Many with local, state ties competing in Olympics

By Doug Halberstadt
Sports Columnist

The state of Illinois, and even the city of Rockford, have a significant presence in Vancouver at this year’s Winter Olympics. Last Friday (Feb. 19) was proclaimed “Illinois 2010 Winter Olympics Athletes Day” by Gov. Pat Quinn (D) in honor of the athletes with Illinois ties who are representing our country at the games.

“I salute the athletes who will be representing our state and nation in the 2010 Winter Olympics,” said Quinn. “Their dedication and determination shows that the Olympic spirit is alive and well in Illinois, and I wish them the best of luck.”

Several athletes with ties to our area and Illinois are competing in the games:

Rockford native Jinelle Zaugg-Siergiej—U.S. Olympic Women’s hockey team

Former Plainfield Central High School Female Athlete of the Year Lisa Chesson—U.S. Olympic Women’s hockey team

Janesville, Wis., native Tucker Fredricks—Speedskating

Chicagoan Shani Davis—Speedskating

Brian Hansen of Glenview, Ill.—Speedskating

Katherine Reutter of Champaign, Ill.—Speedskating

Nancy Swider-Pelz Jr. of Wheaton, Ill.—Speedskating

2009 Glenbrook South High School graduate Lana Gehring—3,000-meter relay skating team

Naperville’s Evan Lysacek—Figure Skating

Chicago native Ben Agosto—Ice Dancing

Jamie Moriarty of Winnetka, Ill.—Bobsledder

University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign physics major and speedskater Jonathan Kuck will compete in the 10,000 meters and team pursuit races.

Lysacek became the first U.S. man to win the Olympic gold medal since Brian Boitano in 1988, upsetting defending champion Evgeni Plushenko last Thursday night (Feb. 18) in Vancouver.

Davis won the silver medal in the 1,500 meters and the gold medal in the 1,000 meters. Davis ended his 2010 Olympics with the same result he posted four years ago at the 2006 Torino (Italy) games—a gold in the 1,000 and a silver in the 1,500.

He is now setting his sights on the 2014 games in Russia. “I am sure it is going to keep me in the sport,” said the 27-year-old Chicago native, who in Italy became the first African-American athlete to win individual gold at the Winter Games. “It is not a bad thing—I love skating.”

This year’s Winter Olympic Games will come to a close during a closing ceremony this Sunday, Feb. 28. An interesting piece of trivia about the 2010 opening and closing ceremonies: they are the first in Olympic history to be held indoors.

Doug Halberstadt can be reached via e-mail at

From the Feb. 24-Mar. 2, 2010 issue

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