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.
“We celebrate the Olympic athletes from across Illinois who are at the pinnacle of success, and we salute their coaches, families and friends for all the sacrifices they’ve made to support them,” Governor Quinn said. “As our athletes showcase their talents to the world, we also invite people to enjoy great winter tourism attractions right here in the Land of Lincoln.”
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, hockey, age 22 (Buffalo Grove): 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, figure skating, age 19 (Highland Park): 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, hockey, age 21 (Palos Heights): 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, speed skating, age 31 (Chicago): 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, bobsled, age 25 (Chicago): 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, figure skating, age 18 (Chatham): 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, speed skating, age 23 (Glenview): 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, speed skating, age 23 (Champaign): 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, speed skating, age 17 (Oak Park): 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, speed skating, age 28 (Northbrook): 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, curling, 45 (Chicago): 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.
To learn more about our Illinois Olympic competitors and where you can snowboard, ski jump, ice skate or go sledding in Illinois, visit www.illinois.gov/olympics. The website also lists non-Olympic activities, such as eagle-watching in several locations across the state and ice-climbing at Starved Rock State Park.