Dating back to 1928, when Bowdoin College graduate Geoffrey Mason won a gold medal in bobsledding, Maine has had a strong connection to the Winter Olympics.

Since 1948, Maine has been represented in each Winter Olympics by at least one athlete with ties to the Pine Tree State. Some of the names are legendary in the state’s sports heritage. They include Wendell “Chummy” Broomhall in cross-country skiing, Seth Wescott in snowboardcross, Bode Miller in Alpine skiing, the Parisien siblings – Julie, Rob and Anna – in Alpine skiing, and Eric Weinrich in hockey.

In all, over 50 U.S. Winter Olympians have either been born in Maine, attended high school or college in Maine or trained here.

This year, there are five who will compete at the Beijing Olympics, which begin this week: Clare Egan in biathlon, Sophia Laukli in cross-country skiing, Frankie Del Duca and Jimmy Reed in bobsled, and Emily Sweeney in luge. That’s the largest contingent since 2014, when 10 athletes with Maine connections made the U.S. team, including seven who trained at the former Maine Winter Sports Center.

Egan and Sweeney are competing in their second Olympics, having made the 2018 U.S. team that competed in PyeongChang, South Korea. The others are making their Olympic debuts, although Reed was an alternate selection in 2018.

In addition, there are five women’s hockey players with UMaine ties who are playing for three European countries.


Here’s a look at the 2022 Maine U.S. Winter Olympians:

From left, Frankie Del Duca, Daniel Roukey, Nate Meade and Jimmy Reed were members of the 2014 University of Maine 400-meter relay team, which still holds the second-fastest time in school history (41.70 seconds). Del Duca and Reed went on to try out for the U.S. bobsled team and will represent Team USA in the Beijing Olympics. Photo courtesy of Ben Reed


While attending Telstar High in Bethel, Frankie Del Duca played soccer and competed in Alpine skiing and track and field. That led to him running track at the University of Maine, where he and fellow U.S. bobsledder Jimmy Reed still rank second on the school’s all-time list in the 400-meter relay (and where Del Duca is still ranked in the top 10 in the long jump, 100 and 200).

Frankie Del Duca

As a kid, Del Duca also played baseball in the summer, loved mountain biking and dallied in car racing with the Cumberland Motor Club. “I was always trying to jump something or go fast,” he said.

Bobsledding? That was something that caught his attention every four years when he watched the Winter Olympics on television. Now, it’s his life.

“It has consumed me,” said the 30-year-old Del Duca, who moved to Maine from Florida when he was 10. “It is my everything, all my passions and interests in one package.”


Still, few could have predicted his rapid rise in bobsledding. At the urging of Reed, he joined Team USA as a push athlete in 2015 after a successful tryout. He didn’t begin driving, or piloting, the sled until four years ago. He didn’t even compete on the World Cup circuit this winter until the final two stops, instead competing in the North America Cup, where he medaled in all 16 events he raced, with seven firsts and six seconds.

On the World Cup, he had four top-15 finishes. Now he’ll be driving the two- and four-man bobsleds at the Beijing Olympics.

“I think I’m still processing that,” he said in a phone interview from Chula Vista, California, where the U.S. bobsled team was training. “You can say this has been a seven-year journey. But, in all actuality, pretty much everything I’ve done in life in some shape or form has contributed to this. Moving to Maine, competing in track, connecting with people who would also try out (for the bobsled team).

“It seems all my interests have led me to this. And I’m super grateful and excited. But I think it’s going to take awhile to process everything. As a driver, you want to stay as level-headed as possible. So I’m trying to stay focused and compete to the best of my ability. But I think it will hit me when I walk into that stadium.”

As the driver, Del Duca said he tries to manipulate the G-forces and pressure that is placed on the sled. “I’m pulling left or right to set the sled up in different turns to catch the pressure for as much speed as possible,” he said.

Del Duca is a member of the U.S. Army’s World Class Athlete program. He is stationed in Lake Placid, New York, where he lives with his wife, Haley. He said being part of the Army has been instrumental in his success. First, it provides him with the financial resources to train.


Second, he said, “I think the overreaching theme of working together as a team to achieve a common goal goes hand-in-hand with both the military and Team USA. There are a lot of things that have helped me get to where I am.”

The two-man bobsled heats will be held Feb. 14 (7:15 a.m. and noon, USA Network) and Feb. 15 (12:30 p.m., USA Network); the four-man bobsled heats will be held on Feb. 19 and 20 (8:30 p.m. both days, streamed on Peacock).

Cape Elizabeth native Clare Egan plans to retire in March shortly after her second appearance at the Winter Olympics. Darko Bandic/Associated Press


The United States has never won an Olympic medal in biathlon.

Clare Egan, a 34-year-old Cape Elizabeth native competing in her second Olympics, is a longshot to end that drought.

And yet, the crazy thing about the sport – in which competitors lug a .22-caliber rifle while skiing around a cross-country course and stopping periodically to shoot at small targets – is that realistically, she could.


At a World Cup event in Antholz, Italy, immediately prior to the Beijing Games, Egan felled 18 of 20 targets and grabbed fourth in a 15-kilometer race. One fewer missed target would have given her a bronze medal. Perfect shooting would have given her gold.

Her current world ranking is 38th. Teammates Susan Dunklee of Vermont and Deedra Irwin of Wisconsin are 78th and 88th. Along with Joanne Reid of Wisconsin, they placed fifth in a relay in Antholz, only 18 seconds from medaling in a race that covered 24 kilometers and took well over an hour to complete.

“This sport is insane,” Egan texted after her surprise finish, one day after speaking with the Press Herald about her decision to retire in March.

Dunklee, 35, is also retiring this spring and will be competing in her third Olympics. Reid competed in PyeongChang. Only Irwin is making her Olympic debut.

Unlike nearly all Olympic biathletes from Europe, Egan came late to the sport. She began Nordic skiing in eighth grade, but her best sport was track. She won individual state titles at 400 and 1,600 meters and in the 300 hurdles. She also did well in cross country running. Wellesley College had no ski program, so she started a club, and as a senior managed to qualify for the NCAA championships.

While earning a master’s degree at the University of New Hampshire in linguistics (she speaks six languages) in 2010-11, Egan continued to run and ski competitively. Only after college did she try biathlon, and despite her lack of experience nearly qualified for the 2014 Sochi Games.


For the past eight years, Egan has lived and trained in Lake Placid, New York, and has become a fixture on the World Cup circuit. Elected chair of the International Biathlon Union Athletes’ Committee, she advocated for rules that eliminated conflicts of interest and provided checks and balances for a sport in which corruption had festered.

Illness just before the 2018 PyeongChang Olympics resulted in a 10-day quarantine and dashed any aspirations of being competitive in South Korea. Until Antholz, this season had been subpar as well. Improved shooting had been offset by diminished ski speed.

“I thought I was training really smart, but I just haven’t been skiing that fast,” she said. “Hopefully that’ll turn up.”

In a departure from previous seasons, Egan took a break from the tour and came home for the holidays. She skipped one World Cup stop to train at altitude in Italy, then flourished upon her return. If her resurgence continues in China, history is within her scope.

Potential Olympic races for Egan are the mixed relay on Feb. 5 (noon, USA Network), 15K individual on Feb. 7 (9:40 a.m., USA Network), 7.5K sprint on Feb. 11 (11:30 a.m., USA Network), 10K pursuit on Feb. 13 (4 a.m., USA Network), 4x6K relay on Feb. 16 (11 a.m., USA Network) and the 12.5K mass start on Feb. 19 (4 a.m., USA Network). Some of the broadcasts will not be shown live.

Sophia Laukli, left, works out in December 2017 at Pineland Farms Nordic Center in New Gloucester while she was a senior at Yarmouth High. Four winters later, she is an Olympian. Derek Davis/Staff Photographer



Sophia Laukli watched the Winter Olympics in 2018 and reveled in the glorious come-from-behind sprint by Jessie Diggins that secured a historic gold medal for the United States in a two-woman relay with Kikkan Randall. It was just the second Olympic medal for the U.S. cross-country ski program, after Bill Koch’s silver in 1976.

Sophia Laukli

At the time, Laukli was a senior at Yarmouth High in the midst of an undefeated high school season … but it was high school. In Maine. Part of her thought she wanted to race in the Olympics one day. Mostly, however, “it was watching and being in awe,” she said.

Which makes her selection to Team USA alongside Diggins all the more strange and wonderful.

“It’s still very surreal,” Laukli said after officially joining the eight-woman U.S. cross-country contingent, “because it’s such a new concept to me that I’m actually doing this.”

Laukli, 21, is the youngest of three children. Her parents, Bjorn Laukli and Amy Ireland, were college Nordic teammates at the University of Colorado. He grew up in Norway and she in upstate New York.

Sophia started skiing early, shuffling along with her family or in physical education classes at the former Merriconeag (now Maine Coast) Waldorf School in Freeport. However, she said the sport didn’t hold much interest until high school, when she started racing.


As a sophomore, she placed third (classical) and fourth (freestyle) in the Class B state meet. After a year skiing and studying at a Swiss boarding school, she returned to Yarmouth and dominated the Maine ski scene. She went back to Europe for a gap year in Norway before enrolling at Middlebury College.

Her first college season ended with a runner-up 5K freestyle finish at the NCAA championships, which were cut short by the coronavirus pandemic. She made her World Cup debut in Finland last January and went on to place fifth in 10K freestyle at the U23 world championships.

That success earned her a spot at the world championships in Germany, where she opened eyes by finishing 25th in a 15K skiathlon (half classical, half freestyle). She got two more starts, took 23rd in a 10K freestyle and 28th in a 30K classical mass start.

The following week, she placed among the top 50 in two World Cup starts. Over the course of a month, an Olympic berth transformed from pipe dream to legitimate possibility.

“It was such a quick turnaround,” she said. “By the end of last season, it was definitely on my mind.”

Buoyed, Laukli transferred to the University of Utah, trained last summer in Alaska with “people who were way, way better” and continued in Salt Lake City in the fall. She got stronger, continued to improve and currently ranks 31st in the World Cup distance standings, fourth among U.S. skiers behind Diggins (seventh), Rosie Brennan (11th) and Hailey Swirbul (23rd).


The women’s cross-country races are the 15K skiathlon on Feb. 5 (2:45 a.m. EST), freestyle sprint on Feb. 8 (3 a.m.), 10K classical on Feb. 10 (2:25 a.m.), 4x5K relay on Feb. 12 (2:30 a.m.), classical team sprint on Feb. 16 (6 a.m.) and 30K freestyle mass start on Feb. 20 (1:30 a.m.). All will be shown live on the USA Network. Laukli is most likely to race the mass start on the final day of the Olympics.


When Jimmy Reed graduated from UMaine in 2014, holding school records in the indoor 55 meters and 60-meter hurdles and the outdoor 110 hurdles, he wasn’t ready to stop competing. One of Maine’s assistant coaches, Dave Cusano, suggested he try out for the U.S. bobsled team.

Jimmy Reed

So he did. And he made the team as a push athlete. Eight years later, he’s about to compete on the world’s largest stage in the sport.

“Initially, I wanted to do bobsled because I felt I didn’t reach my potential as an athlete at UMaine,” said Reed in a phone call from California. “I graduated and I felt I had more to give. I knew that more wasn’t in track and field. I wasn’t going to the next level, but I was not ready to stop competing. For much of my career, this has been a personal challenge to see what I’m capable of.”

That he’s going to be pushing for Frankie Del Duca makes it more special.


“We’ve been through it together seven years now and been great friends for 10 years,” he said. “And now we’re on the same sled in the Olympics. That is a pretty cool story.”

Reed, 30, was born in Bloomington, Indiana, but moved when he was four weeks old to Germany, where his father, a member of the U.S. Army, was stationed. He returned to the United States to attend fourth and fifth grade in Virginia while his father was stationed at the Pentagon.

While attending school in Germany, Reed played soccer, skied competitively and ran track. Going to UMaine was almost a given: his parents both graduated from there. In fact, his father, Ben, still holds a school record (50-yard high hurdles) and his mother, Dean, played on the school’s first softball team.

His parents now reside in South Thomaston. “Even though I haven’t lived there long, Maine is certainly where my family is from and what I consider home,” Reed said.

Reed served as an alternate on the U.S. bobsled team in the 2018 Winter Olympics in South Korea. He had been on track to be one of the push athletes, but suffered a severe hamstring injury leading up to the Games.

“It’s been a long and grueling journey,” he said. “COVID didn’t make it easier. But I wanted to stick it out and prove to myself that I could do it.”


Reed did not race in the final three World Cup events this year, which made him nervous that he wouldn’t make the team. When his name was called, he said, “I fell to my knees and broke down crying. It was such a relief.”

He then phoned his dad, who happened to be in Europe. “I’m not going to lie to you,” said Ben Reed. “There were tears of joy shared between the two of us. Not much was said for a while.”

Jimmy Reed said this will be his last Olympics.

“Certainly I did not think I’d be bobsledding for eight years,” he said. “To finish off my career going to the Olympics makes it all the more special. I’m pretty sure this is it. I’m 30, I’ve had two full quads (four-year cycles) as a push athlete and feel I need to join the real world and get a real job.”

The two-man bobsled heats will be held Feb. 14 (7:15 a.m. and noon, USA Network) and Feb. 15 (12:30 p.m., USA Network); the four-man bobsled heats will be Feb. 19 and 20 (8:30 p.m. both days, streamed on Peacock).

Maine native Emily Sweeney speeds down the track during her first run of a World Cup luge race in Sigulda, Latvia, on Jan. 9. Sweeney will be competing in her second Winter Olympics. Roman Koksarov/Associated Press



Sweeney, who will compete in her second Olympics as a member of the U.S. luge team, was born in Portland and lived in Falmouth until her family moved to Connecticut when she was 10.

Emily Sweeney

By then, her love of sports had already begun.

“I think I grew up with sports,” she said during a Zoom conference call. “My dad started the women’s hockey program in Falmouth, so I was at the rink a lot. We were always involved in sports. That started when we were in Maine. It really just gave me the love for sports I have. I love playing sports, I love sliding. I’m 28 and still doing it. I love competing.”

But how she ended up in luge is a story in itself. While her family was visiting relatives in upstate New York, someone pointed out an ad in the local paper. It was for a slider search. Emily and her older sister, Megan, both attended the event. And both made the U.S. luge team.

“That’s the whole thing,” said Sweeney. “That moment someone sees an ad in the newspaper can change your whole life.”

Sweeney, who is a military police officer assigned to the U.S. Army World Class Athlete program, has been a member of the U.S. luge team since 2009. In 2013, she was the world junior champion. She’s won one World Cup gold medal and five silvers.


She nearly made the 2010 Olympic team, but was beaten by Megan in a race-off for the final berth. She didn’t make the 2014 team but competed in South Korea in 2018. There, she suffered an horrific crash that resulted in broken bones in her neck and back and a severely sprained ankle.

Asked about that injury, Sweeney said she doesn’t think about it anymore.

“It’s in the back of my mind,” she said. “I talked a lot about it leading up to this season, then turned my brain off. It’s draining to go back there. Now I’m focused to just building momentum for the next shot.”

She said COVID has made this a difficult journey, especially as the Olympics have gotten closer. She said she keeps to herself, or her teammates, and wears a mask as much as possible.

“You see it everywhere, athletes, friends, everyone is testing positive now and that’s freaking me out,” she said. “It feels like such a big risk to just be existing in this world.”

She’s looking forward to simply getting on the sled and sliding down the track. “We do get little reprieves,” she said. “And that’s when we’re sliding.”

And she draws on lessons she received from her sister.

“There are luge things she passed off to me,” she said. “But Megan is the person I probably look up to the most. She just always empowers me to be the best person I can be.”

The first two runs of women’s luge will be held on Feb. 7 at 8 a.m. on USA Network, the final two runs on Feb. 8 at 7 a.m. on USA Network.

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