2014 Olympians with ties to Western Pennsylvania



Lauryn Williams

Age: 30

Team: United States

Hometown: Rochester.

Event: Two-woman bobsled (Feb. 18-19)

Olympic history: Williams has already lived one illustrious Olympic life as a 100-meter sprinter. In the 2004 Athens Games, she took silver in the event, bringing glory on the world stage back to Western Pennsylvania. In the 2008 Beijing Games, she finished fourth, and in the 2012 London Games, she helped Team USA take gold in the 100-meter relay as an alternate. Williams retired from track and field last summer.

Sochi stakes: Williams was such a natural as a push athlete in bobsled that she finished in third place at the push national championships with just a week of training under her belt. As she spent the past six months learning how to work in the freezing cold with a driver, it was no surprise that she emerged as one of the top three push athletes, along with Lolo Jones and Aja Evans. She and Jones will become the 9th and 10th U.S. athletes to compete in both the summer and winter Olympics.

Sidney Crosby

Age: 26

Team: Canada

Hometown: Cole Harbour, Nova Scotia

Event: Hockey

Position: Center

International play history: Crosby first played for Team Canada as a 16-year-old in the 2003 U-18 World Cup. He has led the Canadians to gold in the 2005 Junior World Championships and the 2010 Vancouver Olympics, where he scored the winning goal to give Canada a 3-2 overtime victory vs. the United States in the final.

Sochi stakes: As Crosby has learned in Pittsburgh, once you win the big one, the expectations only get bigger. Anything other than a gold medal will be a disappointment for Crosby's home country.

Chris Kunitz

Age: 34

Team: Canada

Hometown: Regina, Saskatchewan

Event: Hockey

Position: Forward

International play history: Kunitz has only played for Team Canada once, in the 2008 World Championships, helping the Canadians to a silver medal.

Sochi stakes: Kunitz is in the middle of a career year for the Penguins, and many of his critics feel his numbers are mostly due to him playing alongside Sidney Crosby. Those same critics also believe he made Team Canada because of his relationship with Crosby. If Kunitz lights it up on the world stage, he'll emphatically silence those doubters.

Evgeni Malkin

Age: 27

Team: Russia

Hometown: Magnitogorsk

Event: Hockey

Position: Forward/center

International play history: Playing for his country is old hat for Malkin at this point. He led his team to gold in the 2012 World Championships and the 2004 World U18 championships, but the Russians did not medal in either the 2006 Turin Olympics or the 2010 Vancouver Games.

Sochi stakes: Playing in his home country, Malkin will be playing with the most pressure of the Penguins' Olympic contingent. Russia is hockey-crazy, and Malkin, who spends part of his offseason in Moscow, will have a major opportunity to grow his legend at home.

Brooks Orpik

Age: 33

Team: United States

Hometown: Amherst, N.Y.

Event: Hockey

Position: Defenseman

International play history: In 1999, Orpik played in the World junior championships. It was more than a decade before he represented Team USA again, in the 2010 Vancouver Games, where he helped the Americans to a silver medal.

Sochi stakes: This will likely be Orpik's last chance at Olympic gold. He will be one of Team USA's most dependable defensemen.

Paul Martin

Age: 32

Team: United States

Hometown: Elk River, Minn.

Event: Hockey

Position: Defenseman

International play history: Martin played on Team USA once as a junior and three times as a senior, but he has never been a part of a team that medaled. He made the team for the 2006 Turin Games but did not see action. In 2010, he made the Olympic team again but could not compete because of injury.

Sochi stakes: For Martin, playing in the Olympics will be the culmination of a dream years in the making. He will likely play with Orpik, whom he is paired with in Pittsburgh. Their chemistry should provide Team USA a stabilizing force at the blue line.

Jussi Jokinen

Age: 30

Team: Finland

Hometown: Kalajoki

Event: Hockey

Position: Forward

International play history: Jokinen has been a staple of the Finland national team for a decade and helped the Fins to a silver medal at the 2006 Turin Olympics.

Sochi stakes: Jokinen was left off the 2010 Vancouver team for reasons he can't fathom, considering that the Olympics was during the best year of his career.

Olli Maatta

Age: 19

Team: Finland

Hometown: Jyväskylä

Event: Hockey

Position: Defenseman

International play history: Maatta has played for Finland in junior events for the past four years.

Sochi stakes: For the Penguins, Maatta has played well beyond his years, and Finland will be counting on him continuing that trend in Sochi.

Dan Bylsma

Age: 43

Hometown: Grand Haven, Mich.

Event: Hockey

Position: United States head coach

Sochi stakes: Within weeks of his job security being up for debate with the Penguins in June, Bylsma found out that he had been named the head coach of Team USA. He credits his preparation for how he has been able to rise through the coaching ranks so quickly, but the thing about coaching in the Olympics is that there is only so much one can prepare for given the short time players and coaches are together. Bylsma will be lauded if Team USA can medal for the first time in the Olympics on the larger international ice surface.

Ray Shero

Age: 51

Hometown: St. Paul, Minn.

Event: Hockey

Position: United States associate general manager

Sochi stakes: Shero, the Penguins general manager, kept Bylsma as the Penguins coach and was soon joined with him in building the Team USA roster. It's a Penguins-heavy American staff. If Team USA medals, that will reflect well upon the organization Shero has put together.

Tony Granato

Age: 49

Hometown: Downers Grove, Ill.

Event: Hockey

Position: United States assistant coach

Sochi stakes: Granato played for Team USA in the 1998 Winter Olympics and now will get a chance to help Bylsma coach the Americans. The Penguins assistant should be a great asset to Team USA's penalty-killing preparation.

Brianne McLaughlin

Age: 26

Team: United States

Hometown: Sheffield Village, Ohio

Event: Women's hockey

Position: Goaltender

Olympic history: McLaughlin, the former goaltender for the Robert Morris women's hockey team, will be making her second appearance, She was part of Team USA that won silver at Vancouver in 2010. AT RMU, she set an NCAA record with 3,809 saves and four times topped 50 in a game as a senior.


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