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00000179-c810-d4c2-a579-fdd2fe840003The 2018 Winter Olympics kick off Feb. 8 in Pyeongchang, South Korea, and over a dozen Olympians have ties to Vermont, with many more having trained or gone to school here.In fact, Vermont is tied for sixth among states sending the most Olympic athletes in Team USA this year (Colorado takes first, in case you were curious!)Meet The 2018 Vermont OlympiansTo help you keep track of local athletes as they compete in Pyeongchang, we've gathered their bios by team:Alpine Skiing | Biathlon | Bobsleigh & Luge | Cross-Country Skiing | Freestyle Skiing | Ice Hockey | Snowboard We'll be keeping track of the results every weekday morning on the Sports Report and on VPR's Facebook and Twitter accounts.Vermonter Mikaela Shiffrin at last year's Alpine Skiing World Championships. Her first event in Pyeongchang is scheduled for Monday, Feb. 12.

Wallis: Young Olympians

It’s such a joy to see the long list of Vermonters representing at the Olympic Games and fun to see the stories on so many athletes from Norwich. I grew up there with a generation of Olympic skiers and must be some sort of slacker.

Whats really stunning about this year’s class of Olympic contenders is how much stronger, faster and fine tuned they are. Of course this happens every four years and cant detract from glorious moments of the past. But advances in training, nutrition, technology, weights and the endless feedback loops of heart monitors and fitness devices has really raised the bar.

My favorite Olympic moment is Franz Klammer in 1976 careening through the downhill, right on the edge of crazy. I also love Alberto Tomba barreling along like a bull through a field of toothpicks in the slalom of1 988. Tomba was a premier technical skier, but seeing Mikaela Shiffrin ski is like watching someone carve through butter.

There are a lot of figure skating jumps, the Axel and Salchow are named after a Norwegian and Swede respectively. Its only in recent history that quadruple Salchows are the norm and now Mirae Nagasu of the US just landed an historic Triple Axel.

Bill Koch, from Vermont won his historic silver medal in Cross Country Skiing in the 30 kilometer event in 1976. He also popularized the skating technique that now allows cross country racers to fly along faster than ever. Part of the speed comes from pushing off with both poles at once and requires super upper body strength. Its exhausting to watch Sophie Caldwell of Vermont sprint.

Women’s Hockey was only added as an Olympic sport in 1998. Not long after that, Amanda Pelkey from Montpelier was facing off against my son and his friends in the early morning games of Vermont Youth Hockey. Back then, in those cold rinks, it was obvious that Amanda was a really good skater.

Finland was the opener for Team USA Women’s Hockey. The players were fast, strong and physical and -unusual for the women’s game- someone even threw a punch. But the most exciting part was seeing Pelkey’s number 37 out there on the ice, holding her own.

The Olympics are about stories, some are simple entertainment like the flashy pants of the Norwegian curling team or the bare chested Tongan in the opening ceremonies.

The heroic, athletic tales are those like Norwegian cross country skier Hegstad Krueger who crashed, got up, caught the field and won the 30 meter skiathlon.

I’m glued to the TV, waiting to watch the stories of our accomplished, amazing Vermonters unfold as they travel with blinding speed from the future to the past.

Tasha Wallis served in the administrations of Governors Howard Dean and Jim Douglas. Currently, she is Executive Director of the Lamoille County Planning Commission. She lives in Morrisville with her husband Kevin Goddard.
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