Others’ opinion: Minn. athletes steal the show in S. Korea

Published 8:01 am Wednesday, February 28, 2018

The Free Press, Mankato

Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.

Even the venerable New York Times couldn’t help getting caught up in our state’s Olympic exploits.

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“Team U.S.A.? More like Team Minnesota,” read the newspaper’s headline after the U.S. women’s hockey team beat Canada in overtime to take home the gold medal.

The squad included seven Minnesotans who were among a number of athletes with Minnesota ties who made Olympic headlines.

Oh, where to start.

Well, with the Mankato-born John Landsteiner, of course.

The 27-year-old grew up in Mapleton and now lives in Duluth. He still has close ties to the curling clubs in Mankato and Mapleton and his steady play helped propel the U.S. curling team to its first ever gold medal in the Olympics.

The team, led by John Shuster, a Chisolm native now living in Superior, Wis., beat Sweden 10-7.

Teammates Tyler George and alternate Joe Polo are from Duluth and Matt Hamilton is from Wisconsin. The team is coached by Phill Drobnick of Eveleth.

Landsteiner was in the Winter Olympics four years ago. But the gold, which came after a shaky start for the team, was a particular redemption for skipper Shuster. After failure at the previous two games, Shuster and his teammates found the third time the charm in South Korea.

While the curlers and women’s hockey team were stunning the crowds inside, Jessie Diggins, of Afton, was making history outside on the cross country ski course.

She and teammate Kikkan Randall became the first American women in Olympic history to medal in cross-country, capturing the gold after they overtook Sweden’s team.

Diggins was bestowed the honor of carrying the U.S. flag in the closing ceremonies.

Then there is Lindsey Vonn, a Minnesota native who learned her craft as a kid on Buck Hill in Burnsville.

Vonn took a bronze in downhill skiing, adding to her many career highlights. At 33, she also became the oldest woman to win an Olympic Alpine medal.

The number of athletes with Minnesota ties who took home gold medals was so significant that if Minnesota were a country, it would be tied with Italy for 12th place in the number of gold medals won.

Minnesotans may be noted for their stoic personality, but we know how to brag with the best of them when our own do well. And they did very well.