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Work pays off big

State sends five to Olympics

Of the 14 cross-country skiers named to the men’s and women’s Olympic teams this week, 5 were raised in Washington state.

They include siblings Erik and Sadie Bjornsen of Mazama, Brian Gregg formerly of Mazama, Torin Koos formerly of Leavenworth and Holly Brooks of Seattle.

Brian’s wife of two years, Caitlin Compton, and Winthrop’s Casey Smith, who just missed making the biathlon (skiing and shooting) team didn’t make the 2014 Winter Games roster.

Caitlin, who was on the women’s team four years ago in Vancouver, B.C., grew up in Vermont.

All of them put in years of training with many stops, starts and detours along the way.

“I think I worked a little too hard in October and November, which ended up leaving me tired for the first few races of the year,” Erik Bjornsen said. “But things have drastically turned around for me and I’m starting to feel stronger then ever.”

Sadie spent several weeks last month in France recuperating from a stubborn bout with the flu.

“Four years ago, I dropped out of college and moved back to my hometown in an effort to train my heart out to make the Vancouver Olympic Games,” Sadie said Thursday on her blog.

After not making the team, she considered giving up the sport.

Sadie was then persuaded by Holly to join her at Alaska Pacific University.

“So, again, I went a new direction,” Sadie said. “What felt like a spontaneous and extreme decision four years ago turned out to be the best decision of my life so far! These past four years training with APU I have fallen back in love with this sport and made some huge improvements, and suddenly I am now going to be competing in this ‘Olympic Dream’ of mine.”

It’s interesting the sibling line among the U.S. team.

Brothers Bryan Fletcher and Taylor Fletcher, both first-time Olympians, have been named to the men’s team.

Brian Gregg has a twin brother, Chad, and a sister Tara.

The Greggs moved from Colorado to the Methow Valley in 1984, where Jim worked for the Forest Service.

Chad, through his tech company in Seattle will be supporting NBC’s streaming of Olympic coverage.

Jim and his wife, Jan, are leaving for the final few days of the Olympics next month.

“The Olympics are like the Super Bowl,” Jim said. “You can see it better on TV. We are going for the atmosphere and to support Brian. We probably will see less of him than if we watched it on TV.

“I am extremely excited and looking forward to this next adventure.”

Al Camp is the sports editor at The Chronicle. Email him at sports@omakchronicle.com.

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