Gov. Mark Dayton issued a proclamation Friday honoring the 19 Minnesotans participating in the Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia.
“I am one of many Minnesotans, who grew up dreaming of making the U.S. Olympic team. Few athletes, however, have the exceptional talent and extraordinary dedication needed to reach this sports zenith,” said Governor Dayton. “For all Minnesotans, I send our state’s Olympians our heartiest congratulations for their amazing achievements. We are proud to send our very best wishes to Minnesota’s athletes and to the entire Team USA.”
- David Backes, Minneapolis, Men’s Ice Hockey, the captain of the St. Louis Blues’ Hockey Team. A native of Minneapolis, he played three years of college hockey at Minnesota State University at Mankato before turning professional in 2006. At six feet, three inches, Backes is known for his determination and physical style of play.
- Jessie Diggins, Afton, Women’s Nordic Skiing. At 22-years-old, Diggins is the youngest member of the U.S. Olympic Women’s Nordic Ski Team. As a Stillwater Pony, she won three Minnesota state high school Nordic ski titles. Continuing that success, Diggins won a gold medal at the 2013 FIS World Ski Championships in Val di Fiemme, Italy.
- Justin Faulk, South Saint Paul, Men’s Ice Hockey. Only 21-years-old, Faulk is an up-and-coming professional hockey star for the Carolina Hurricanes. Before turning professional, Faulk played high school hockey for South Saint Paul and helped lead the University of Minnesota Duluth to a National Championship in 2011.
- Jeff Isaacson, Virginia, Men’s Curling, has been competitively curling since 1996. The 2014 Olympics will be his second time representing the United States. In 2010, Issacson was part of American squad that finished 10th. This year, Team USA will be looking for redemption and an Olympic medal.
- John Landsteiner, Mapleton, Men’s Curling, currently resides in Duluth, where he competes as a member of the Duluth Curling Club. Though he is only 23 years-old, Landsteiner has plenty of curling experience – winning bronze medals at both the 2012 and 2013 U.S. National Championships.
- Paul Martin, Elk River, Men’s Ice Hockey, a defenseman for the Pittsburgh Penguins. After starring at Elk River High School, Martin led the University of Minnesota to back-to-back National Championships in 2002 and 2003. The 2014 Olympics will be his third time representing the United States at the Winter Games.
- Gigi Marvin, Warroad, Women’s Ice Hockey. The 2014 Winter Games will be Marvin’s second time representing the United States at the Olympics. The Warroad native ranks fifth all-time in state girl’s hockey with 196 points and was named Ms. Hockey in 2005. At the University of Minnesota, Marvin helped lead the Gophers to the NCAA Women’s Frozen Four in 2009. She plays professionally for the Boston Blades.
- Ryan McDonagh, Saint Paul, Men’s Ice Hockey. A product of Cretin-Derham Hall (CDH) and the University of Wisconsin-Madison, McDonagh currently plays defenseman for the New York Rangers. As a junior at CDH, he helped lead the Raiders to their first state hockey title and was named Mr. Hockey in 2007. The 2014 Games will be his first time playing in the Olympics.
- Leif Nordgren, Marine on St. Croix, Men’s Biathlon, a 24-year-old graduate of Forest Lake High School and has been a member of the U.S. National Team since 2010. In 2013, Nordgren finished 5th in 4×7.5km Relay at the World Cup Oberhof, Germany.
- T.J. Oshie, Warroad, Men’s Ice Hockey, starred at Warroad High School for three seasons – leading the Warriors to two state hockey titles. He then played three more seasons at the University of North Dakota before turning professional in 2008. In 2013, Oshie helped the United States win a bronze medal at the Ice Hockey World Championships. Oshie plays professionally for the St. Louis Blues.
- Zach Parise, Minneapolis, Men’s Ice Hockey, a Minneapolis-native, currently is a star winger for the Minnesota Wild. Before turning professional, Parise played at Shattuck-St. Mary’s in Faribault and then at the University of North Dakota. Parise played for Team USA during its silver medal campaign in 2010. This year, Parise will serve as captain of the U.S. Men’s Ice Hockey Team.
- Allison Pottinger, Eden Prairie, Women’s Curling, is a resident of Eden Prairie and curls at the Saint Paul Curling Club. No stranger to success, she has appeared in ten World Championships since 1995 – medaling four times. She also competed in the 2010 Winter Games. In 2008, Pottinger was named USA Female Curling Athlete of the Year.
- Anna Ringsred, Duluth, Women’s Speedskating. The 2014 Winter Games will be Ringsred’s first time representing the United States at the Olympics. In the 2013 Olympic Trial, she finished second in 3000m. Ringsred, a graduate of Duluth Marshal High School, has been speedskating since age 13.
- Anne Schleper, St. Cloud, Women’s Ice Hockey. A graduate of St. Cloud Cathedral and the University of Minnesota, Schleper is making her Olympic debut in Sochi. Though it’s hardly her first time competing internationally, Schelper won gold medals at the 2011 and 2013 World Championship and a silver medal at the 2012 World Championship. She plays professionally for the Boston Blades.
- John Shuster, Chisholm, Men’s Curling. Schuster is the captain of the U.S. Olympic Curling team. This will be the Chisolm native’s third time representing the United States. He won a bronze medal in 2006 and is looking to avenge a disappointing 10th place finished in 2010. When Schuster is not curling, he manages the Pickwick Restaurant and Pub in Duluth.
- Lee Stecklein, Roseville, Women’s Ice Hockey, is a 2012 graduate of Roseville Area High School. In her first year at the University of Minnesota, Stecklein helped lead the Gophers to a 41-0 undefeated season and the 2013 National Championship. Currently, she is taking a leave of absence from school to represent the United States in the Olympics.
- Derek Stepan, Hastings, Men’s Ice Hockey. Only 23-years-old, Stepan currently plays center for the New York Rangers. The Hastings native played his high school hockey at Shattuck-St. Mary’s in Fairbault before playing two years at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. In 2010, Stepan helped the United States upset Canada at the World Junior Championships.
- Blake Wheeler, Robbinsdale, Men’s Ice Hockey, currently plays right wing for the Winnipeg Jets. Growing up in Robbinsdale, Wheeler lead the Breck Mustangs to a state hockey championship in 2004. He later starred at the University of Minnesota before turning professional in 2008.
- Jared Zezel, Hibbing, Men’s Curling. A student at Bemidji State University, this will be the 22-year-old, Zezel’s first time in the Olympics. He finished 6th in the 2011 World Junior Championships and 3rd at the U.S. National Championships in both 2012 and 2013. Zezel and his teammates are looking to avenge a disappointing 10th place finish for Team USA at the 2010 Winter Games.