Olympians among us: Hometown athletes make a mark on international stage
FARGO — People all over the world pause every four years to celebrate the mastery — and to some the mystery — of the Winter Olympics. But cheering for these sports is more fun when you know there's a local connection to the games.
Our region can boast several Olympic athletes over the years. Here are just a few of the best known local people who have competed in past winter Olympics games or will compete this year.
Will Borgen, 2018 U.S. Men's Hockey
Will Borgen is a 2015 graduate of Moorhead High School and currently a junior at St. Cloud State University. Borgen says he was "surprised and excited" when he heard he had been selected to represent the United States at the 2018 Pyeongchang Winter Olympic Games in South Korea. He is technically the third Moorhead Spud to be part of the U.S. Olympic Men's Olympic hockey. (See Jason Blake and Matt Cullen below.) He credits local support for his success.
"It's all Moorhead hockey honestly," Borgen says. "It's every one of my coaches and (Moorhead Youth Hockey Arena manager) Dennis Bushy letting us skate for free and skating with pros like Matt Cullen and Chris VandeVelde. I've just been playing hockey in Moorhead. That's helped me with everything."
Jocelyne Lamoureax-Davidson and Monique Lamoureax-Morando, 2018 U.S. Women's Hockey
The Lamoureax twins, originally from Grand Forks, are the only North Dakotans listed on the U.S. Olympic team. But the powerhouse pair brings veteran experience to Pyeongchang. This is their third Olympic games, finishing with a silver in both the 2010 and 2014 Olympic games. They are the only two North Dakotans — male or female — to win two Olympic medals. Both excelled in soccer and cross country for Grand Forks Central High School as seventh and eighth graders. The sisters were first and second in the state in soccer scoring as eighth graders, but when renowned private Minnesota hockey school Shattuck-St. Mary's offered them scholarships, their attentions turned more fully to the ice.
After high school, the sisters played hockey at the University of Minnesota for one year and spent the last three years of their college career playing for the University of North Dakota. In 2016, they were inducted into the North Dakota Sports Hall of Fame.
"It's an amazing honor and very humbling," Jocelyne says. "We're proud of where we're from and it means a lot to us."
Mark Ladwig, 2010 U.S. Pairs Figure Skating
Mark Ladwig, a 1999 graduate of Moorhead High School and a member of the Red River Valley Figure Skating Club, was a long shot to make the 2010 Winter Olympics in Vancouver, Canada. But he and partner Amanda Evora punched their ticket to the games after skating their career best at U.S. Nationals in Spokane, Washington. They secured the No. 2 position on the Olympic pairs roster behind Caydee Denney and Jeremy Barrett. (Ladwig and Evora ended up besting Denney and Barrett at the games, getting 10th place ahead of their competitors' 14th place). Ladwig has since retired from competitive skating and now lives in Florida where he works for Jackson Ultima Skates.
Jason Blake and Matt Cullen, 2006 U.S. Men's Hockey
Jason Blake and Matt Cullen were the first two Moorhead Spuds chosen to represent Team USA in men's hockey (Blake played in the games in Turin, Italy, while Cullen was a reserve member of the team). Both men have had successful careers in the National Hockey League. Cullen is a three-time Stanley Cup champion and is currently the oldest active player in the NHL at the age of 41.
Dave Christian, 1980 U.S. Men's Hockey
Warroad, Minn., has earned the title "Hockeytown, USA." Despite having fewer than 2,000 residents, the town on the western shores of Lake of the Woods boasts seven Olympic ice hockey medalists. (This year, Warroad native Gigi Marvin will represent the U.S.women again at her third Olympics.) Other notables include Gordon, Bill and Roger Christian as well as 2014 star TJ Oshie.
But the best-known Warroad Olympian is Bill's son, Dave Christian, from the famed 1980 "Miracle on Ice" U.S. Men's Hockey Team. Christian, who attended the University of North Dakota, was part of the team of underdog college players who upset the the Soviet hockey juggernaut to eventually secure the gold medal in Lake Placid, New York. After a long NHL career, Christian settled in Moorhead where he coached hockey and worked for Fargo's Cardinal Glass Industries. Christian, now 58, lives in the Twin Cities area.
John Noah, 1952 U.S. Men's Hockey
John Noah was known by some as "the godfather of hockey in Fargo." The Crookston native was a member of the silver medal-winning U.S. team in 1952 and was the first All-American at the University of North Dakota. But Noah, who died at the age of 87 in 2015, might have been best known for his impact on youth hockey in Fargo, building the program from its infancy to today.