Eleven athletes from Washington going to Olympics

  • By CRAIG HILL The News Tribune
  • Thursday, January 28, 2010 9:00am
  • SportsSports

TACOMA — Team Washington appears to be set for next month’s Winter Olympics in Vancouver, B.C., after adding two new members Tuesday afternoon.

Spokane’s Will Brandenburg earned a surprise appointment to the U.S. alpine ski team, and Seattle native Holly Brooks was added to the cross-country skiing team when it learned it could expand its women’s roster from four to five.

Injury-riddled Scott Macartney of Crystal Mountain was left off the alpine team. Snowboarder Vic Wild of White Salmon also narrowly missed the cut for the Olympics when the team was named Monday night.

Brandenburg’s and Brooks’ selections give Washington 11 athletes heading to the games.

Brandenburg, 23, was born in Walla Walla, attended Mead High School north of Spokane and was on the U.S. “B” team this year after injuring his knee last season.

Brandenburg started his first World Cup race in 2008 after a stellar ‘07 season that included a silver medal in the giant slalom at the U.S. Championships and being named the Alpine Junior of the Year. He also won a NorAm giant slalom and three International Ski Federation (FIS) “B” races in ‘07.

On his blog, Brandenburg wrote that he has dreamed of competing in the Vancouver Games ever since he was a sophomore in high school.

“I had always dreamed of being on the U.S. Ski Team and racing the World Cup tour, but for some reason when I saw that the Olympics were going to be so close to home it gave me a clear image of what I was chasing,” Brandenburg wrote on Nov. 25.

He wrote that he skipped three football games his senior year and spent summers at Mount Hood when he wanted to be home all in pursuit of his dream.

But even Brandenburg seemed to be setting up himself and his friends for the fact that making the team was a long shot.

“My dad has always told me to enjoy the journey,” he wrote.

According to the FIS Web site, Brandenburg has not scored any World Cup points this season. Skiers score points with a top 30 finish. He is the only member of the U.S. team without points and Macartney is the only U.S. skier with points (8 points and a 126th ranking) who didn’t make the team.

In the most recent U.S. Ski and Snowboard Association rankings, Brandenburg is eighth in the downhill and super G, and fifth in the super combined and slalom.

Brooks, 27, grew up in Seattle but now lives in Anchorage, where she coaches for Alaska Pacific University.

Brooks, who won four races this season, vaulted up the USSA rankings from 16th in mid-December to her current fifth-place spot.

“She’s not just saying, ‘Hey, consider me for the Olympic team,”’ U.S. Nordic program director John Farra told The News Tribune in December. “She’s banging on the door making it clear she is one to reckon with.”

Washington’s athletes could prove to be the best batch since the legendary 1984 group that won three gold medals and two silvers.

Short-track speed skaters Apolo Ohno and J.R. Celski of Federal Way both have the potential to win multiple medals. Five-time medalist Ohno needs one medal to tie the U.S. Winter Olympics record held by speed skater Bonnie Blair. Ohno is already tied with speed skater Eric Heiden for the most winter medals by a U.S. male.

Moguls skier Patrick Deneen of Cle Elum is the reigning world champion.

Blaine resident Karen Thatcher is a defender on a women’s hockey team heavily favored to meet Canada in the gold medal match.

Bree Schaaf of Bremerton drives the world’s ninth-ranked bobsled.

Curler Nicole Joraanstad, a 1999 Kentridge High graduate, is a member of the most decorated women’s team in Olympic history. Her team has won all four national championships since it was formed after the 2006 Olympics.

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