ROSEMONT, Ill. (WKBT) - At least 42 current or former Big Ten Conference student-athletes, alumni or coaches will be at the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia from February 7-23.
Olympians from the Big Ten include 31 members of the United States team, along with athletes representing Austria, Canada, Finland and Sweden. Overall, Minnesota leads the way with 14 Olympic participants, followed by Wisconsin (11), Michigan (8), Ohio State (4), Illinois (2) and Michigan State (2) and Nebraska (1).
There are 18 former Olympians, including 16 past medalists, according to a news release from the Big Ten Conference. Michigan State's Duncan Keith and Wisconsin's Meaghan Mikkelson look to repeat as gold medalists for the Canadian men's and women's ice hockey teams, while the Big Ten will feature many familiar faces on the U.S. hockey teams. Michigan State's Ryan Miller, Minnesota's Phil Kessel, Ohio State's Ryan Kesler and Wisconsin's Meghan Duggan, Hilary Knight, Joe Pavelski, Ryan Suter and Jessie Vetter won silver medals in the 2010 Vancouver Games. Other past medalists include Illinois' Jonathan Kuck (silver medal – 2010 USA speed skating), Michigan's Meryl Davis and Charlie White (silver medal – 2010 USA ice dancing), Minnesota's Noora Räty (bronze medal – 2010 Finland women's ice hockey), Nebraska's Curtis Tomasevicz (gold medal – 2010 USA bobsled) and Ohio State's Minttu Tuominen (bronze medal – 2010 Finland women's ice hockey). The Wolverines' Evan Bates and Badgers' Erika Brown both return to the Olympics after taking part in 2010, as Evans will compete in ice dancing and Brown will participate in curling.
The Big Ten will also be represented on Team USA coaching staffs by three former conference student-athletes and one current assistant coach. Men's ice hockey assistant coaches Todd Richards and Tony Granato competed collegiately at Minnesota and Wisconsin, respectively. Richards is the Gophers' all-time leading scorer among defensemen and the current head coach of the Columbus Blue Jackets, while Granato serves as an assistant coach for the Pittsburgh Penguins and was inducted into the Badgers' Hall of Fame in 2000. Both competed for Team USA in the 1988 Olympics in Calgary. Former Minnesota goaltender Robb Stauber, an assistant coach for the U.S. women's ice hockey team, was the first goalie to win the Hobey Baker Award in 1988. Current Gopher goalie coach Andy Kent will serve in the same role for the Finland women's ice hockey squad.
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