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Pacific Northwest Olympians At The 2018 PyeongChang Winter Games

Reese Brown
File photo of Sadie Bjornsen, a native of Washington's Methow Valley. She represents a legitimate threat to medal at the Winter Games in PyeongChang.

The U.S. Olympic Committee officially announced the members of the 2018 Olympic Team Friday morning. Ten athletes from Oregon and Washington made the cut. Additionally, two snowboarders and two skiers raised in the Pacific Northwest will compete at the PyeongChang Games for other countries.

The 2018 Winter Olympics in PyeongChang, South Korea runs from February 8-25.--- 

Sadie Bjornsen, Mazama, Washington/ Anchorage - Nordic skiing

Bjornsen, 28, is winning medals on the World Cup race circuit leading up to 2018 Winter Games, giving hopes for a rare Nordic medal for U.S. cross-country skiing. Bjornsen lists the 5K classic sprint as her favorite event. At the 2014 Winter Olympics, she competed in longer distances. 

Off the snow, Bjornsen is currently working towards a master's degree in business at Alaska Pacific University. ?

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Erik Bjornsen, Mazama, Washington/Anchorage - Nordic skiing 

The younger half of the brother-sister combo from Washington's Methow Valley, Erik will be participating in his second Olympics after competing in Sochi. At the 2014 Winter Olympics he competed in five individual and relay events.

The 26-year-old’s strongest event in elite competitions has been the team sprint classic. ?

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J.R. Celski, Federal Way, Washington - Short track speedskating

Celski was a double bronze medalist at the 2010 Vancouver Games and brought home silver from Sochi in 2014 in the 5000 meter relay.

He took a full season off after Vancouver, collaborating with Macklemore and others for a film project, and came back faster than ever. The 27 year old may be among the Northwest's best hopes to bring home a medal from PyeongChang. ?

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• Ben Ferguson, Bend, Oregon - Snowboarding

Ben, 22, and his younger brother Gabe, 18, are both members of the 2017-18 U.S. National Snowboard Team. Both brothers competed for spots on this year's Olympic team in snowboard halfpipe, but only Ben made it. PyeongChang will be Ben’s Olympic debut.

Snow sports are a family affair for the Fergusons, with their dad acting as their coach and helping them perfect their tricks in a halfpipe at Mount Bachelor before the brothers turned professional. 

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• Tommy Ford, Bend, Oregon - Alpine skiing

Ford, 28, is another Mount Bachelor ski team product and a U.S. Ski Team veteran. He raced in the 2010 Vancouver Olympics, but missed the 2014 Sochi Games due to a severe leg injury suffered the year before. Ford is a giant slalom specialist. ?

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Credit Cody Downard Photography / USSA -
File photo. Oregon's Tommy Ford is making his second appearance in the Winter Olympics. He competed in the 2010 Winter Games in Vancouver, but missed out in 2014 due to injury.

• Breezy Johnson, Bellingham, Washington/Victor, Idaho - Alpine skiing

Johnson is both a sophomore at Western Washington University and a rookie Olympian. She attends class in spring quarter and trains and competes on the World Cup tour in fall and winter.

The 21-year-old, who was raised in eastern Idaho, expects to take eight years to get through college at this pace. In PyeongChang, look for her in the women's downhill.

And yes, Breezy is her real name. ?

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• Sam Michener, Gresham, Oregon - Bobsled

The 30-year-old former University of Idaho track standout from Gresham planned to begin medical school in 2012. But then he attended a U.S. bobsled federation tryout at Lake Placid just for the heck of it in the summer after completing his undergrad education. Michener performed so well he secured an invitation to join the U.S. development squad.

Since then, Michener has advanced through the ranks to score his first Olympic team nomination. Michener will be the brakeman in the four-man bobsled piloted by Nick Cunningham, a 2008 graduate of Boise State University.

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• Laurenne Ross, Bend, Oregon- Alpine skiing

The 29-year-old Mount Bachelor ski team alum began skiing at the age of two. Ross tore her ACL in March 2017 and needed to recover fast to make her second Olympic team. She excels in the downhill and Super-G disciplines. 

Ross has many "eclectic" interests outside of skiing including music (she plays 3-4 instruments), photography, rock climbing and art. ?

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• Aaron Tran, Federal Way, Washington - Short track speedskating

Another Federal Way, Washington, product who looks up to his hometown buddy, J.R. Celski. Tran said he has followed in Celski’s footsteps, attending the same public school six years apart and taking up inline skating before transitioning to ice skates.

Tran, 21, is said to be a fan of K-pop which should make him feel at home in South Korea.

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• Jacqueline Wiles, Portland - Alpine skiing

Wiles made a successful bid for the 2014 Winter Olympic team as a hard-charging, 21-year-old U.S. ski team rookie. She repeats in 2018 in women's downhill.

Wiles skied with the White Pass, Washington, racing team in her teens and graduated from Canby High School.

Update: Wiles was forced to withdraw from the PyeongChang Games after she injured her leg in a nasty downhill race crash in the German Alps on February 3. "I am completely devastated & heartbroken," she wrote on Instagram.

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Credit U.S. Ski Team -
U.S. Ski Team -
Jackie Wiles competes in the Women's Combined at the 2016 Nature Valley U.S. Alpine Championships at Sun Valley, Idaho.

In addition to the Team USA members, three other athletes raised in the Pacific Northwest will compete at the 2018 Winter Olympics under other flags.

Team Australia named a snowboarder who lives in Bend, Oregon, to its 2018 Olympic squad on Wednesday. Kent Callister, 22, is making his second trip to the Winter Games after placing ninth in the halfpipe competition in Sochi. Callister has dual citizenship because his father is Australian, but he mostly grew up in Bend.

Snowboarder Vic Wild, 31, makes a return trip to the Winter Olympics representing Russia. At the Sochi Games, Wild won gold medals in snowboard parallel slalom and parallel giant slalom. This White Salmon, Washington, native learned to ski and snowboard at Mount Hood Meadows. He took Russian citizenship after marrying a Russian snowboarder in 2011.

Alpine skier Jeffrey Webb, 19, is the first alpine skier ever to represent Malaysia at the Winter Games. He will compete in the men's slalom and giant slalom. Webb graduated from Manson High School by Lake Chelan, Washington, in 2017. He trained with the Mission Ridge Ski Team outside Wenatchee. Webb's father is from Chelan and his mother is Malaysian.

It does not snow in Malaysia, nor in the Philippine Islands, but the Philippines will be represented at the Winter Games by Filipino-Americanskier Asa Miller. Miller, 17, was born in Portland and trains at Mount Hood. He is taking a break from his senior year at Lincoln High School to compete in PyeongChang in giant slalom. Miller has dual citizenship in the U.S. and the Philippines because his mother is Filipino.

Now semi-retired, Tom Banse covered national news, business, science, public policy, Olympic sports and human interest stories from across the Northwest. He reported from well known and out–of–the–way places in the region where important, amusing, touching, or outrageous events unfolded. Tom's stories can be found online and were heard on-air during "Morning Edition" and "All Things Considered" on NPR stations in Washington, Oregon, and Idaho.