Cougar athlete connections to Olympics/Sochi

Sochi was an eight-month residence for former all-conference linebacker Cameron Jensen prior to his transfer to BYU in 2003-2006 following a mission to Russia. (Photo by BYU Photo/Jaren Wilkey)

Although no BYU athletes are participating in the 2014 Winter Olympics, some athletes still have connections to the unique city, home of this year’s winter competition.

Current BYU sophomore Kate Hansen is competing for the United States in the luge, but is not a Cougar athlete.

Two BYU athletes, junior Steve Flint (cross country and track) and former all-conference linebacker Cameron Jensen (football 2003-2006) served in the Rostov Mission. While serving, Elders Flint and Jensen had the opportunity to serve in Sochi for about 8 months each.

Flint, the junior from Bayfield, Colo., returned most recently from serving in Sochi until August of 2009 before coming to BYU. He remembers Sochi for its warm and sub-tropical climate, perfect for destination vacations.

“Sochi is a pretty incredible place,” Flint said. “Even though they’re having the Winter Olympics there, it’s actually really quite tropical in the middle of Sochi. Some people even call it the Hawaii of Russia.”

Just about an hour and a half into the Krasnaya Polyana Mountains lies the perfect snowy setting for the winter sports. While serving, Flint and his companions would often run into members of the Olympic Committee planning the event that was elected just two years earlier. They even had the chance to visit the Rosa Khutor Resort (hosting skiing and snowboarding events) in their personal time.

“I spent the most time there, so Sochi was like a second home to me,” Flint said. “To have the Olympics there is very exciting and I feel like there’s a little part of me still there.”

Jensen served in Sochi between 2002 and 2003, right after his freshman year at Ricks College where he received all-conference honors. After returning from his mission, he received offers from various west coast schools before he decided on wearing the Cougar blue. Jensen remembers Sochi for its original charm

"It looks like an entirely different city when I look at it on TV, I can hardly recognize it," Jensen said. "All the infrustructure wasn't there [in 2002], there's no way Sochi could have hosted the Olympics while I was there. The roads going up to the Krasnaya Polyana were just small one-way roads and there was only one major hotel." 

Two BYU athletes did, however, participate in the 2012 Summer Olympics. Senior swimmer Andrew Rutherfurd and junior Rafael Alfaro competed in London for Bolivia and El Salvador. They are the first BYU athletes to compete in the Olympics since 2008.

BYU’s only athletes to participate in the winter Olympics included former track and soccer player, Shauna Rohbock who competed in the bobsled event for USA in 2006 and earned the silver medal. Former men’s gymnast, Werner Hoeger, was the only other BYU athlete who competed in 2002 and 2006 for Venezuela in the luge.

Though not a former Cougar, BYU faculty member Barbara Day Lockhart is the only other Winter Olympic athlete with BYU associations who competed in both 1960 and 1964 for the USA speed skating team. Lockhart was also a chairman on the 2002 Olympic Committee.

The athletic program is lucky enough, however, to have three current coaches who are former Olympians and former Cougars. Head diving coach Keith Russell dove in the 1968 Olympics and was named to earn the gold medal by Sports Illustrated. He also represented the USA in the 2008 Beijing Olympics as the only American diving judge. Men’s head track and field and cross country coach Ed Eyestone (1988, 1992) and track administrative assistant coach Doug Padilla (1984, 1988) are two-time Olympians.

Summer Sports                  
  Sport Event Gender Name Olympic Year BYU Roster Years Medal Country BYU Association
  Baseball   Men's Cory Snyder 1984 1982-1984 Silver USA  
  Basketball   Men's Kresimir Cosic 1968, 1972, 1976, 1980 1969-1973 Silver ('68), Silver ('76), Gold ('80) Yugoslavia  
      Men's Ken James 1972 1964-1967   Mexico  
      Men's Timo Saarelainen 1984 1980-1985   Finland  
    Paraolympics Men's Mike Schlappi 1976   Bronze USA  
      Men's Phil Tollestrup 1976 1969-1972   Canada  
  Distance Racing Paraolympics Men's Curt Brinkman 1976     USA  
  Gymnastics   Women's Debbie Hill 1972     USA  
    All-around Men's Guard Young 2004 1997-2000 Silver USA  
    All-around Men's Wayne Young 1976 1973-1976   USA  
  Rowing   Women's Megan Dirkmaat 2004   Silver USA  
  Swimming 400-meter individual medley Men's Rafael Alfaro 2012 2010-2014   El Salvador  
    100-meter freestyle, 200-meter freestyle Men's Jung Jun (Mark) Chay 2000, 2004 2003-2007   Singapore  
    4 x 100-meter freestyle relay Men's Piero Ferracuti 1976 1975-1979   El Salvador  
    4 x 100-meter freestyle relay, 100-meter butterfly Women's Lelei Fonoimoana-Moore 1976 1976-1979 Silver (4x100) USA  
      Men's Kristian Johanson 1992     Finland  
    4 x 100-meter medley relay, 100-meter backstroke Men's Tomislav Karlo 1992, 1996 1989-1993   Croatia  
    100-meter backstroke, 200-meter backstroke Men's David Lim 1984, 1988 1984-1987   Singapore  
    4 x 100-meter freestyle relay, 100-meter freestyle Men's Ron Menezes 1984   Silver Brazil  
    100-meter breaststroke, 200-meter breaststroke, 200-meter individual medley, 4 x 100-meter medley relay Men's Ng Yue Meng 1988 1988-1990, 1992-1994   Singapore  
    100-meter breaststroke, 200-meter breaststroke, 4 x 100-meter medley relay Women's Hiroko Nagasaki 1976, 1984, 1988 1991-1992   Japan  
    50-meter freestyle, 100-meter freestyle, 200-meter freestyle, 4x 100-meter medley relay Men's Jin Gee Oon  1984, 1988 1984-1987   Singapore  
    4 x 100-meter freestyle relay, 4 x 100 meter medley relay, 100-meter breaststroke Men's Jin Teik Oon 1984, 1988 1984-1987   Singapore  
    Diving Men's Keith Russell 1968 1971-1973   USA  
    100-meter freestyle Men's Andrew Rutherfurd 2012 2007-2008, 2010-2014   Bolivia  
    200-meter freestyle, 200-meter backstroke Men's Arunas Savickas 1996, 2000 1997-2000   Lithuania  
    100-meter backstroke, 200-meter individual medley Men's Gary Tan 2000 1994-2004   Singapore  
    Diving Men's Ricardo Velarde 1976 1977-1981   Mexico  
    Diving Men's Justin Wilcock 2004 1997-1998, 2000-2002   USA  
    200-meter individual medley Men's Diogo de Oliveira Yabe 2004 2001-2005   Brazil  
  Tennis   Men's Jim Osborne 1968     USA  
  Track 100-meter Men's Kenneth Andam 2000     Ghana  
    Discus Men's Niklas Arrhenius 2008 2004-2007   Sweden  
    Shotput Men's Anders Arrhenius 1972 1972-1975   Sweden  
    Heptathlon Women's Marsha Baird 2000     Trinidad  
    Shotput Women's Jillian Camarena 2008, 2012     USA BYU track strength and conditioning coach
    10,000-meter Men's Paul Cummings 1984 1972-1975   USA  
    Marathon Men's Ed Eyestone 1988, 1992 1982-1985   USA  
    Discus Men's Stefan Fernholm 1984 1981-1984   Sweden  
    100-meter, 200-meter Men's Frank Fredericks 1992, 1996,2004 1988-1991 Silver ('92), Silver('96) Namibia  
    Discus Men's Kenth Gardenkrans 1980 1974-1978   Sweden  
    Javelin Men's Richard George 1976 1971-1972, 1975-1977   USA  
    Heptathlon Women's Tiffany Lott Hogan 2004 1994-1998   USA  
    800-meter Women's Julie Jenkins 1992 1984-1987   USA  
    4 x 100-meter  Men's Oluyemi Kayode 1992 1990-1993 Silver Nigeria  
    High Jump Men's Keneth Lundmark 1968 1970   Sweden  
    400 IH Men's Ralph Mann 1972 1969-1971   USA  
    Steeplechase Men's Henry Marsh 1976, 1980, 1984, 1988 1975-1978   Sweden  
    Steeplechase Men's Josh McAdams 2008 2003-2005   USA  
    100-meter Men's Leonard Myles Mills 2000 1969-1999   Ghana  
    5,000-meter  Men's Doug Padilla  1984, 1988 1978-1980   USA  
    Marathon Men's Laman Palma 1976     Finland  
    Hammer Women's Amy Chistiansen Palmer 2000 1994-1998   USA  
    Discus Men's Zdrovko Pecar 1972     Czechoslavakia  
    Decathalon Men's Raimo Pihl 1976 1971-1976   Sweden  
    Long Jump Men's Perti Pousi 1968, 1972 1966-1969   Sweden  
    1,500-meter  Men's Jason Pyrah 1996, 2000 1987, 1991-1994   USA  
    High Jump Men's Alma Richards 1912 1910-1913 Gold USA  
    5,000-meter   Men's Clarence Robison 1948 1948   USA  
    Distance Women's Maggie Chan Roper 2000 1996-1998   Hong Kong  
    400-meter hurdles Men's Dale Schofield 1936 1933-1936   USA  
    Steeplechase Men's Usaia Sotutu 1972     Fiji  
    Shotput Men's Soren Tallhem 1988, 1992, 1996 1984-1987   Sweden  
    400-meter   Saimoni Tamani 1972     Fiji  
    1,500-meter    Pekka Vassela 1972     Finland  
    5,000-meter, 10,000-meter, marathon Men's Lasse Viren 1972, 1976   Gold ('72), Gold ('76) Finland  
  Volleyball   Men's John Alstrom 1961-1963     USA BYU basketball
      Men's Russell Holmes 2012 2004-2008   USA  
      Men's Ryan Millar 2000, 2004, 2008 1996-1999 Gold ('08) USA  
      Women's Charlene Johnson-Tagaloa 2000 1991-1994   USA  
      Men's Troy Tanner 1988     USA  
      Men's Rich Lambourne 2008, 2012 1994, 1997-1999 Gold ('08) USA  
    (Coach)  Men's/Women's Hugh McCutcheon 2008, 2012 1991-1993 Men's Gold ('08), Women's Gold '(12) USA  
      Men's Joel Silva 2008 2007-2010   Venezuela  
      Men's Jon Stanley 1968 1963-1965   USA BYU basketball
      Men's Hidde van Beest 2000, 2004 1998   Australia  
      Men's Giuseppe Vinci 20,082,012     USA/Italy BYU men's and women's volleyball 
  Wrestling   Men's Mark Fuller 1980, 1984, 1988, 1992     USA  
      Men's Mark Schultz  1984     USA  
Winter Sports                  
  Bobsled   Women's Shauna Rohbock 2006 1995-1998 Silver USA BYU track and soccer
  Luge   Women's Kate Hansen 2014     USA  
      Men's Werner Hoeger 2002, 2006     Venezuela BYU gymnastics
  Speed Skating 1,500 m, 3,000 m Women's Barbara Day 1964     USA  
  Alpine Skiing  Downhill, Slalom Women's Jean Saubert 1964   Silver, Bronze USA