and his family moved to Farmington before he entered the fifth grade. Now lives in Carrabassett Valley.

Previous Olympics: Won gold medal in Turin (2006) and Vancouver (2010).

Right now: Wescott is recovering from surgery after he tore the ACL in his left knee last month. He returned to Maine to continue his rehab and expects a full recovery in time for qualifying events, which begin in December. “You’ve got to be positive about it and I am,’’ he said. “It’s going to make it more interesting and a little harder, but I have the time to do it.’’

Olympic prospects: Four snowboardcross racers will go to Sochi. Wescott finished the 2012-13 World Cup season ranked 11th in the world and third among Americans despite missing several events. If healthy, he should qualify.

JULIA CLUKEY

Event: Luge

Age: 28

Maine connection: Raised in Augusta, attended Cony High. Lives in Augusta .

Previous Olympics: Finished 17th at Vancouver (2010).

Right now: Training at home to prepare for qualifying. Coming off her best season, she ranked sixth in the world and had two second-place finishes on the World Cup tour. “I think about (Sochi) a lot, every day,’’ she said. “It’s hard not to. It’s in my training journal. I’m the type of athlete that can’t stand regret, or not knowing that I haven’t done everything possible. So every workout is about what it can do for me.’’

Olympic prospects: Three women will qualify for the U.S. Olympic team. Clukey, based on her experience and results, should be one of them.

JEREMY COTA

Event: Moguls

Age: 24

Maine connection: Raised in Greenville, attended Carrabassett Valley Academy

Previous Olympics: None

Right now: Training at Lake Placid. Coming off a heel injury that shortened his season. “I’m just trying to get healthy,’’ said Cota. “It was a nagging injury and it’s hard to stay off your heel as a skier.’’ If healthy, he’s ready to compete for a spot. “I know you have to ski well. If I can ski the way I’m capable of, I feel I can earn one of the spots.’’

Olympic prospects: There are 26 freestyle slots allotted to the American team. If Cota can regain the form that saw him ranked third in the world after the 2012 season before his injury, he can compete for one of those spots.

RUSSELL CURRIER

Event: Biathlon

Age: 25

Maine connection: Raised in Stockholm, attended Caribou High School

Previous Olympics: None

Right now: He’s training in Lake Placid, concentrating on his fitness and his shooting, which he feels he needs to improve. “The circuit is so competitive that being fast is not enough anymore,’’ he said. “You’ve got to ski fast, shoot fast and shoot very well. I need to become a little more refined.’’

Olympic prospects: Five U.S. biathletes will go to Sochi and two have already qualified – Tim Burke and Lowell Bailey – leaving three spots. Currier was ranked fourth among U.S. biathletes last year. He has a strong chance to go to Sochi.

DAVID DiGRAVIO

Event: Moguls

Age: 26

Maine connection: Born in Weymouth, Mass., but raised in Farmington. Attended Carrabassett Valley Academy

Previous Olympics: None

Right now: DiGravio is in Park City, Utah, recovering from a knee injury (ACL tear) that sidelined him for the second half of the World Cup season. He isn’t expected back on the snow until November. “We’re going to see how things shake out with my summer training,’’ said DiGravio. “There’s a lot of time between now and then.’’

Olympic prospects: It all depends on how his recovery goes. DiGravio has shown he has the talent to compete at the upper levels, but he has to be healthy to earn a spot. It won’t be easy. And he’s already considering going to college full time in Utah.

SIMON DUMONT

Event: Half-pipe

Age: 26

Maine connection: Born in Bethel, attended Telstar Regional High.

Previous Olympics: None

Right now: Skiing and training on the West Coast as he prepares for Olympic qualifying. Twenty-six freestyle skiers will go to Sochi, regardless of discipline. “I want to get my tricks down in my head so that when it comes time for the Olympic opportunity, I’ll be mentally prepared and they’ll (become second nature). I know I have the skill. I know what I have to do.’’

Olympic prospects: Dumont is regarded as one of the best freestyle skiers in the world. He’s won 10 medals at the X Games, including two golds. Had an injury-filled 2011-12 season, when he suffered an ACL tear and then broke both wrists. Returned in 2012-13 and was ranked 21st in the world. Definitely a contender for Sochi.

TROY MURPHY

Event: Moguls

Age: 20

Maine connection: Raised in Bethel, attended Gould Academy

Previous Olympics: None

Right now: In Park City, Utah, beginning his summer training. He knows what he has to do to earn a spot. “In a sport like skiing, your improvement has to happen in the summer,’’ he said. “In winter, you’re just moving from competition to competition. Any major changes to your techniques or jumps has to happen in the summer. Sochi is definitely in the back of my mind. But in order to get there I have to perform well and I can’t worry about that now.’’

Olympic prospects: He’ll be an underdog, simply because of inexperience. He has competed in three World Cup events in each of the last two years, so he knows the competition. He’ll have to perform well in the U.S. Selections, then get on the podium in a World Cup event. He finished fourth at the national championships last year.

EMILY SWEENEY

Event: Luge

Age: 20

Maine connection: Born in Portland, lived in Falmouth. Moved to Connecticut with family 10 years ago.

Previous Olympics: None

Right now: Training in Lake Placid, N.Y., at the U.S. Luge training center. “Right now I’m thinking about what I can do to be the best I can be,’’ said Sweeney, who was the last person cut from the 2010 Olympic luge team. “It’s about getting stronger and a faster start. Being one of the younger athletes on the team, I’m kind of lacking in the strength area. So I’m trying to catch up.’’

Olympic prospects: Sweeney won the Junior World Championships this year. She also placed ninth in a World Cup event at Lake Placid. Capable of earning one of the three spots.

ALEX TUTTLE

Event: Snowboardcross

Age: 22

Maine connection: Raised in Stratton. Attended Carrabassett Valley Academy.

Previous Olympics: None

Right now: Fully recovered from a knee injury that ended his season two years ago, he had a strong finish this winter, taking third in the U.S. Nationals. Currently working out with Wescott to prepare for Olympic qualifying. “I think I’m taking all the right steps,’’ he said. “I’m getting ready as soon as I can and I’m going to push as hard as I can for as long as I can.’’

Olympic prospects: Tuttle was ranked 29th in the world last year, but he missed many early events. He’s capable of earning one of the four snowboardcross slots for Sochi.

Mike Lowe can be contacted at 791-6422 or at:
mlowe@pressherald.com
Twitter: MikeLowePPH

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