You already know who to root for at the 2014 Winter Olympic Games in Sochi this month – anyone wearing Red, White & Blue.
But you can cheer extra hard for the list of athletes in this article. These people are Wisconsin’s current contribution to the greatest international sporting event in history.
Learn a little about each of these 14 amazing competitors and follow their journey by following them on Twitter and Facebook. We’ve provided links at the end of each athlete’s section.
Many of the Olympians are sharing interesting stuff – like pictures of a foosball match between USA and Canada.
1. Matt Antoine – Prairie du Chien
Matthew Antoine competes in the Skeleton. Yeah – that’s the one where one guy races down the same track as the bobsledders – except they do it alone on a tiny little sled at close to 80 mph.
This may be the most hardcore of all Olympic events. In 2010, an Olympic athlete from the nation of Georgia actually died when in an accident during time trials. Let’s hope that doesn’t happen to Matt.
He describes himself as a fan of all things Wisconsin, and has been competing in the Skeleton since 2003. Apparently, Antoine saw this sport in the 2002 Olympics and thought it looked like a sport he’d like to try.
I think that too – but usually I’m watching a hot dog eating contest.
2. Tucker Fredricks – Janesville
This will be speed skater Tucker Fredricks third Winter Olympic Games. He holds the American record in the 500 meter event, and he’s a two-time national champion.
His Twitter page currently features a picture of Clay Matthews doing his signature move on one side, with Tucker imitating the move on the other. So it’s safe to say this guy is a Green Bay Packers fan.
He’s also a big fan of video games and is married to former Japanese speed skater Eriko Seo.
Fredricks made news this year when he asked his family not to come watch him at the games in Sochi. That was because of safety concerns and the threat of terror attacks. His father told the Janesville Gazette Tucker needs to concentrate on the games and not worry about security.
- Follow Tucker Fredricks on Twitter
3. Alyson Dudek – Hales Corners
Short track speed skater Alyson Dudek is already an Olympic bronze medal winner. She’s also a proud Wisconsinite and a fan of both the Packers and Milwaukee Brewers.
Check out this article from the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel featuring a picture of Alyson sporting a cheesehead as she poses with the USA speedskating team.
Alyson started speedskating when she was just 7 years old. For charitable work, Aly supports anti-bullying efforts. Learn more about that on Alyson Dudek’s website.
She’s also quite photogenic – which the folks at RantSports.com seemed to notice. You can see some of her candid Instagram photos for more proof of her love for Wisconsin sports here.
4. Sugar Todd – Wauwatosa
Joining Alyson on the USA Women’s speedskating team is Sugar Raeshelle-Faye Chelsea Todd. She is originally from Omaha, Nebraska.
But when she was just a kid, she convinced her family to move to Milwaukee so she could pursue skating. Sugar became a Packers fan while living in Wisconsin.
Sugar graduated from Wauwatosa East High in 2008. She now lives in Park City, Utah – but lists Milwaukee as her hometown on the US Speedskating website. She also says Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid is one of her favorite films – pretty good taste for a jock!
In Sochi, Sugar Todd will be competing in the 500 meter and 1000 meter events.
5. Maria Lamb – River Falls
Yet another female speed skater heading to Sochi is Maria Lamb.
Lamb will be the only American competing in the 5000 meter race. This is her third trip to compete in the Olympics.
Maria started skating when she was 8 years old. Her mom originally signed her up for figure skating – but that just wasn’t Maria’s thing. She talked about those early days on her US Speedskating profile.
“As soon as I learned how to stand up and skate all I wanted to do was skate circles and laps as fast as I could.”
When she’s not competing, Lamb volunteers at a speedskating club back in Wisconsin.
- Follow Maria Lamb on Twitter
6. Mitchell Whitmore – Waukesha
Mitchell Whitmore rounds out the collection of speedskating competitors from Wisconsin at the 2014 Winter Olympics.
He also competed in the 2010 Winter Games. This time he and Tucker Fredericks are both considered medal contenders in the 500 meter event. Mitch placed 5th and Fredricks was 6th in the World Cup standings.
He’s originally from California, and lived in Wisconsin from the ages of 14 to 21 graduating from Waukesha North High School and is currently attending UW Milwaukee.
But…unlike many of the other folks on this list…Mitchell is a Chicago Bears fan.
We’ll try not to think about that when we’re cheering you on, Mitch.
- Follow Mitch Whitmore on Twitter
7. Ryan Suter – Madison
In addition to being a former Wisconsin Badger, Ryan Suter has played hockey for the Madison Capitols and Milwaukee Admirals. He’s now in the NHL playing for the Minnesota Wild.
Suter was on the USA Hockey team that took home the Silver at the 2010 Winter Games.
But perhaps the most interesting thing about Ryan is the fact that his dad, Bob Suter, was a member of the 1980 USA Men’s Hockey Team. Those are the guys responsible for the so-called Miracle On Ice when the Americans, under the coaching of Herb Brooks, upset Soviet Russia before going on to win Gold. That game is widely considered one of the greatest moments in sports history.
Ryan also has an uncle and brother who play hockey – so it’s definitely in his blood.
- Follow Ryan Suter on Twitter
8. Joe Pavelski – Plover
Another former Badger on the USA Men’s Hockey team is Joe Pavelski. He helped the Badgers win the 2006 NCAA Championship while leading the team in points that season. Pavelski now plays Center in the NHL for the San Jose Sharks.
This is Joe’s second Olympics as he was also on the 2010 team that won the Silver.
During the last Winter Games, USA general manager Brian Burke gave Pavelski the nickname Swiss Army Knife, which must mean he has some tricks up his sleeves.
Even before college, Joe Pavelski was a hockey star. He won the State Championship with the Stevens Point Area Senior High Panthers in 2002.
9. Phil Kessel – Madison
Unlike the other two Wisconsinites on the USA Men’s Hockey team, Madison native Phil Kessel played college hockey for the Minnesota Gophers.
In 2006, the Boston Bruins drafted Kessel 5th overall, and he now plays right wing for the Toronto Maple Leafs (I’m not sure why it isn’t Maple Leaves).
Phil Kessel was diagnosed with testicular cancer during his rookie year in the NHL, but recovered after only missing 11 games following surgery. He went on to win the Bill Masterton Memorial Trophy. That’s an honor given to NHL players who portray qualities of perseverance, sportsmanship, and dedication to the sport of hockey.
Phil comes from a family of athletes that include a father who was drafted by the Washington Redskins. He also has a cousin in the NHL and a younger brother who is currently playing pro-hockey for East Coast Hockey League.
- Follow Phil Kessel on Twitter
10. Amanda Kessel – Madison
Phil Kessel won’t be the only member of his family competing in the 2014 Winter Games. His sister, Amanda Kessel is on the Women’s USA Hockey Team.
Even before high school, Amanda was tearing up the ice. She played with the boys on the Madison Capitols helping the team reach the state and regional championships.
Just like her big brother did, Amanda Kessel is currently playing hockey for the Minnesota Golden Gophers.
Amanda had to have hip surgery during the off season to repair an injury. So she hasn’t played much with the team yet, but coach Katy Stone is confident the 22 year-old will be able to perform.
- Follow Amanda Kessel on Twitter
11. Brianna Decker – Dousman
Wisconsin Badgers hockey standout Brianna Decker is another Wisconsinite on Team USA.
Decker holds the Badgers’ team record for the longest scoring streak at 32 games. Plus she has multiple hat tricks to her name.
She was also the recipient of the 2012 Patty Kazmaier Award, which honors the best female hockey player in NCAA Division 1 play.
When Brianna was in 5th grade, her class was discussing the 2002 Olympics in Salt Lake City. Her teacher remembers Brianna predicting that someday she’d be playing for the women’s Olympic hockey team. Recently Brianna went back to her old classroom to talk with students. Read more in a story from the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.
Like many of her other Olympic teammates from Wisconsin, Brianna says she loves the Packers.
- Follow Brianna Decker on Twitter
12. Jessie Vetter – Cottage Grove
The third Wisconsinite on the USA Women’s Hockey team is another former Badger. Jesse Vetter was a member of the team that took home the NCAA Championship trophy in 2009.
She’ll be a goaltender at the Winter Games in Sochi. Jessie already has a silver medal from the 2010 Winter Olympics.
When she was in high school, Vetter played goalie on the boys team for Monona Grove. She also was on the girl’s soccer team and won three state championships.
In 2010, an award for girls high school hockey players was created and named in Jessica Vetter’s honor.
- Follow Jessie Vetter on Twitter
13. Erika Brown – Madison
The sport of curling really started catching on with US audiences during the 2010 Winter Olympics. Madison native Erika Brown is leading the women’s team in 2014.
This is Brown’s second Olympics. She also competed in the 1998 Winter Games in Nagano, Japan. She’s also a seven-time U.S. Champion.
As the skip of the curling team, Erika is in charge of the strategy – and strategizing is an important part of this sport. The skip also throws the last two stones.
Erika Brown is married to Ian Tetley, a three time World Champion curler.
Follow Erika Brown on Twitter
Become a fan of Team Erika Brown on Facebook
14. Debbie McCormick – Rio
Erika Brown will be joined Debbie McCormick who was born in Saskatchewan, Canada – but moved to Wisconsin with her family when she was quite young.
Thankfully for the USA – she’s chosen to play for our side.
McCormick is no stranger to the Winter Olympics. She competed in the 1998, 2002 and 2010 Olympics. She was skip at the 2010 Olympics in Vancouver. Now she’s joined Erika Brown’s team to participate in the sport of curling’s biggest stage for the fourth time.
McCormick is from Rio. Not like de Janeiro, like Columbia County. It’s a small town near Madison with a population just over 1,000 people. Not surprisingly – Debbie is the only name listed on Wikipedia under “Notable People.”
Another interesting fact about Debbie…in 2007 she appeared in a calendar called Fire on Ice to promote the sport along with other scantily clad female curlers.
- Follow Debbie McCormick on Twitter
Other Olympians with Wisconsin Connections
We did our best to track down all the Olympians who call Wisconsin home. If we missed someone – please let us know in the comments below.
There are also quite a few Olympic athletes who are connected to the state, but may not have grown up here.
That includes many speed skaters who’ve moved to Milwaukee so they can train at the Pettit National Ice Center.
There are also some other former Wisconsin Badger hockey players on both the men’s and women’s teams. Plus, former Green Bay Gambler Blake Wheeler is also playing for Team USA in Sochi.
A couple of others to keep an eye on – Nick Baumgartner is a USA snowboarder who hails from Upper Michigan, but his family is originally from Wisconsin and he’s a big Green Bay Packers fan. Speaking of the Packers, watch for Johnny Quinn in the two-man bobsled event. He was on the Packers squad as a wide receiver during training camp in 2008.
Good luck to all the athletes on the 2014 USA Olympic team as they go for gold!