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Editor’s note: This article was updated Feb. 7 with the freestyle skier representing Ireland.
SALT LAKE CITY — At least five members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints will compete in February’s 2018 Pyeongchang Games.
The short list of LDS athletes competing for Team USA includes Chris Fogt, of Alpine; Taylor Morris, Salt Lake City; Jerica Tandiman, Kearns; and Jessika Jenson, of Rigby, Idaho. A fifth Latter-day Saint, Brendan “Bubba” Newby, from Ireland and Orem, Utah, is representing Team Ireland.
A sixth Mormon, downhill skier Steve Nyman, blew out his knee training in Germany one week after he had qualified for his fourth Olympics and will not make the trip, NBC Sports reported.
If readers know of LDS athletes that will compete in the Games that have not been included in this list, please email email@example.com.
The Pyeongchang Games run from Feb. 9-25.
• Bobsled: This will be the 35-year-old Fogt’s third Olympic experience in the sport of bobsledding. His team finished 22nd in 2010 Vancouver Games and he won a bronze medal with pilot Steven Holcomb in the 2014 Games.
The son of a seminary teacher, Fogt graduated from American Fork High School and served an LDS mission in the Philippines before returning to run track at Utah Valley University. In addition to his representing his nation in the Olympics, Fogt has also served in the U.S. Army. In a 2014 interview with the Deseret News, Fogt said his unique experiences have helped him to stay committed to his faith.
“When you’re the guy who doesn’t drink, doesn’t cuss, there is almost more pressure,” Fogt said. “But I actually like it. It helps me follow what I know is true. It’s been great. I learned in the Army who I was and what I want in life. I think my testimony has grown a lot.”
When to watch: The bobsled events begin on Saturday, Feb. 17.
• Luge: This will be the first Olympic experience for Morris, 26, who competes in the singles luge event.
Morris, who is also a sergeant and human resource specialist in the U.S. Army, narrowly missed qualifying for the Olympics in 2014 but found redemption as he finished fifth last December at the 2017 World Championships. His emotions were near the surface as he spoke of reaching this goal, a U.S. Army article reported.
“It’s the biggest amount of redemption that you really could ever feel when you train for so long,” Taylor said in the article. “This is 16 years for me now, it means the world to have my family here — to have my home crowd cheering me on and wishing me the best.”
Morris, who hails from South Jordan, recently told the Deseret News how he became involved in the luge event at a young age.
“I knew at a young age, I wanted to be an Olympic athlete,” Morris said in the article. “This was an outlet to go do it.”
When to watch: The luge events begin on Friday, Feb. 9.
• Speed skating: Tandiman, 23, was inspired to start skating in 2002 at age 7 when the Utah Olympic Oval was built in the field near her home in Kearns, according to her Team USA bio. Now she’s on her way to South Korea to race in her first Games in the long track speedskating event.
Tandiman spoke of her earliest Olympic memories in a Q-and-A with NBCOlympics.com.
“The 2002 Olympics were my earliest memory of seeing the Olympics,” Tandiman said. “The speed skating events were held at the Oval, which was practically built in my backyard. I don’t remember a lot about the events, but I do remember watching the torch go through the Kearns High School parking lot. I didn’t then know that I would later be chasing an Olympic dream of my own, but watching that flame sparked something within me.”
Tandiman graduated from Kearns High School and attended BYU-Hawaii. Her family now lives in West Jordan, she told the WestJordanJournal.com.
“I am looking forward to representing Utah,” Tandiman said. “I have had so much support from people in my neighborhood and friends that have known me growing up. I think it is going to be a great experience. It will be fun and exciting.”
When to watch: Tandiman’s events will be Wednesday, Feb. 14 (1,000 meter) and Sunday, Feb. 18 (500 meter).
• Snowboard: Jenson, who will compete in the slopestyle and big air snowboarding events, is headed to her second Olympics.
The 26-year-old Idaho native finished 13th in slopestyle at the 2014 Sochi Games. She began snowboarding at a young age on weekend trips to a local ski resort with her family, Jenson told NBCOlympics.com.
“We pretended to know what we were doing. We eventually caught on,” Jenson said. “My passion for snowboarding grows more and more every year. I love what snowboarding has to offer, especially the adrenaline rush.”
Like Tandiman, Jenson was inspired after watching the 2002 Games in Salt Lake City, she told the Deseret News in 2016.
“Being an athlete competing in the Olympics was such an amazing opportunity and privilege to represent our country!” Jenson said in the article.
When to watch: Jenson’s events get underway on Sunday, Feb. 11 (slopestyle) and Monday, Feb. 19 (big air).
• Freestyle skiing: Newby, who was born in Ireland and moved with his family to Utah where he learned to ski, will represent Team Ireland in men’s freestyle skiing (halfpipe). The sport both scares and excites the 21-year-old, he told the Irishexaminer.com.
“Half-pipe is absolutely terrifying, I hated it growing up because it’s so scary,” Newby said in the article. “As I got older I started liking it better and now I actually like being scared! … I’ve blown both of my shoulders out, had surgery on my right and separated the left a couple of times.
“I’m not out there just throwing myself around,” he went on to say. “Yes, there’s a ton of adrenaline and the feeling you get when you throw a new trick and land it is insane! But I’m not there to do new stuff just for fun. I’m there to push my skiing to the next level.”
Newby has been living, working and training at the Utah Olympic Park in Park City. His family is going to support him in South Korea.
In representing Ireland, Newby hopes to promote skiing among the young people in the Emerald Isle, he told offtheball.com.
“The reason I switched to skiing for Ireland is because growing up in Park City (Utah), you’ve got Winter Olympians and Olympians everywhere. You’ve got role-models to see on the hill and Ireland doesn’t really have that,” Newby said in the article. “And, I can go to the Olympics and I can bring the stoic I see everyday in Park City to Ireland and gets some kids fired up to ski — I think that’d be pretty cool.”
When to watch: Newby’s event starts Tuesday, Feb. 20.
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