WASHINGTON D.C. – In advance of Friday's opening ceremonies, U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-OH) honored three Ohioans who will compete for Team USA at the 2014 Winter Olympics, acknowledging the skill and character of U.S. speedskater Kelly Gunther from Lorain; and U.S. women's ice hockey players Brianne McLaughlin-Bittle from Sheffield Village, and Kelli Stack from Brooklyn Heights.
"Every four years the world showcases its athletes who exemplify the Olympic ideal," Brown said. "Kelly, Brianne, and Kelli will represent the United States because they have proven themselves to be exceptional athletes with the will and determination to compete at sport's highest stage. Ohioans are proud of their accomplishments and know that they will excel on the rink and as ambassadors of our state and nation. I look forward to cheering them on and am confident in their ability to bring home the gold."
Brown said of Gunther: "For Kelly Gunther, who grew up in Lorain, the road to Sochi was anything but easy after fracturing her ankle in 2010. At the time, Gunther was told she would probably never skate again. But, she told herself that someone is worse somewhere else, or going through something way more miserable. With that positive outlook, Gunther overcame her injury, and she is poised to be one of the comeback stories of the Olympic Games."
Brown said of Stack: "Kelli Stack, of Brooklyn Heights, is also no stranger to injury. The ice hockey forward had surgery on her knee last spring, but says she feels back to her pre-injury level. Stack played in all five games contested by the USA Team in ice hockey at the 2010 Winter Olympics. She and her teammate, Brianne McLaughlin-Bittle, would go on to win silver in those games."
Brown said of McLaughlin-Bittle: "And, Brianne McLaughlin-Bittle, a Sheffield Village native, is also looking forward to representing the U.S. in her second Winter Olympics. The goaltender made her Olympic debut for the U.S. four years ago in a U.S. victory over China, and is looking forward to victory in Sochi."
Gunther will compete in the 1,000m. She was born in Lorain where she attended Washington Elementary and Whittier Middle schools. She began her career as a figure skater but eventually transitioned to inlines. Gunther made this year's team after being forced to rehab for months following a career threatening injury in 2010.
McLaughlin-Bittle plays goalie for Team USA. She was born in Sheffield Village and graduated from Elyria Catholic High School in 2005. At Robert Morris University in Pittsburgh, she set a National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) Women's Division I record for career saves.
Stack was born in Brooklyn Heights and plays forward for Team USA. While in high school she received the Archie Griffin Sportsmanship Award; the Ohio High School Athletic Association (OHSAA) Scholar Athlete Award; and in 2004 and 2005 captained the Ohio Flames of the amateur Tier 1 Elite Hockey League.
Last month, Brown applauded the Ralph Lauren Corp. for designing the 2014 U.S. Winter Olympic uniforms using only domestic manufacturers and craftsmen.
After a July 2012 report that Team USA's summer uniforms were made in China, Brown led Senate efforts to urge the U.S. Olympic Committee (USOC) to utilize domestic clothing makers for future Olympics, including this year's games in Russia. The uniforms recently unveiled are the culmination of this and other likeminded efforts.