Detroit well represented during Winter Olympics

Metro Detroit athletes competing in hockey, figure skating, speed skating, snowboarding and ski jumping

Published On: Jan 24 2014 04:59:18 PM EST   Updated On: Jan 27 2014 05:25:06 PM EST
Kelly Gunther speed skater
DETROIT -

Sochi, Russia might be more than 5,500 miles away but there will be a strong Detroit presence at the Olympic games.

Metro Detroiters will be competing in figure skating, speed skating, snowboarding, ski jumping and hockey.

Figure Skating

In all, metro Detroit has seven athletes competing in figure skating in Sochi Russia.

Long-time ice dance partners Meryl Davis and Charlie White will be chasing their dreams of Olympic gold in Sochi Russia.   The pair won a silver medal at the 2010 Winter Olympics.  

Davis and White have skated together for 17 years.   Davis and White are six-time US Figure Skating Champions, in 2011 they became the first American team to win the World Ice Dancing Championships.  They won the world title again in 2013.  

They train at the Arctic Edge of Canton alongside their biggest rivals, Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir of Canada who won the gold medal at the 2010 games.

Also training in Canton and competing in ice dance the Olympics are Maia and Alex Shibutani.   This is the first winter games for the brother-sister team.    The Ann Arbor natives have skated together for 10 years.

The dance duo won bronze medals at both their Grand Prix skating events in 2013.

Madison Chock and Evan Bates are the third U.S. ice dance team competing in Russia.  They train at the Skating Club of Novi. Chock and Bates are the 2013 US silver medalists and won bronze at their Grand Prix events in 2013.  

In the Men's figure skating competition is returning Olympian Jeremy Abbott.

Abbott is a four-time US Figure Skating Champion who trains at the Detroit Skating Club in Bloomfield Hills.  

While he is from Colorado, Abbott says he carries a lot of Detroit pride and feels adopted by the area. 

"I love that we're kind of an underdog city because I've always been an underdog myself in my own career," said Abbott.  

The 28-year-old is competing in his second Olympic games.  He was on the US team in 2010 and came in ninth for Men's figure skating.

Speed Skating

There are three metro Detroit women in speed skating, both long and short track distances.

Jessica Smith, of Melvindale, will compete in three events for women's short track, the 500 meter, 1000 meter and 1500 meter.  Smith, 30, has 12 World Cup Medals and was an alternate in Vancouver but never competed.

Smith got her start in inline speed skating before switching to short track speed skating.   She also played ice hockey to help with her inline skating training.  

Kelly Gunther qualified for the 1000 meters in long track speed skating.   Gunther calls herself 'The Comeback Kid' because she overcame a devastating injury, nearly losing her foot in 2010.  

The Chippewa Valley High School graduate lived in Clinton Township and started her skating career first figure skating, then inline speed skating before switching to long track speed skating.  She made the switch because inline skating is not an Olympic sport and it has been her dream since she was six to compete in an Olympics.

Smith and Gunther are close friends.  The two met while competing in inline speed skating in metro Detroit.

Jilleanne Rookard, of Woodhaven, will compete in the 3000 meter in long track speed skating.  This is Rookard's second Olympic games, she raced in the 1500 meter and 3000 meter races in the 2010 Winter Olympics.

Rookard began her career in quad skating, figure skating and then inline speed skating before moving to long track speed skating. Rookard's family still owns a roller rink in metro Detroit, Skateland of Woodhaven.  

Ski Jumping

This is the first winter games in which women's ski jumping is a sport.  Lindsey Van, who was born in metro Detroit, is considered one of the athletes who fought hard to see women's ski jumping become an Olympic event.

Snowboarding

Milford has two Olympians making the trip to Sochi Russia.

Karly Piper Shorr will compete in Women's Slopestyle.  Shorr was originally a gymnast but then followed her brothers into snowboarding.

Danny Davis is also competing in snowboarding and doing the Men's Halfpipe.

Hockey

Red Wings coach Mike Babcock will be coaching Canada's hockey team, hoping to have a repeat of the 2010 games where the team won the gold medal.  

Red Wings goal tender Jimmy Howard is playing for Team USA.  Ryan Kesler, of Livonia, Cam Fowler from Farmington, and Ryan Miller from East Lansing are also on Team USA.

Red Wings forward Pavel Datsyuk will play for Russia, Henrik Zetterberg, Johan Franzen, Daniel Alfredsson, Jonathan Ericsson, Niklas Kronwall and Jonas Gustavsson will all play for Sweden.

Forwards Tomas Tatar and Tomas Jurco will play for Slovakia.

Former Red Wings Steve Yzerman is the Executive Director of the Canadian Team.

For the full list of U.S. Olympic athletes, click here.