One of the largest groups of North Dakota alumni are making tracks to Sochi, Russia to represent four different nations in the XXII Winter Games
If the University of North Dakota and its alumni were their own nation, they would make quite an impression at the opening ceremonies of the upcoming Winter Olympic Games in Sochi, Russia.
UND boasts no less than 12 alumni – a dynamo dozen, if you will – who will be playing or serving in an official capacity at the Winter Olympics this year. That number would dwarf many national delegations that will be represented at this year's Games.
UND could be sending one of the largest delegations from one school to the Games this year.
It could rival the University of Minnesota, which on the strength of its hockey program alone, sent at least nine players to the 1980 "Miracle on Ice" Olympic Games in Lake Placid, N.Y. At the 2010 Games in Vancouver, UND had a respectable number of alumni on Olympic rosters or staffs, but it still was just half of what is going to this year's Games. That year, the "UND Delegation" was led by the Lamoureux Twins (Monique and Jocelyne) on the U.S. Women's National Team and Zach Parise and Jonathan Toews playing hockey on the men's side for Team USA and Canada, respectively.
This year, the Lamoureuxs are back along with Parise, who plays for the Minnesota Wild of the National Hockey League (NHL), and Toews, who currently centers for the NHL's Chicago Blackhawks. Making his Olympic debut with Team USA will be former UND hockey star T.J. Oshie, who is having a great season this year with the St. Louis Blues in the NHL.
Current UND women's hockey standouts Michelle Karvinen will be back playing hockey for another Olympics as a member of the Finnish Women's National Team. She will be joined on Team Finland by another current UND player, Susanna Tapani.
The German Women's National Team also will be playing hockey at this year's Games. Team Germany will have one current UND player, Tanja Eisenschmid, and one former UND skater, Susanne Fellner.
On the nonathletic side of things, three UND alumni will be serving in support roles with three different international Olympic teams this year. They are Brad Pascall, vice president of hockey operations for Hockey Canada's National Teams; Max Markowitz, serving as video coach for the Finnish Women's Hockey Team; and Jason Switzer, who's contracted to serve as an athletic trainer with the U.S. Olympic Slope Style Snowboard team.
This year's Team USA delegation, alone, will comprise five UND alumni, the most ever to wear the red white and blue at a single Olympic Games. The 2010 U.S. Winter Olympic Team had four UND alumni, and the 1956 U.S. team had three, with Dan McKinnon, Gordy Christian and Ken Purpur winning the silver medal as hockey players.
So for UND fans there's plenty of reasons to tune in and watch this year's Winter Olympics. You just might see someone you know!
The 2014 Winter Olympics from Sochi will run from Feb. 7-23.
Here's a complete rundown of UND alumni who are headed to this year's Winter Games:
Zach Parise, ice hockey player T.J. Oshie, ice hockey player Monique Lamoureux, ice hockey player Jocelyne Lamoureux, ice hockey player Jason Switzer, slope style snowboarding athletic trainer
Jonathan Toews, ice hockey player Brad Pascall, vice president for hockey operations for Hockey Canada
Michelle Karvinen, ice hockey player Susanna Tapani, ice hockey player Max Markowitz, video coach
Tanja Eisenschid, ice hockey player Susanne Fellner, ice hockey player