Meet Your Illinois Olympic Heroes | Enjoy Olympic Sports in Illinois
Urges Illinois Residents to Enjoy Winter Activities
CHICAGO – Governor Pat Quinn today saluted the Illinois athletes and Chicago Blackhawks players who are competing in the 2014 Winter Games in Sochi, saying they personify the Olympic motto of “Citius, Altius, Fortius” (“Swifter, Higher, Stronger”) and Olympic ideal of “unity among diversity.” The Governor also unveiled a website to showcase our Olympic heroes and inform Illinois residents where they can partake in winter sports activities.
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There are 10 Blackhawks hitting the ice in Sochi, playing for five different nations, including Patrick Kane on Team USA. Kane was part of the silver medal-winning 2010 Team USA. Blackhawks fans can also watch Jonathan Toews, Duncan Keith and Patrick Sharp on Team Canada; Niklas Hjalmarsson, Marcus Kruger and Johnny Oduya on Team Sweden; Marian Hossa and Michal Handzus on Team Slovakia; and Michael Rozsival on Team Czech Republic. Toews, Keith, Oduya, Kane, Hossa, and Handzus have played in previous Olympic Games for their respective countries.
Eleven Illinois athletes are in Sochi as part of the U.S. Olympic Team. Illinois’ Team USA athletes include both past Olympic medalists and those competing at the Olympics for the first time. The Illinois Olympic athletes are:
Megan Bozek (Buffalo Grove)
Hockey, age 22
Megan attended the University of Minnesota. She is a member of the U.S. women’s national ice hockey team. This is her first Olympics.
Jason Brown (Highland Park)
Figure Skating, age 19
Jason is a student at the University of Colorado, Colorado Springs. He has won medals in both national and world championships. This is his first Olympics.
Kendall Coyne (Palos Heights)
Hockey, age 21
Kendall attends Northeastern University in Boston. She is a member of the U.S. women’s national ice hockey team. This is her first Olympics.
Shani Davis (Chicago)
Speed Skating, age 31
Raised on Chicago’s south side, this will be Shani’s third Olympic Games. He is a two time Olympic Gold Medalist (2006, 2010) as well as a two time Olympic Silver Medalist (2006, 2010).
Aja Evans (Chicago)
Bobsled, age 25
Aja competed in track and field as a college athlete at the University of Illinois. She is part of an athletic family which includes her father, the first black national collegiate champion in swimming; her brother, a Minnesota Vikings player; and her uncle, former Cubs star Gary Matthews. This is her first Olympics.
Gracie Gold (Chatham)
Figure Skating, age 18
Gracie is the 2014 U.S. national champion. She has a fraternal twin sister who is also a competitive figure skater. This is her first Olympics.
Brian Hansen (Glenview)
Speed Skating, age 23
Brian won a silver medal as part of the team pursuit at his first Olympic games in 2010. He currently attends Marquette University.
Jonathan Kuck (Champaign):
Speed Skating, age 23
Jonathan is a physics major at the University of Illinois. He won his first silver medal in the team pursuit at the 2010 Olympic Games.
Emery Lehman (Oak Park)
Speed Skating, age 17
Emery is a senior at Oak Park and River Forest High School. He took up speed skating at age nine in an effort to improve his ice hockey skills. This is his first Olympics.
Patrick Meek (Northbrook)
Speed Skating, age 28
Patrick is an alumnus of the University of Utah. He comes from a family of avid speed skaters which includes his sister, father and grandfather. Meek participated in the 2006 and 2010 Olympic Trials and qualified for his first Olympics this past December. This is his first Olympics.
Ann Swisshelm (Chicago)
Curling, age 45
Ann competed at her first Olympic Games in 2002 and is a national and world curling champion. Ann began curling at age 10 and is a graduate of Drake University.
Olympic activities in the Land of Lincoln
Governor Pat Quinn wants you get up, get out and get active! Illinois has mile after magnificent mile of winter fun. Check out the Winter Season section of the Illinois Office of Tourism’s “Enjoy Illinois!” website for hundreds of great ideas.
And you don’t have to be a ski jumper or luger. Try ice climbing at Starved Rock State Park or eagle-watching in many locations.
There are many places in Illinois where you can play like an Olympian.
Downhill Skiing, Snowboarding, Tubing
Cross Country Skiing
A solitary and serene activity you can do anywhere there is snow. There are several sites in Cook County Forest Preserves, particularly near Palos Park and Willow Springs. In DuPage County, head to the Morton Arboretum.
To find cross country skiing locations across the state, visit the Illinois Department of Natural Resources.
Illinoisans have been ski jumping since 1905. In the 1920s, the Rockford Ski Club built a ramp by the Kishwaukee River which - by the 1940s - was the world’s most popular ski jumping ramp.
Dare to try ski jumping? Head to Fox River Grove. The Norge Ski Club hosted the 2011 National Ski Jumping Championships.
There are more than 100 great sledding hills in Illinois, which can be found by visiting: http://www.sledriding.com
- Allen Park (Ottawa)
- Steitz’s Resort (Antioch)
- Swallow Cliff (Palos Park, which once had toboggan slides)
- Mount Trashmore (Evanston)
- Warren Park (Chicago Park District – North Side)
Curling began in 16th Century Scotland and is growing in popularity. There are several rinks for curling in Illinois and several clubs where you can learn how to play.
- Chicago Curling Club (Northbrook)
- Exmoor Curling Club (Highland Park)
- Waltham Curling Club (Triumph in LaSalle County)
- Oak Park Curling Club (plays at Exmoor)
- Northwestern Curling Club (plays at Northbrook)
- Wilmette Curling Club (plays at Exmoor)
Based at the Northbrook Sports Center, the Northbrook Speedskating Club has been called a “pipeline to the Olympics”. In fact, two of their members – Mitch Whitmore and Brian Hanson – will be in Sochi.
The Franklin Park Speedskating Club is based at the Franklin Park Ice Rink.
Glen Ellyn Speedskating (now in its 75th year) skates at Addison Ice Rink
Evanston Speed Skating Club, Evanston
Champaign Regional Speedskating skaters can be found at the University of Illinois Ice Arena. They will host the Land of Lincoln Championships in March.
Rinks for Hockey, Figure Skating
There are dozens of ice rinks across Illinois: