Gold rush

Winter Olympics spotlight shines on UND alum athletes and support staff

Olympics

The XXII Winter Games concluded this weekend in PyeongChang. All eight current or former UND hockey players, as well as curler Joe Polo, who also studied at UND, made their respective countries burst with pride. Image courtesy of UND Athletics.

For eight current and former North Dakota hockey standouts and one alumni curler, the 2018 Winter Olympics in South Korea were an opportunity to prove their mettle.

And for most of them, it was also an opportunity to win a medal.

The XXII Winter Games concluded this weekend in PyeongChang and all eight current or former UND hockey players, as well as curler Joe Polo, who also studied at UND, made their respective countries burst with pride.

Throughout, the University of North Dakota was pretty darn proud, too.

In fact, if UND and its Olympic alumni were their own nation, they would’ve made quite an impression as they marched around the stadium for Sunday’s closing ceremonies in South Korea.

UND boasted no fewer than 12 alumni – a dynamo dozen, if you will – who competed or served in some sort of official support capacity at the Winter Olympics this year. That number would have dwarfed many of the actual national delegations represented in PyeongChang. UND also had 12 alumni with Olympic connections in the last Winter Games in Sochi, Russia.

Team UND’s seven total medals earned (3 gold, 1 silver and 3 bronze) would have tied Finland in the final medal count, and would have surpassed the number won by Great Britain, Belarus, Slovakia and 70 other countries that sent delegations to this year’s games.

Lamoureuxs

Alumnae twin sisters Jocelyne and Monique Lamoureux became the first born-and-raised North Dakotans to win Olympic gold in any sport in PyeongChang.

Double domination

For sisters Jocelyne Lamoureux-Davidson and Monique Lamoureux-Morando, who starred at North Dakota from 2010-11 to 2012-13, history came with becoming the first born-and-raised North Dakotans to win Olympic gold in any sport. Both played central roles in the United States’ stirring 3-2 overtime win over Canada in the final, with Monique tying the game in the waning moments of the third period and Jocelyne delivering the game-winner with a monumental shootout goal.

It represented the peak of the mountain after a four-year climb for the Lamoureuxs, who were forced to settle for silver medals with heart-wrenching losses to Canada in each of the two previous Olympic games in Sochi and Vancouver.

Team USA Women, including the Lamoureuxs, celebrate Olympic gold after defeating their rivals from Team Canada.

Team USA Women, including the Lamoureuxs, celebrate Olympic gold after defeating their rivals from Team Canada.

In the aftermath, both sisters took center stage globally with a whirlwind media blitz and worldwide acclaim. That full-on blitz continues this week for the Grand Forks twins and their teammates. They landed in Los Angeles Monday just in time to make an appearance on the nationally syndicated Ellen Show with Ellen DeGeneres.

Their Ellen appearance will air this afternoon at 3 p.m. on local NBC affiliates. A date with the Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon also looms (set to air March 5).  On Monday night, the Lamoureuxs and Team USA were honored by the Los Angeles Kings and their fans. They’ll continue their victory tour around America with several other NHL arena stops and visit to the nation’s capital and a Team USA Soccer match.

Joe Polo

UND alum Joe Polo’s (far left on the medal stage) new-found gold will go nicely with the bronze he earned at the 2006 Olympics in Turin, Italy.

Curling is cool

Joe Polo

Polo sports his school colors in South Korea.

Joe Polo, a native of Cass Lake, Minn., who now lives in Duluth, Minn., was not a UND athlete during his days at the University, but he did spend his fair share of time on the ice. Polo was an alternate on this year’s Team USA Olympic team, which defeated Team Sweden in thrilling fashion for its first-ever gold medal.

Polo’s new-found gold will go nicely with the bronze he earned at the 2006 Olympics in Turin, Italy.

His team made curling cool at the 2018 games, attracting new followers across the world, and at least one celebrity in 1980’s TV star, “Mr. T.”  The mohawked muscleman sent the U.S. curlers, including Polo, Twitter tweets of encouragement and a pep talk through voicemail before its championship match against Sweden.

In addition to Polo’s Olympic legacy, he is a six-time U.S. men’s national champion.

Polo and his wife, Kristin, have one daughter, Ailsa, who is named after the sacred Scottish island where granite for curling rocks are honed.

Chay Genoway

Former UND All-American hockey player Chay Genoway takes in the opening ceremonies of the PyeongChang Winter Olympics with fellow Team Canada members.

Genoway’s journey

For Chay Genoway, the road to a bronze medal with his native Canada was a more unlikely – albeit every bit as satisfying – story. After a standout career at UND in which he was an All-American defenseman, Genoway played one NHL game with the Minnesota Wild. In the six years since, Genoway’s career path has taken him from Houston to Russia to Finland and back to Russia, where he currently plays for Tolyatti of the KHL (Russia’s NHL equivalent).

With the NHL declining to send its players to the Olympics, the likes of Genoway and other professional journeymen were called upon to represent their countries. Genoway played in every game for Canada, logging heavy minutes throughout on the way to a 6-4 win over the Czech Republic in Saturday’s bronze medal game.

Genoway became the 13th UND men’s hockey player to medal at the Olympics and the first to win a bronze.

Michelle Karvinen

Former UND women’s hockey star Michelle Karvinen (right) celebrate her bronze medal from the PyeongChang games, with her hero, world hockey legend and fellow Fin, Teemu Selanne.

Fab Fins

Genoway’s wasn’t the only bronze medal by former UND hockey players, as former letter winners Michelle Karvinen, Emma Nuutinen and Susanna Tapani also did it for Finland in the women’s tournament. It was the second such Olympic bronze for Karvinen, who also won one in 2010 in Vancouver. She finished this year’s games as her team’s leading scorer.

Ludvig Hoff

Ludvig Hoff

Hoff was the only current student-athlete representing UND in either tournament, playing for his native Norway. After sitting out the first two games of the tournament, the Oslo native got into the lineup the rest of the way, including a stunning 2-1 upset of Slovenia in the qualifying round.

That victory, which sent the Norwegians into the quarterfinals, was Norway’s first Olympic win since 1994 – when Hoff’s father was on the team.

It was also noteworthy for another reason: Hoff was the first active UND men’s hockey player to compete in the Olympics since Dave Christian was a member of the United States’ famed “Miracle on Ice” gold-medal-winning squad.

Hoff was back in the lineup for UND later in the same week, having met with his teammates in Oxford, Ohio on Thursday night in time for the Fighting Hawks’ NCHC game against Miami on Friday.

The sophomore forward was all smiles upon his return, as were the masses of UND hockey fans everywhere.

Finally, Johanna Fallman, a former UND player on defense, competed this year for her native Sweden, which did not medal. Fallman was a dominant player at UND on the ice and in the classroom, earning a spot on the WCHA All-Academic Team as well as other scholar athlete honors.

Fallman, who holds a psychology degree from UND, cites Team USA stars and former UND teammates Jocelyne and Monique Lamoureux as her biggest influences.

UND School of Medicine & Health Sciences physician Phil Johnson was the team doctor for the U.S. Men's Olympic ice hockey team in PyeongChang. Photo by Jeff Vinnick/HHOF-IIHF Images.

UND School of Medicine & Health Sciences physician Phil Johnson was the team doctor for the U.S. Men’s Olympic ice hockey team in PyeongChang. Photo by Jeff Vinnick/HHOF-IIHF Images.

The rundown

Here’s a rundown of other UND alumni and their connections to the 2018 Winter Games in PyeongChang:

  • Philip K. Johnson, team doctor, USA Hockey
  • Jason Switzer, athletic trainer, U.S. Ski and Snowboarding Team
  • Andy Parr, production engineer, NBC Sports

UND Men’s Hockey Olympic Medalists

  • 1952: John Noah (USA, silver)
  • 1956: Gordon Christian (USA, silver), Dan McKinnon (USA, silver), Ken Purpur (USA, silver)
  • 1972: Mike Curran (USA, silver)
  • 1980: Dave Christian (USA, gold)
  • 1992: Dave Tippett (CAN, silver)
  • 1994: Greg Johnson (CAN, silver)
  • 2002: Ed Belfour (CAN, gold)
  • 2010: Zach Parise (USA, silver), Jonathan Toews (CAN, gold)
  • 2014: Jonathan Toews (CAN, gold)
  • 2018: Chay Genoway (CAN, bronze)

UND Women’s Hockey Olympic Medalists

-UND Athletics Sports Information Director Jayson Hajdu and UND Today Senior Editorial Director David Dodds compiled the information for this report.