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A Gopher Fan’s Guide to the 2018 Winter Olympics

10 alums and one current Gopher will compete in PyeongChang

Olympics: Women's Ice Hockey Training Rob Schumacher-USA TODAY Sports

As the 2018 Winter Olympics will begin this weekend in PyeongChang, South Korea several Minnesota Golden Gophers alums and one current student will be competing in the games and trying to bring the gold back to Minnesota. As is typical for the winter olympics, most of the Gopher Olympians once skated on the ice at Mariucci and Ridder Arenas. But, the Gophers can also lay claim to a few other olympians who were not former hockey players. We preview the Gophers and how you can follow them below:

Akuoma Omeoga—Bobsled—Nigeria

Akuoma Omeoga is a brakewoman on the Nigeria Bobsled team. This is the first ever team from Africa to compete in bobsled in the Olympics. The team is getting a lot of press and is being compared to the Jamaican Bobsled Team that was depicted in the movie Cool Runnings.

Omeoga is a Minnesota native born to two Nigerian immigrants. She graduated from Irondale High School and then ran track for the Gophers qualifying for the NCAA meet in the 100 meters in 2014.

Omegona was recruited to bobsled by the Nigeria bobsled driver, Seun Adigun. Their quest has gained international attention and the three members of the team even made an appearance on Ellen in January.

This team will get plenty of media attention and their runs will for sure be shown on TV, but should not come close to competing for a medal. The women’s bobsled competition begins with training runs taking place Saturday through Monday February 17th-19th before the competition officially begins with the first two heats begin Tuesday the 20th at 5:50 AM CST and the final two heats take place at 5:40 AM CST Wednesday the 21st.

Tabitha Peterson—Curling—USA

  • Tabitha Peterson is the Vice Skip of the US Women’s Curing Team. The Burnsville native graduated from the U of M College of Pharmacy in 2015 and works as a pharmacist when she is not curling internationally. While this is Peterson’s first Olympics, she had had a ton of international curling experience as she her team competed at the World Women’s Championship in 2012, 2014 ,2016, and peaked with a 5th place finish in 2017. Peterson’s best curing performance came when she won a bronze medal in the 2016 16 World Mixed Doubles Championship.
  • The Women’s team is not expected to medal, but could surprise and compete for a podium spot.

Peterson and the US Women’s Curing Team’s schedule is below:

Tuesday Feb 13—11:05 PM vs Japan

Wednesday Feb 14—6:05 PM vs Great Britain

Thursday Feb 15—5:05 AM vs Switzerland

Friday Feb 16—6:05 PM vs Olympic Athletes From Russia

Saturday Feb 17—5:05 AM vs Canada

Sunday Feb 18—6:05 PM vs Denmark

Monday Feb 19—5:05 AM vs China

Monday Feb 19—1:05 PM vs Korea

Wednesday Feb 21—5:05 AM vs Sweden

Thursday Feb 22—6:05 PM Tie-Breaker Games

Friday Feb 23—5:05 AM Semifinals

Saturday Feb 24—5:05 AM, Bronze Medal Game

Sunday Feb 25—6:05 PM Gold Medal Game

Ryan Stoa—Men’s Hockey—USA

Former Gopher Ryan Stoa was named to the US Men’s Olympic Hockey Team. He keeps together streak of at least one Gopher representative—either player or staff member to every Winter Olympics since 1936.

Stoa is a Bloomington native and played in 120 career games for Minnesota between 2005 and 2009 scoring 97 career points, 46 of which came in a season he was named a First Team All-American in 2008-09. Stoa currently plays for Spartak Moskva in the KHL.

The US Men’s Hockey team is not expected to compete for a medal this year after the NHL decided not to allow its players to compete in the Olympic Games this year. The team is made up of players on AHL contracts, and players playing internationally in Europe and in the KHL in Russia.

The US Men’s Hockey Schedule is below:

Wednesday Feb 14—6:10 AM vs Slovenia

Thursday Feb 15—9:10 PM vs Slovakia

Saturday Feb 17—6:10 AM vs Olympic Athletes From Russia

Tuesday Feb 20—TBD—Play-In Games

Wednesday Feb 21—TBD—Quarterfinals

Friday Feb 23—TBD—Semifinals

Saturday Feb 24—6:10 AM Bronze Medal Game

Saturday Feb 24—10:10 PM Gold Medal Game

Mira Jalouso—Women’s Hockey—Finland

Noora Raty—Women’s Hockey—Finland

Former Gopher stars Mira Jalouso and Noora Raty will suit up once again for Team Finland at the Olympics. This will be Raty’s fourth Olympics in the blue and white, and Jalouso’s second after joing Raty in 2014 in Sochi. Both players were stars for the Gophers during their first run of back to back NCAA Championships in 2012 and 2013, Jalouso on defense and Raty in goal.

The Finnish team is expected to compete for the Bronze medal behind the US and Canada, but could step in if one of the top two favorites would falter. The Finnish Schedule is below:

Sunday Feb 11—1:40 AM vs USA

Tuesday Feb 13—1:40 AM vs Canada

Thursday Feb 15— 1:40 AM vs Olympic Athletes From Russia

Friday Feb 16—9:10 PM—Quarterfinals

Saturday Feb 17—1:40 AM—Quarterfinals

Sunday Feb 18—9:10 PM—Semifinals

Monday Feb 19—6:10 AM—Semifinals

Wednesday Feb 21—1:40 AM Bronze Medal Game

Wednesday Feb 21—10:10 PM Gold Medal Game

Hannah Brandt—Women’s Hockey—USA

Dani Camanaresi—Women’s Hockey—USA

Amanda Kessel—Women’s Hockey—USA

Gigi Marvin—Women’s Hockey—USA

Kelly Pannek—Women’s Hockey—USA

Lee Stecklein—Women’s Hockey—USA

These five Gopher alums, and one current Gopher senior will be competing with the US Women’s Hockey team to see if they can finally be the ones to get over the hump and defeat Canada to win the Gold Medal at a Winter Olympics for the first time since 1998. It will be the third Olympics for Marvin, the second for both Stecklein and Kessel, and the first games from Brandt, Camaranesi, and Pannek. Pannek still has one year of eligibility remaining and will return for her senior season with the Gophers next fall.

These six women have been associated with the Golden age of Gopher Women’s Hockey as only Marvin was not apart of a NCAA Championship team at the U. Now, they will all try and be golden once more.

The US and Canada will be expected to face off for the Gold Medal. While the US has won the last four World Championships, they have not defeated Canada for the Gold in the Olympic Games since the inaugural tournament in 1998. The Canadians have won four straight golds since then, and may be a slight favorite once again.

The US Women’s Hockey Team Schedule is below:

Sunday Feb 11—1:40 AM vs Finland

Tuesday Feb 13— 6:10 AM vs Olympic Athletes From Russia

Wednesday Feb 14—9:10 PM vs Canada

Friday Feb 16—9:10 PM—Quarterfinals

Saturday Feb 17—1:40 AM—Quarterfinals

Sunday Feb 18—9:10 PM—Semifinals

Monday Feb 19—6:10 AM—Semifinals

Wednesday Feb 21—1:40 AM Bronze Medal Game

Wednesday Feb 21—10:10 PM Gold Medal Game

Robb Stauber—Head Coach— Women’s Hockey—USA

Brett Strot—Assistant Coach—Women’s Hockey—USA

Brent Proulx—Equipment Manager—Women’s Hockey—USA

Robb Stauber will be the head coach of the US Women’s Hockey Team in PyeongChang. He led the US to the World Championship Gold Medal in 2017 over Canada. Stauber is a former goalie for the Gopher Men’s Team and is a Hobey Baker Award Winner.

Strot will be an assistant on Stauber’s staff. He was an assistant on the World Championship winning squad as well. Stroyt was Stauber’s teammate with the Gophers in the late 1980s.

Proulx will be the equipment manager for the US Squad. He has been the equpment manager for the US Women’s Team since 2011 and has also spent time with both the Minnesota Wild and the Gopher Women’s Hockey Team.

One other person of note will be Adam Stirn. Stirn is the head ice maker at Mariucci and Ridder Arenas and he will be just one of 16 people invited to come to the Olympic to be in charge of the hockey ice surfaces. The Minnesota Daily did a great profile on him earlier this week.

Good luck to all our current and former Gopher Olympians, and hopefully they can bring back some hardware to show off around campus!