Some 2500 Winter Olympians are competing over the next two weeks, among them 25 New Englanders who grew up amidst the same snow covered mountains as the rest of us. Each athlete arrives with a unique story, no athlete, no matter how extraordinary his and her skill, will have gotten this far without the extraordinary support of family, friends, and most often, an entire community.
New England’s largest and most sparsely populated county, Aroostook County, Maine, is following a local hero: Russell Currier. His sport is biathlon, hugely popular in Europe, all but ignored here in America. A public supper hosted by his former high school in Caribou, Maine raised nearly $6000 to defray expenses for his parents to watch their son in his quest. Currier trained and reached world class skill at the pride of Aroostook: the Winter Sports Center. A crowd in downtown Caribou watched him compete Saturday, and no doubt Aroostook will again be glued to their TVs when he races this Thursday in the 20 km biathlon.
Few of the athletes reach the fame of Franconia, New Hampshire’s Bode Miller, whose individualism has attracted supporters and detractors, from one Olympiad to another.
Bode Miller and Maine local hero Seth Wescott, both trained at Maine’s Sugarloaf Mountain while at the famed Carrabassett Valley Academy.
As soon as these winter games end, these New England athletes, and who knows how many other potential champions who right now are perfecting their skills on skates, snowboards, skis, hockey rinks, ski jumps, luge runs, start again, their sights set on Korea, 2018.