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February 06. 2014 9:19PM

Granite foundation at Sochi


With the Caucasus Mountains as a backdrop, Laconia, N.H., native Chas Guldemond soars above a hill at during a snowboard training session before the start of the Sochi 2014 Winter Olympic Games at Extreme Park in Krasnaya Polyana, Russia. (USA TODAY Sports)

From returning gold medalist Bode Miller of Franconia and Hannah Kearney of Hanover High and Dartmouth College to first-time Olympians such as Laconia native Chas Guldemond and fellow freeskiing slopestyle specialist Julia Krass, a Hanover High School junior, New Hampshire ties abound on the U.S. team scheduled to march in the opening ceremonies to the Olympic Winter Games in Sochi, Russia, Friday night.

In all all, 16 American Olympians with strong Granite State ties are in Sochi, with three hockey players joining a group otherwise composed of ski- or snowboard-equipped athletes.

Before the torch was lit, Kearney began her gold-medal defense by finishing first in freestyle moguls qualifying, automatically advancing to Saturday's semifinal round.

Guldemond also helped the Games get started on Thursday, finishing as the top American in his heat, fourth overall, in the men's slopestyle quarterfinals.

Kearney underlined her status as favorite for the women's freestyle moguls by leading the first 10 qualifiers into the final in the evening twilight at the Rosa Khutor Extreme Park on Thursday.

The 27-year-old Kearney plunged around the bumps and down the 247-meter slope in 30.14 seconds to earn 23.05 points and pip Canadian sisters Chloe and Justine Dufour-Lapointe, who were awarded 22.64 and 22.28 points for second and third.

Guldemond just missed a top-four finish in his heat, which would have advanced him straight to the final round. He'll compete in the semifinals on Saturday, with the finals to follow later that day.

Competing in the first of two heats Thursday, Guldemond was in second place after his first run, with a score of 86.0. His second run earned him only a 19.25, with the better of the two scores counting.

Norway's Staale Sandbech (94.5), Canada's Sebastien Toutant (87.25) and Great Britain's Jamie Nicholls all passed him with their second run, and first-run leader Peetu Piiroinen of Finland (90.75) easily held on to a top-four finish.

"I definitely had a good time this morning until I just got bumped out on that last run, which was very disappointing, but I've got to stay positive and move on to semi-day," Guldemond told Reuters.

"Obviously I wanted to make that top four cut and it didn't work out, I just need to clean things up a little bit. But nothing ever came easy to me, but when it happened I thought, 'OK, I've seen this before!'"

Here's a guide to following New Hampshire's Olympians during the remainder of the Games:

Alpine skiing

Feb. 9-10, 12, 14-16, 18-19, 21-22

David Chodunsky, Hanover: A graduate of Dartmouth College, he was the NCAA slalom champion in 2005, an NCAA overall champion in 2007 and a U.S. slalom champion in 2009.

Julia Ford, Holderness: She is making her first Olympic Games appearance. She will compete for a start in the women's downhill and super-G. She spent three seasons on the Nor Am and Europa Cup tours. She is a two-time gold medal downhill winner (2011, 2012) in the U.S. National Championships.

Bode Miller, Franconia: Miller has won five Olympic Games medals. He captured two silver medals at the 2002 Winter Olympics in Salt Lake City and a gold, silver and bronze medal in Vancouver in 2010. He is coming off knee surgery and is set to become the first American skier to compete in five Olympic Games.

Mikaela Shiffrin, Lyme: She won the 2012-13 World Cup season title in the slalom. Shiffrin, who lived in Lyme from 2003-08, also is a former World Championship slalom title winner.
Leanne Smith, Conway: In the 2010 United States championships, she won the gold medal in the downhill. In the 2010 Olympics, she finished 18th in the super-G and 21st in super-combined. She finished 12th in the downhill at the 2013 World Championships. She skied as a freshman for the University of New Hampshire.
Trace Cummings Smith, Hanover: Currently a junior on the Dartmouth College ski team, Smith was fourth in the FIS slalom in Waterville Valley, fifth in the slalom in Val St. Come, Quebec, and, sixth in the Eastern Cup giant slalom in Burke, Vt.

Ice Hockey

Feb. 20, 22-23

Dustin Brown, Manchester Monarchs: The captain of the Los Angeles Kings, Brown, of Ithaca, N.Y., played one year (2004-2005) for the Kings' AHL affiliate in Manchester. The forward helped the Kings to the Stanley Cup in 2012.

Hilary Knight, Hanover: She was a member of the silver medal team at the Vancouver Games in 2010. Knight led the University of Wisconsin to NCAA Division I national championships in 2009 and 2011.

Jonathan Quick, Manchester Monarchs: Currently the starting goalie for the Los Angeles Kings, Quick, of Milford, Conn., played for their AHL affiliate in Manchester in 2008-09. He won an Olympic silver medal in 2010 with the U.S. team in Vancouver and led the Kings to the Stanley Cup in 2012 as the Conn Smythe Trophy winner.

James van Riemsdyk, University of New Hampshire: Van Riemsdyk played two seasons at UNH, from 2007-09, before signing with the Philadelphia Flyers to begin his NHL career. He is now in his second season with Toronto.

Cross-Country Skiing

Feb. 8-9, 11, 13-16, 19, 22-23

Kris Freeman, Andover/Thornton: This is his fourth appearance in the Olympic Games. He made his debut in 2002 when he helped the United States to a fifth-place finish in the relay. In the 2013 World Championship, Freeman helped the United States relay team to a 10th-place finish.

Ida Sargent, Hanover: She made her World Cup debut in 2010 and finished 39th overall in the 2012-2013 standings. Sargent placed fifth in the 2012 World Cup in the Czech Republic and again during a test event in Sochi last year.

Freestyle Skiing

Feb. 8, 10-11, 13-14, 17-18, 20-21

Hannah Kearney, Hanover: A Norwich, Vt., resident who starred in girls' soccer at Hanover High and now attends Dartmouth College, Kearney is better known for her moguls gold medal in Vancouver and 40 World Cup medals. She is the defending World Cup overall moguls and World Championships moguls gold medalist, as well as a three-time U.S. champion.

Julia Krass, Hanover: Krass had fourth-place finishes at three Nor-Am Cup stops in 2013 and placed fifth at the 2013 FIS Junior World Ski Championships.

Biathlon

Feb. 8-11, 13-14, 16-17, 19, 21-22

Sean Doherty, Conway: At 17, he is the youngest member of the U.S. biathlon team. Last year he won a gold medal and two silver medals at the World Youth and Junior Championships, held in Obertilliach, Austria.

Ski Jumping

Feb. 9, 11, 15, 17

Nick Fairall, Andover: Fairall, who made his World Cup debut in 2009, had his best World Cup finish in March of 2013 when he made his longest jump (208 meters) in Planica, Slovenia. In Aug. 2013, Fairall won his first-ever national title in the large hill. He won the U.S. Olympic Trials in December, earning his first Olympic berth.

Snowboarding

Feb. 8-9, 11-12, 16-17, 19, 22

Chas Guldemond, Laconia: In the X Games in 2011, he won a gold medal in Tignes, France. In the world snowboard tour rankings, he is ranked 13th in slopestyle.

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Biographical information from www.nbcolympics.com, www.dewtour.com, www.usskiteam.com and ussnowboarding.com was used in this report. Reporting from Sochi is by Reuters.


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