LDS Olympians to Compete in Sochi
Contributed By By Jason Swensen, Church News staff writer
- Several Latter-day Saints from around the world will represent their countries in the 2014 Olympic Winter Games in Sochi, Russia.
- A few of the LDS athletes are expected to compete for a spot on the medal podium during the Games.
- The 2014 Olympic Winter Games are scheduled to take place February 7–23 in southwestern Russia.
More than 2,500 athletes are expected to represent their countries and compete for medals in the 2014 Olympic Winter Games in Sochi, Russia.
Counted among the skaters, sledders, skiers, and other competitors will be several Latter-day Saints. They come from several different nations and will compete in a variety of sports.
A few are even expected to compete for a spot on the medal podium during the Games, which are scheduled to take place February 7–23 in southwestern Russia.
Here’s the roster of Mormon men and women who will answer to the rarefied title of Olympian in the coming weeks:
♦ David Bissett, 34, is a Canadian bobsledder who will be competing in his third Olympics in Sochi.
A bronze medalist in the four-man sled event in the 2010 Games in Vancouver, the versatile athlete also claimed silver in the 2007 world championships.
He is a member of the Crystalridge Ward, Calgary Alberta Foothills Stake.
♦ Australian snowboarder Torah Bright returns to the Olympics after becoming one of the most celebrated competitors during the 2010 Vancouver Games.
She won gold in the popular halfpipe competition four years ago.
Torah, 27, will be a busy woman in Sochi, competing in all three snowboarding disciplines—halfpipe, slopestyle, and snowboard cross.
She makes her home in Salt Lake City, Utah, and has membership in the Sugar House Ward, Salt Lake Sugar House Stake.
♦ Idaho native, Eagle Scout, and American alpine skier Erik Fisher will make an encore Olympic appearance in Sochi.
A hand injury prevented him from contending in that event previously. He will arrive in Russia healthy and ready to make his mark in the downhill and super G events.
A natural athlete, Erik, 28, fits the profile of a world-class ski racer—fearless, fast, and driven.
He is a member of the Black Canyon YSA Branch, Middleton Idaho Stake.
♦ Returned missionary Chris Fogt and his teammates on the United States four-man bobsled team are expected to compete for a medal in Sochi.
The Alpine, Utah, resident is an Eagle Scout and also a captain in the U.S. Army. He was deployed to Iraq shortly after the Vancouver Games.
He ran track for Utah Valley University in Orem, Utah, and married Rachel Nelson last summer.
The Fogts belong to the Alpine 4th Ward, Alpine Utah Stake.
♦ LDS luger Kate Hansen, 21, goes into the Sochi Olympics on a hot streak. The Brigham Young University student and La Canada, California, native won her first World Cup event on January 25 in Latvia.
Kate’s win was the first in World Cup singles for the United States since 1997.
“This is something I’ve looked forward to my entire life,” she told BYU Magazine following her selection to the Olympic team. “It’s an honor to be part of Team USA.”
Kate is a member of the Glendale 7th Ward, La Crescenta California Stake.
♦ Torah Bright won’t be the only LDS snowboarder competing in Sochi. American Jessika Jenson will compete in the first slopestyle event during the Olympic Games.
An outdoor adventure lover, Jessika, 22, enjoys riding dirt bikes, wakeboards, and mountain bikes when she is not training.
She belongs to the Garfield 1st Ward, Rigby Idaho South Stake.
♦ Canadian skeleton athlete Eric Neilson came relatively late to his high-speed sled discipline. The 33-year-old first tried the sport when he was 25.
He made the Canadian World Cup team three years ago and has recorded several top-10 World Cup finishes.
A member of the Victoria 1st Ward, Victoria British Columbia Stake, Eric works as a mail carrier for Canada Post.
♦ Christian Niccum, a luger competing in the men’s doubles event, returns to the Olympics for the third time. He will compete in Sochi with his doubles partner, Jayson Terdiman.
The pair recently finished a season-best ninth place in a World Cup luge doubles race in Oberhof, Germany.
A family man, Christian, 36, enjoys spending time with his wife, Bobbie Jo, and their daughter, Hayden Lulu.
The Niccums belong to the Cottage Lake Ward, Bothell Washington Stake.
♦ American alpine skier Steve Nyman will be participating in his third Olympic Games in Sochi. He is expected to ski in a variety of competitions.
Steve, 32, has been skiing competitively since he was a boy growing up in Utah County. He is a four-time World Cup downhill medalist and a two-time downhill national champ.
He is a member of the Riverwoods Ward, Provo Utah Edgemont North Stake.
♦ Fans of LDS skeleton racer Noelle Pikus-Pace are likely well aware of the athlete’s deep religious beliefs. The cover page of her blog, teampikuspace.blogspot.com, includes a link to Church websites.
A skeleton World Cup champion, Noelle began her sledding career in 2001. She also competed on Utah Valley University’s track and field team.
She just missed the podium in the 2010 Winter Games after finishing one-tenth of a second out of the medal race. She travels to all her international competitions with “Team Pikus-Pace” that includes her husband, Janson Pace, and their children, Lacee Lynne and Traycen.
The Paces belong to the Kiowa Valley 1st Ward, Eagle Mountain Utah East Stake.