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A close eye on Olympics

Sadie and Erik Bjornsen, niece and nephew of Sandy Tubbs of Alexandria, are competing in the 2014 Sochi WInter Olympics. They're pictured here during a World Cup race in Italy earlier this year. (Contributed)

A local woman has been closely tuned in to Olympics coverage this winter. She’s keeping her eyes peeled for glimpses of two family members.

Sandy Tubbs of Alexandria has a niece and nephew, Sadie and Erik Bjornsen, competing in the Sochi 2014 Winter Olympics.

“It’s been so exciting watching them and following them,” she told the Echo Press on Wednesday.

Sadie, 24, and Erik, 22, are both competing in cross country skiing races.

They’re from Winthrop, Washington, and their mother is Sandy’s youngest sister.

Tubbs said, “As a family, they’ve been cross-country skiing since they were knee-high and could stand up.”

During their races in Sochi, Sadie placed 18th of 80 women competing in the ladies’ 10 kilometer (K) Classic race. She also took part in the ladies’ relay 4x5K and the team took ninth place.

Individually, Erik placed 38th in the men’s 15K Classic and in team races, Erik and the U.S. Men’s team placed 11th in the men’s relay 4x10K; fifth in the men’s team Sprint Classic semifinals; and sixth of 20 teams in the men’s team Sprint Classic final.

“Countries like Norway and Germany are so strong in cross-country skiing, but for us, I think this is as good as the U.S. has ever done in Nordic skiing,” Tubbs said.


Tubbs has caught a few glimpses of Sadie and Erik during TV coverage of the Olympic games.

She saw Erik during Opening Ceremonies coverage. “There are 287 U.S. athletes and pretty soon, his mug was right there on the screen. I was like, ‘Oh my God, there he is!’”

Sadie had a race the next day and couldn’t participate in the opening ceremony, but Tubbs said she expects both to be in the closing ceremony.

Then, on February 14, Tubbs said, “I was watching NBC’s Today Show and the host, Natalie Morales, was talking about Day 7 of the Olympics and said, ‘Sadie Bjornsen chose unique apparel.’ [Sadie] was wearing a tank top and ski pants during her Classic ski because it had been so warm there [in Sochi].”

Then, on Sunday, she tuned in for the men’s relay and Erik had quite a bit of screen time.

“We’ve had multiple sightings of them.”

Tubbs said Sadie and Erik’s parents didn’t make the trip to Sochi. Instead, they caught up with their kids in Italy where both were skiing in a World Cup Race two weeks prior to the Olympics.

Their parents opted to go to Italy and spend time with Sadie and Erik there because they’re so heavily guarded at the Olympics, they wouldn’t have had a chance to spend much time with them, Tubbs explained.

However, they are getting up in the middle of the night to catch live race coverage when their kids compete.

Sadie and Erik are both students at Alaska Pacific University in Anchorage and Tubbs said they continue to take online classes during their training and Olympic races.

Also, they both compete on the U.S. World Cup teams.

Tubbs said, “These two young people are not only great skiers, they’re really exceptional young adults … they’re so considerate of family and just so grounded.

“And they both said that in four years they’re coming back.”

Amy Chaffins

Amy Chaffins is a journalist working for the Echo Press newspaper in Alexandria, Minnesota.

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