2014 Minnesota Olympians Competing in Sochi

[caption id="attachment_159279" align="aligncenter" width="549"]Leif Nordgren - Minnesota Olympian - Sochi - 2014 - Winter Olympics Leif Nordgren -- Men's Biathlon[/caption]

We Minnesotans are rather amazing creatures.

Each year, from November to March, we endure an oft-relentless barrage of falling snow and frigid temperatures that would force residents accustomed to milder climates, such as Iowa and all points south, into hibernation.

In fact, in Minnesota, we do much more than just endure the long, harsh Winters. We thrive in the snow and cold -- we embrace the frostiest third of our calendar, finding fun and inventive ways to remain active all year-round, no matter what the thermometer reads. Throughout spring, summer and fall, our state is buzzing with athletic and recreational activity. Golf courses are filled with foursomes; soccer, football and lacrosse fields are overbooked by teams vying for practice time; pick-up basketball games and volleyball matches are being played anywhere we Minnesotans can find a hoop or a net. As the winter arrives (as it always does), we don't miss a single beat. We pull our fishing boats from the water just in time to drag our fish houses back onto the ice -- we put away our bats and balls and dust off our sticks and pucks -- we trade in our water skis and wake boards for snow skis and snowboards. [caption id="attachment_159280" align="aligncenter" width="550"]Zach Parise - Minnesota Olympian - Sochi - 2014 - Winter Olympics Zach Parise -- US Men's Hockey[/caption] We snowmobile in lieu of four-wheeling -- we ice skate instead of rollerblading -- we hang up our bicycles in the garage and break out our sleds, toboggans and cross-country skis. We even came up with an icy variation of shuffle board and called it curling. In Minnesota, neither blowing snow, nor glaring ice, nor bitter cold serve to extinguish our competitive fire or diminish the love we share of all things sporting. We Minnesotans play hard all year round. Every fourth year, our creative resilience in pursuing athletic competition despite even the chilliest conditions bears fruit on a global scale. As the nations of the world come together to compete in the Winter Olympics, we Minnesotans, more so than residents of any other state in the Union, are prepared to represent our country in games that take place on snow and ice. As Minnesotans who are used to winter -- so naturally, the Winter Olympics is our time to shine. The opening ceremonies of the 22nd Winter Olympiad in Sochi, Russia are scheduled to air tonight at 6:30pm (CST) and, as per usual, Minnesota athletes stand to play a significant part in the competition over the next few weeks. [caption id="attachment_159281" align="aligncenter" width="550"]Allison Pottinger - Minnesota Olympian - Sochi - 2014 - Winter Olympics Allison Pottinger -- Women's Curling[/caption] Here is a complete list of Minnesotans competing in this year's Olympics (here is a link to a cool article on Star Tribune profiling each of these athletes): David Backes, Ice Hockey, Minneapolis

Jessie Diggins, Cross-Country Skiing, Afton

Justin Faulk, Ice Hockey, South St. Paul

Jeff Isaacson, Curling, Lakeland

John Landsteiner, Curling, Mapleton

Paul Martin, Ice Hockey, Elk River

Gigi Marvin, Ice Hockey, Warroad

[caption id="attachment_159283" align="aligncenter" width="550"]Gigi Marvin - Minnesota Olympian - Sochi - 2014 - Winter Olympics Gigi Marvin -- US Women's Hockey[/caption]

Ryan McDonagh, Ice Hockey, St. Paul

Leif Nordgren, Biathlon, Marine on St. Croix

T.J. Oshie, Ice Hockey, Warroad

Zach Parise, Ice Hockey, Minneapolis

Allison Pottinger, Curling, Eden Prairie

Anna Ringsred, Long Track Speedskating, Duluth

Anne Schleper, Ice Hockey, St. Cloud

John Shuster, Curling, Chisholm

Lee Stecklein, Ice Hockey, Roseville

Derek Stepan, Ice Hockey, Hastings

Blake Wheeler, Ice Hockey, Robbinsdale

Jared Zezel, Curling, Hibbing

Wow. That's a long list! In fact, Minnesota is tied with Colorado as the state sending the second most athletes to Sochi (19). Only California (20) is sending more. As we look forward to cheering on our fellow Minnesotans in Sochi over the next few weeks of competition, I thought it would be fun to take a quick look back into Minnesota's rich history over the course of the Winter Olympics up until now -- but I'll save that list for tomorrow's post. Check back on Saturday for my top five all-time Minnesota Olympic athletes (or Olympisotans as I call them).   Photos via: Google

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