Minneapolis resident Brian Gregg was among seven men named Wednesday to the U.S. Olympic team for cross-country skiing. Afton native Jessie Diggins, already assured of a spot on the team, also was officially named to the seven-woman roster that will compete in Sochi, Russia.
Gregg, 29, grew up in Washington state and was an All-America in Nordic skiing at the University of Alaska Anchorage. He lives in north Minneapolis with his wife, Caitlin (Compton) Gregg, a 2010 Olympian in cross-country skiing. Earlier this month, Gregg finished second in the men’s 30-kilometer freestyle at the U.S. Championships in Soldier Hollow, Utah, and he has spent the past two weeks racing and training with top American skiers competing on the World Cup circuit in Europe.
U.S. coach Chris Grover said Gregg earned his first Olympic berth on the strength of his distance skiing. “He’s a guy that really excels in the longer distance races,’’ Grover said. “We have some excellent sprinters on the team, and we needed to balance them with some good long-distance guys.’’
Diggins, 22, is in her third season competing on the World Cup circuit, the sport’s highest level. The first-time Olympian won a bronze medal last month as the anchor of the U.S. women’s 4x5-kilometer relay team at an event in Lillehammer, Norway. Diggins and Olympic teammate Kikkan Randall won the team sprint at the 2013 world championships and have won World Cup gold in that event as well.
“She’s turning into an all-around contender,’’ Grover said. “It’s extremely exciting to watch her development. She’s had a meteoric rise.’’
Grover said he expects Gregg to race in the men’s 50k freestyle on the final day of the Olympics. He also could race in the 30k skiathlon. Diggins will race in the women’s freestyle sprint and is expected to anchor the 4x5k relay team; she also could compete in the 15k skiathlon and the 30k freestyle.
Gregg works with the Boys and Girls Clubs in north Minneapolis and is a member of Loppet Nordic Racing ski club.
U goalie honored
Gophers goalie Amanda Leveille, a sophomore from Kingston, Ontario, was named the WCHA’s defensive player of the week.
Leveille stopped 38 shots — 19 in each game — in 4-0 and 5-0 shutouts over Minnesota State Mankato in a home-and-home series. She is 22-1-1 overall with a 1.19 goals-against average and a .948 save percentage.
She is second in the nation with eight shutouts and has not allowed a goal 126 minutes, 41 seconds.