Maryland's Winter Olympians through the years

At the 2016 Summer Games in Rio de Janeiro, Maryland athletes were everywhere, winning close to everything. Including team and relay medals, athletes from the state took home 18 golds, four silvers and one bronze. Only four countries won as many gold medals as Maryland.

At this month’s Winter Games in Pyeongchang, South Korea, state pride will be harder to find. And it goes without saying that no Marylander is as famous as Michael Phelps.

But Maryland has a long, if undistinguished, history in the Winter Olympics. From Baltimore figure skater Monty Hoyt in the 1964 Games to Rockville ice hockey player Haley Skarupa in these Olympics, here are some of the state’s winter warriors.

 

Monty Hoyt (1964)

Sport: Figure skating

Birthplace: Baltimore, 1944

Background: The son of the director of the Office of War Information’s domestic branch during World War II and later the publisher of The Denver Post, Hoyt won the U.S. junior title in 1961. By chance, he was not among those aboard Sabena Flight 548, which crashed later that year near Brussels, killing 18 top U.S. figure skaters and 16 family members, coaches and officials. In 1962, Hoyt won the U.S. senior title; Bradley Lord, the previous champion, had been killed in the plane crash. Hoyt died of melanoma in 1997 at age 53.

Results: Hoyt placed sixth in the compulsory program and 12th in the free program, good for 10th overall and third among Americans at the Innsbruck Games.

Sandy Shellworth (1968)

Sport: Alpine skiing

Birthplace: Annapolis, 1944

Background: Her father graduated in 1935 from Navy after an injury-shortened football career, and moved with his wife and Sandy to Boise, Idaho, after World War II, later becoming mayor. Shellworth was a U.S. champion in slalom in 1963 and won the combined championship and the downhill title at the 1967 Roch Cup in Aspen, Colo., one of America’s most prestigious races. A month later, she won the national title in giant slalom, only to break her leg while practicing for the next day's downhill. She was a last-minute addition to the Olympic team after another member was hurt the day before the Grenoble Games’ opening ceremony.

Results: Shellworth finished 21st overall in downhill skiing, second among Americans, with a time of 1 minute, 46.53 seconds.

 

Kent Weigle (1976)

Sport: Ice dancing

Birthplace: Bethesda, 1955

Background: Ice dancing has been a U.S. Figure Skating Championships event since 1936 but did not make the Olympic program until four decades later. Weigle and partner Judi Genovesi, who together won silver at the 1973 U.S. junior championships, joined two other American mixed teams for the sport’s debut at the Innsbruck Games.

Results: With 168.26 points, teenagers Weigle and Genovesi finished 15th out of 18 competing pairs.

Sport: Ice dancing

Birthplace: Bethesda, 1957

Background: Summers started ice skating at age 11 when his family relocated to Winchester, Mass. He next moved to McLean, Va., training at rinks at Tysons Corner and in downtown Washington, and then to Wilmington, Del., where more ice time and better training were available. Summers and partner Stacy Smith won three straight national championships in ice dancing from 1978 to 1980 and placed ninth in 1978 and 1979 and eighth in 1980 in the world championships.

Results: Summers and Smith finished ninth in the 12-pair field at the Lake Placid Games.

 

John Wayne DeAtley (1984)

Sport: Bobsled

Birthplace: Takoma Park, 1958

Background: The Montgomery County native was a data-processing technician for the Navy, stationed in Virginia Beach, Va., when he and two-man partner Fred Fritsch qualified for the Sarajevo Games. The duo had trained for half a year, including six weeks in West Germany, before finishing second at the U.S. Olympic trials.

Results: DeAtley, the brakeman, and Fritsch, the driver, finished 17th overall among the 28 pairs with a four-run time of 3 minutes, 32.20 seconds.

J.P. Shilling (2002)

Sport: Speedskating

Birthplace: Baltimore, 1971

Background: Shilling was 6 when he was discovered at Baltimore’s Northwest Ice Rink, where the Maryland Speedskating Association was headquartered. Shilling was skating with his parents when a club coach asked whether he wanted to try speedskating. Shilling did, and enjoyed it so much, he decided to pursue the sport. By age 12, Shilling was competing in national races. After graduating from Dulaney, and a year at Essex Community College, he was accepted at the Olympic Educational Training Center at Northern Michigan, where he split time between his studies and his training. In 1995, competing in the short-track world team championships for the first time, he was on an American team that won a medal (bronze) for the first time. After thrice failing to qualify for the Winter Olympics, he secured a spot in the Salt Lake Games the day before his 30th birthday — barely. Shilling qualified for the fourth and final spot on the 1,500-meter team by one-hundredth of a second.

Results: Shilling finished 14th out of 48 in the 1,500, 2.34 seconds behind gold medalist and fellow American Derek Parra.

 

Philip Dulebohn (2002)

Sport: Pair skating

Birthplace: Silver Spring, 1973

Background: Dulebohn started skating in Germantown at about age 5, following his older brother. He took part in his first competition in 1989, and that year won the U.S. novice men’s title at the U.S. Figure Skating Championships in Baltimore. After transitioning to pairs, Dulebohn partnered with Tiffany Scott in 1996. Before qualifying for the Salt Lake Games, they finished second three times at the U.S. championships and as high as seventh at the world championships.

Results: Dulebohn and Scott finished 13th overall in the 20-pair competition.

Kimmie Meissner (2006)

Sport: Figure skating

Birthplace: Towson, 1989

Background: Meissner started with ballet at age 4, but after seeing her older brothers play ice hockey, she began taking lessons at the Baltimore Figure Skating Club a couple of years later. A strong and dedicated skater, she finished 16th in both the 2000 and 2001 U.S. junior championships at the novice and intermediate levels, respectively. But it wasn’t until she teamed with coach Pam Gregory in 2003 that her career took off. In 2004, she won the U.S. junior title and earned the silver medal at the world junior championships. The next year, she became only the second American woman to land a triple-axel jump in competition and placed third at the U.S. senior championships. In 2006, Meissner won gold at the world championships and silver at the U.S. championships, ensuring a spot at the Turin Games. As a 16-year-old junior at Fallston, she was the youngest athlete on the U.S. Olympic team.

Results: Meissner skated cleanly in the short program and finished fifth. But in the free skate, she failed to complete her high-scoring combinations and dropped to sixth overall.

Summer Britcher (2014, 2018)

Sport: Luge

Birthplace: Baltimore, 1994

Background: Born into a family of Baltimore firefighters — her father is a Baltimore City Fire Department battalion chief, and her grandfather a retired captain — and raised in Glen Rock, Pa., Britcher got her start in the sport at age 11. At a USA Luge promotional event, she rode down a makeshift bunny track on a ski slope. Encouraged by a coach to try out for the national team’s junior program, Britcher impressed during a weeklong screening camp in Lake Placid, N.Y., and made the U.S. junior team. In 2012, Britcher won gold in the team relay and placed fifth in the girls singles event at the Youth Winter Olympics. The following year, she won the junior national championship. At the World Cup race in 2013, where Britcher secured the third and final spot on the U.S. Olympic team for the Sochi Games, her closest competition finished just 0.013 of a second too slow to overcome the 19-year-old. This World Cup season, she easily qualified for her second Olympics. She won the women’s singles World Cup race Jan. 20 in Lillehammer, Norway, beating defending Olympic champion and three-time singles world champion Natalie Geisenberger of Germany.

Results: Britcher finished 15th out of 31 in women's singles in Sochi, 4.375 seconds behind the gold-medal winner and third among the Americans competing.

Jessica Lutz (2014)

Sport: Ice hockey

Birthplace: Rockville, 1989

Background: The daughter of a Swiss father, Lutz was born and raised in the Washington area, where she learned to skate and play hockey. She attended Washington Christian Academy, then based in Silver Spring, and attracted college attention with the Junior Women's Hockey League’s Washington Pride. After a three-year career at Connecticut, Lutz graduated early and played in Switzerland for nearly three years before returning home in 2012.

Results: Lutz tied for the team lead in goals (two) and points (three) over six games as Switzerland earned the bronze medal.

Haley Skarupa (2018)

Sport: Ice hockey

Birthplace: Rockville, 1994

Background: Skarupa grew up playing roller hockey with her older brother, Dylan, before joining the Montgomery Youth Hockey Association. As a freshman at Wootton High, she won a state title in boys hockey while playing alongside Dylan, and as a junior and senior, she captained the Washington Pride. Skarupa twice was named the Junior Women’s Hockey League’s top player and played on three U.S. under-18 national teams at the world championships, winning gold in 2011 and silver in 2010 and 2012. A star at Boston College, she was twice a top-10 finalist for the Patty Kazmaier Memorial Award, given to the country’s top women’s player. Skarupa has represented Team USA in three International Ice Hockey Federation Women’s World Championships and most recently played for the Boston Pride of the National Women’s Hockey League.

Thomas Hong (2018)

Sport: Speedskating

Birthplace: Seoul, South Korea, 1997

Background: Nearly born in an ice rink — his mother went into labor while watching her daughter skate in Seoul — Hong was 4 when he emigrated to the Baltimore area, settling in Laurel. He began speedskating a year later and was competing not long after. He split his time training between practice with the Potomac Speedskating Club at Wheaton Ice Arena and Seoul, where his father lives and where he’d train with other speedskaters during the summer. Hong made the U.S. Youth Olympic team in 2012 and became a regular at world junior championships, winning silver in the 500-meter race last year. In 2014, at age 17, he was the youngest competitor at the U.S. Olympic trials, where he placed 11th overall. At a World Cup event in November, Hong helped the U.S. set a world record in the 5,000-meter relay. A 2015 graduate of Atholton, Hong completed his freshman year at Maryland before relocating to Salt Lake City to train full-time with U.S. Speedskating.

Maame Biney (2018)

Sport: Speedskating

Birthplace: Ghana, 2000

Background: A native of Accra, Ghana’s capital, Biney came to the United States at age 5 to see her father. But after visiting a mall, she soon fell in love with life stateside and moved into her father’s Rockville home. Not long after, while living in Reston, Va., her father saw a sign advertising skating lessons, and Biney got her start on the ice. Biney was a naturally fast skater, and on a coach’s suggestion switched to speedskating. After winning youth national titles, she took bronze in the 500-meter race at last year’s world junior championships, just the second American woman since 1996 to medal at junior worlds. A few months later, Biney made her first senior-level World Cup team after finishing first overall in the U.S. women’s qualifiers.

jshaffer@baltsun.com

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