Minnesotans of all stripes thrive in Olympic Games

  • Article by: JIM SOUHAN , Star Tribune
  • Updated: August 11, 2012 - 1:06 AM

Nine of the 14 Team USA athletes with Minnesota ties competing in London are guaranteed to earn medals.

hide

Lindsay Whalen might be the most Minnesotan of the state’s native (or transplanted) Olympians.

Photo: Nick Wass, Associated Press

CameraStar Tribune photo galleries

Cameraview larger

LONDON - Jerry Seinfeld joked that sports fans cheer for laundry: jerseys worn by a procession of mercenaries.

During the Olympics, we cheer for local ZIP codes, and Minnesotans are thriving in London. In all, nine of the 14 Team USA athletes with Minnesota ties who are competing in London are guaranteed to earn medals. Minnesotans are cheering for their success -- and following the Olympics overall -- in major numbers when compared to the rest of the country. NBC's Twin Cities affiliate (KARE-11) ranked second behind only Denver in local TV ratings during prime-time coverage of the first six nights of the Olympics, though the numbers dropped off some in week two.

The locals we are rooting for range from tried-and-true Minnesotans to former Minnesotans to temporary Minnesotans to quasi-Minnesotans. Three Minnesota Lynx players appear headed for basketball gold, as does Timberwolves star Kevin Love. Hugh McCutcheon, the future Gophers coach, is leading a team featuring former Gopher and team captain Lindsey Berg that is favored to win Saturday's gold medal match for U.S. women's volleyball. Eden Prairie's Rachel Bootsma took home a gold medal in swimming, St. Paul's Susie Scanlan won a bronze in team epee, Gophers diver Kelci Bryant took a silver, and Megan Kalmoe, who was born in Minneapolis, won a bronze in rowing.

Lindsay Whalen might be the most Minnesotan of the Minnesotans. She grew up in Hutchinson, transformed the Gophers basketball program, married a fellow U athlete, stars for the Lynx, lives in downtown Minneapolis and plans to settle in the Twin Cities.

Of all the athletes with Minnesota ties asked about their real or adoptive home state, Whalen was the only one whose eyebrows leaped.

"I stay in touch with Lindsey Berg, through Twitter,'' she said. "I'm here with two teammates, which is great, and I get a chance to say hello to Kevin Love once in a while. I'm keeping track of the Russians, because they have two Wolves [Andrei Kirilenko and Alexey Shved].''

Creative use of 'hometown'

But cheering for hometown athletes at the Olympics can require a creative definition of the word "hometown.''

Berg attended the University of Minnesota and can't remember the last time she visited. She was born in Honolulu, lives in California and has spent her adult life competing overseas. Asked if she had connected with Minnesotans during the Games, Berg looked confused, then said, "I caught up with Lindsay Whalen at the opening ceremonies. I really don't know anybody else.''

On NBC, the Olympics look like one big, athletic Disney World, with sport's increasingly small world replacing the "It's a Small World'' ride. TV conjures images of local athletes gathering for meals, and popping next-door to borrow a cup of Gatorade from Michael Phelps. On the ground, the London Olympics, like every Olympics, is about sprawl, and the transitory nature of sporting loyalties.

Berg's coach, McCutcheon, married Wiz Bachman of Lakeville and will take over the Gophers this fall. He's a New Zealander who attended BYU and lives in Anaheim. Kalmoe was born in Minneapolis, grew up in St. Croix Falls, Wis., attended the University of Washington and lives in New Jersey. Former Duluth East runner Kara Goucher was born in New York, attended Colorado and moved to Portland to live and train. BMX racer Alise Post was born and raised in St. Cloud and moved to San Diego to train.

Bryant grew up in Illinois and moved around the country to work with coach Wenbo Chen. When Chen took a job at the U, Bryant became a Gopher, although she left the team to concentrate on the Olympics.

A couple of the Minnesota medals are hardly the stuff that inspired "Chariots of Fire.'' Bootsma received a gold for swimming in the prelims of the 400-meter medley relay. More accomplished swimmers took over to win the final. Scanlan was part of a four-person team that won bronze in the team epee competition, but she ceded her place in the final, which required three competitors.

Nation over state

An overflow crowd at the St. Cloud Public Library gathered Friday to watch a live feed of Post competing, hanging on her every move as a crash prevented her from moving past the semifinals. But many Minnesota athletes in London think far more of nation than of state, when they dare think outside their event.

"I've been trying to keep my head on and not worry too much about what's been going on,'' Post said.

Told of Minnesota successes, she said, "That's good to hear. It's news to me.''

Whalen doesn't need much reason to take pride in an athlete from her home state.

"That's why you're here,'' she said. "You're representing your country, your state, your town, your family. That's why you want to do so well.''

Staff writer Rachel Blount contributed to this story.

  • get related content delivered to your inbox

  • manage my email subscriptions

ADVERTISEMENT

Denver 28 4th Qtr 1:14
Cincinnati 37
Buffalo 12/28/14 12:00 PM
New England
Carolina 12/28/14 12:00 PM
Atlanta
Cleveland 12/28/14 12:00 PM
Baltimore
Dallas 12/28/14 12:00 PM
Washington
Indianapolis 12/28/14 12:00 PM
Tennessee
Detroit 12/28/14 12:00 PM
Green Bay
Jacksonville 12/28/14 12:00 PM
Houston
San Diego 12/28/14 12:00 PM
Kansas City
NY Jets 12/28/14 12:00 PM
Miami
Chicago 12/28/14 12:00 PM
Minnesota
Philadelphia 12/28/14 12:00 PM
NY Giants
New Orleans 12/28/14 12:00 PM
Tampa Bay
Oakland 12/28/14 3:25 PM
Denver
Arizona 12/28/14 3:25 PM
San Francisco
St. Louis 12/28/14 3:25 PM
Seattle
Cincinnati 12/28/14 7:30 PM
Pittsburgh
Denver 82 FINAL
Charlotte 110
Portland 95 FINAL
Houston 110
Utah 97 FINAL
Memphis 91
Toronto 120 FINAL
Chicago 129
Atlanta 105 FINAL
Dallas 102
LA Clippers 118 FINAL
San Antonio 125
Sacramento 50 3rd Qtr
Golden State 64
Ottawa 1 FINAL
Washington 2
Nashville 5 FINAL
Columbus 1
Pittsburgh 3 FINAL(SO)
Florida 4
Arizona 1 3rd Prd
Vancouver 5
San Jose 0 3rd Prd
Anaheim 1
Calgary 0 2nd Prd 12:55
Los Angeles 3
Ark-Little Rock 64 FINAL
Bradley 54
Brown 67 FINAL
Central Conn St 55
Stetson 59 FINAL
Florida State 63
Ill-Chicago 46 FINAL
Northwestern 63
Ohio 49 FINAL
George Washington 77
Southern Utah 61 FINAL
Ark-Pine Bluff 70
Elon 67 FINAL
Kennesaw St 65
Dartmouth 49 FINAL
Penn State 69
Green Bay 70 FINAL
UC Irvine 72
DePaul 68 FINAL
Colorado 82
Lewis & Clark 49 FINAL
Portland 71
SC State 59 FINAL
Abilene Christian 65
Manhattan 71 FINAL
Fordham 57
Truett-McConnell 57 FINAL
Ga Southern 90
Citadel 56 FINAL
Michigan State 82
Miami-Ohio 55 FINAL
Ohio State 93
Gardner-Webb 89 FINAL
Purdue 84
Idaho 68 FINAL
Northern Ky 81
Fairfield 66 FINAL
Albany 77
North Dakota St 61 FINAL
Alcorn State 50
UT Martin 37 FINAL
Butler 64
SE Louisiana 65 FINAL
UCF 70
Oakland 60 FINAL
Clemson 70
Florida A&M 57 FINAL
East Carolina 75
Eastern Ky 66 FINAL
Fla Atlantic 69
IUPU-Ft Wayne 43 FINAL
Illinois State 68
Norfolk State 74 FINAL
James Madison 71
Binghamton 68 FINAL
Mount St Marys 69
Towson 56 FINAL
Navy 61
Long Island 73 FINAL
New Hampshire 72
Northern Ill 66 FINAL
Notre Dame 91
William & Mary 62 FINAL
Old Dominion 69
Liberty 47 FINAL
Princeton 65
Delaware 81 FINAL
Robert Morris 84
MD-Eastern Shore 82 FINAL
St Bonaventure 80
Colgate 43 FINAL
Syracuse 78
Kansas 52 FINAL
Temple 77
Mercer 54 FINAL
Tennessee 64
East Tenn St 60 FINAL
VA Commonwealth 84
Va Military 74 FINAL
Virginia Tech 87
Bucknell 53 FINAL
Wake Forest 60
Alabama A&M 62 FINAL
Western Mich 71
New Orleans 59 FINAL
Indiana 79
Columbia 65 FINAL
Connecticut 80
Long Beach State 49 FINAL
St Johns 66
Wofford 44 FINAL
West Virginia 77
Southern U 66 FINAL
Baylor 70
UAB 67 FINAL
Chattanooga 83
Char Southern 54 FINAL
Colorado State 75
North Florida 70 FINAL
Iowa 80
NC Central 67 FINAL
Jackson State 64
Rice 72 FINAL
Lamar 79
Central Mich 89 FINAL
McNeese State 56
Coppin State 56 FINAL
Michigan 72
Furman 76 FINAL
Minnesota 86
SE Missouri St 51 FINAL
Ole Miss 82
Weber State 51 FINAL
Oklahoma 85
Grambling St 39 FINAL
TCU 80
Loyola-Chicago 62 FINAL
Texas Tech 44
Incarnate Word 47 FINAL
Tulsa 76
Penn 50 FINAL
Vanderbilt 79
Chicago State 38 FINAL
SIU Edwardsville 63
Simpson 62 FINAL
Drake 84
Tenn Tech 81 FINAL
UMKC 60
Murray State 83 FINAL
Southern Ill 71
Oral Roberts 45 FINAL
Missouri State 52
Jacksonville St 65 FINAL
Air Force 66
Milwaukee 54 FINAL
Arkansas 84
Wisconsin 68 FINAL
California 56
Coll of Charleston 47 FINAL
LSU 71
North Dakota 54 FINAL
Marquette 67
Northern New Mexico 39 FINAL
New Mexico St 78
UC Santa Barbara 78 FINAL
Oregon 82
Miami-Florida 62 FINAL
Providence 76
Northeastern 68 FINAL
St Marys-CA 72
Kent State 75 FINAL
Texas-El Paso 78
UC Davis 73 FINAL
Northern Colorado 63
Lewis-Clark State 81 FINAL
Eastern Wash 87
Walla Walla 52 FINAL
Portland State 94
TX A&M-CC 56 2nd Half 5:12
Cal State Fullerton 65
Marshall 44 2nd Half 6:26
Nevada 73
Boise State 41 2nd Half 17:00
Houston 25
UC Riverside 10 Delayed 6:07
San Diego St 21
Tulane 26 1st Half 3:11
Washington 19
Loyola Marymount 16 1st Half 5:02
Wichita State 27
Nebraska 12/23/14 12:00 AM
Hawaii
BYU 48 FINAL
Memphis 55
Marshall 12/23/14 5:00 PM
Northern Ill
Navy 12/23/14 8:30 PM
San Diego St
Central Mich 12/24/14 11:00 AM
Western Ky
Fresno State 12/24/14 7:00 PM
Rice
Illinois 12/26/14 12:00 PM
Louisiana Tech
Rutgers 12/26/14 3:30 PM
North Carolina
NC State 12/26/14 7:00 PM
UCF
Cincinnati 12/27/14 12:00 PM
Virginia Tech
Duke 12/27/14 1:10 PM
(15) Arizona State
Miami-Florida 12/27/14 3:00 PM
So Carolina
Boston College 12/27/14 3:30 PM
Penn State
(25) Nebraska 12/27/14 7:00 PM
(24) USC
Texas A&M 12/29/14 1:00 PM
West Virginia
Oklahoma 12/29/14 4:30 PM
(18) Clemson
Arkansas 12/29/14 8:00 PM
Texas
UMass Lowell 63 FINAL
Holy Cross 78
Temple 59 FINAL
Villanova 64
Georgia Southern 68 FINAL
Southern U 52
Xavier 60 FINAL
Kennesaw St 61
Eastern Michigan 52 FINAL
Michigan 81
Brescia 56 FINAL
Marshall 127
(21) West Virginia 54 FINAL
Ohio State 96
UMBC 87 FINAL
MD-Eastern Shore 78
Cornell 79 FINAL
Loyola-Maryland 61
St Bonaventure 70 FINAL
Georgetown 64
New Hampshire 63 FINAL
Northeastern 62
Eastern Washington 67 FINAL
Florida 56
Rice 63 FINAL
Texas Southern 69
Butler 72 FINAL
Illinois State 60
UC Davis 59 FINAL
(16) Stanford 71
Washington St 87 FINAL
Loyola Marymount 60
Sacramento St 94 FINAL
San Jose St 97
SIU-Edwardsville 74 FINAL
UMKC 58
Oakland 92 FINAL
IUPU-Ft Wayne 84
Belmont 43 FINAL
(14) Georgia 62
George Mason 83 FINAL
Longwood 61
Kansas 81 FINAL
Creighton 84
Abilene Christian 53 FINAL
Kansas State 68
UT Martin 65 FINAL
Missouri 74
Hampton 67 FINAL
DePaul 86
Florida State 65 FINAL
Tulane 54
Murray State 44 FINAL
Illinois 64
Fla Gulf Coast 74 FINAL
Arkansas State 68
BYU 62 FINAL
Utah State 58

ADVERTISEMENT

question of the day

Poll: Do you like the Twins' offseason moves so far?

Weekly Question

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

Connect with twitterConnect with facebookConnect with Google+Connect with PinterestConnect with PinterestConnect with RssfeedConnect with email newsletters

ADVERTISEMENT

 
Close