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Five Ore-lympians Make It to Beijing 

Three downhill racers, one high flying snowboarder and one Paralympic racer set their sights for winter in Beijing.

The Winter Olympics in Beijing, China start this week. Here's a quick rundown of the local and Oregon athletes competing.

Tommy Ford, Giant Slalom skier

Coming back from a horrific injury is never easy. Tommy Ford, the Bend native who grew up skiing for the Mount Bachelor Sports Education Foundation, plans to come back on the biggest stage this winter as the 32-year-old Giant Slalom skier vies for a top position at the 2022 Winter Olympics. After the Olympics of 2018, where Ford placed 20th, he went on a spree of impressive victories which included a top spot at the 2019 Beaver Creek World Cup.

click to enlarge Tommy Ford and Ravi Drugan are two Bend athletes competing for Olympic gold in Beijing. - COURTESY US SKI & SNOWBOARD/TEAM USA
  • Courtesy US Ski & Snowboard/Team USA
  • Tommy Ford and Ravi Drugan are two Bend athletes competing for Olympic gold in Beijing.

This past January Ford had a violent crash, leaving him unconscious with a broken right tibial plateau and torn ligaments in his right knee. He has worked to recover from the crash, being awarded for his efforts with a spot on the Olympic team where he will appear in his first race this season. Ford is one of two Bendites with medals in their sights. 

Ravi Drugan, Paralympic monoskier

Meanwhile, Ravi Drugan will compete in the largest-ever Paralympic winter games. Drugan is one of 700 athletes competing for a medal in the competition designed for athletes with disabilities. Growing up in Eugene, Drugan survived being hit by a train at the age of 14. The accident would cause him to lose both of his legs from above the knees. At Hoodoo he would learn how to use a mono-ski through the Oregon Adaptive Sports program. Drugan has medaled at the X-Games in 2015 where he won bronze in the Monoski-X event. He'll depart from the featured race course of berms and jumps this March as he plans to compete in both the Slalom and Super-G events in the games that take place after the Olympics.

Jacqueline Wiles, Downhill and Super-G skier

Jacqueline Wiles has been charging since a young age. After her parents put her in a ski race program rather than ski lessons because the racing program cost less, it's hard to imagine that Wiles would learn to be anything but fast. The 29-year-old Portlander has experience with the U.S. Ski team, having made the 2014 Olympic games, and qualifying for the 2018 games before experiencing an injury. Wiles will compete in both the Downhill and Super-G races for her third Olympic games. She, along with Ford, represents a group of experienced veterans. Oregon has a few Olympic rookies looking to make their mark. 

Luke Winters, Slalom skier

The young Luke Winters, from Gresham, will compete in his first games this month. Winters grew up riding for the Mount Hood Racing Team and found success on the junior slalom circuit, winning nationals at a young age. He was awarded the Pacific Northwest Ski Association's Schwabe Award that is given to the outstanding alpine competitor of the year through the PNSA. His success at a young age has transferred into his early 20s, stringing together successful races on the World Cup circuit that granted Winters with his first Olympic appearance. Winters has competed in The U.S. Revolution Tour in not only Slopestyle, but Super-pipe and Big Air, too. Although he is disciplined in all three of these high adrenaline competitions, he will hone in on Slopestyle for the Olympics.

Sean FitzSimons, Slopestyle snowboarder

While the rest of the Oregon competitors fly through the gates, this last athlete takes flight more vertically. Snowboarder Sean FitzSimons of Hood River competes in the slopestyle event—a series of jumps and rails where athletes dial in runs of mind-bending difficult spins and flips, linking together runs all without crashing. FitzSimons is the youngest Oregon athlete at 21, but has racked up an impressive array of experience at a young age. FitzSimons rode with the Mt. Bachelor Snowboard team as a youth and has progressed his craft through the years, bringing him to his first Olympic games.   

For those who want to watch Oregon athletes at home, NBC broadcasting stations will have live viewing events and daily recaps. Tommy Ford will be live for his first run in Giant Slalom on NBC Saturday, Feb. 12 at 6:15pm. The second medal runs will take place on NBC Feb. 12 at 9:45pm. Jacquelin Wiles will race Super-G Thursday, Feb. 10 at 7pm, and compete in Women's Downhill Monday, Feb. 14 at 7pm. Luke Winters and the men's Slalom races will have their first runs take place Feb. 15 at 6:15pm on NBC, with the second medal runs happening Feb. 15 at 9:45pm. Finally, the Slopestyle finals will be live on NBC Feb. 6 at 8pm, with qualifying rounds taking place on Feb. 5th at 8:30pm.  Cable and local viewing times can vary, so check your TV provider to confirm those details.

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