MONTPELIER -- From Olympic gold medalists to relative newcomers, women dominate the roster of Vermont athletes heading to the Winter Games in Sochi.
At least 12 athletes from Vermont are heading to Sochi, and 11 of them are women. The lineup includes four women who are already decorated Olympians: mogul skier Hannah Kearney of Norwich and snowboarders Kelly Clark, who grew up in West Dover, Hannah Teter of Belmont and Lindsey Jacobellis of Stratton.
Four cross-country skiers from Vermont, including one man, also made the Olympic team: Andy Newell, of Shaftsbury; Sophie Caldwell, of Peru; Ida Sargent, of Orleans; and Liz Stephen, of East Montpelier. The biathlon team counts two Vermonters among its ranks: Hannah Dreissigacker, of Morrisville, and Susan Dunklee, of Barton.
Ty Walker, a 16-year-old snowboarder from Stowe, and Devin Logan, a 20-year-old freeskier from West Dover, are also headed to their first Winter Games.
Clark will compete in her fourth Olympics after taking a gold medal in Salt Lake City in 2002 in the halfpipe and a bronze in Vancouver in 2010.
"It's been a dream of mine since I was little. I didn't expect to still be doing it at 30 years old. It's amazing," Clark told The Associated Press.
She was the top American snowboarder in two qualifiers and clinched a spot on the U.S. team early.
Physically preparing for this year's games has required even more work than in the past, she said.
"I didn't want to have to land the run of my life just to qualify. I wanted to land the run of my life in Sochi at the Olympics. Right now, I'm right on track for how I hoped things would be going," Clark said.
Mogul champion Kearney got a warm send-off last week from the elementary school she attended in Norwich as she prepares for her third Olympics. She won the gold medal in the 2010 games.
The kids presented her with a bottle of Norwich water, a bottle of Norwich air affixed with an oxygen mask and a sealed zip-lock bag containing their cheers and well wishes. They also sang the school song, which brought tears to Kearney's eyes.
Bill Hammond, principal of Marion Cross School, said he talked to the students about how Kearney's success was born of hard work, perseverance and good character.
"Here's a person who is the best in the world at what she does. She got a gold medal for doing these moguls and what she wants is to come back home, to connect with people, to inspire the students, to encourage them," Hammond said. "Athletes of her caliber normally don't have the humility that she has."
Logan is making her Olympic debut the same year the Winter Olympics introduce her sport, freeskiing.
As a kid she wanted to be a ski racer but her two brothers, both freestyle skiers, talked her out of it. She does both slopestyle and halfpipe but will compete only in slopestyle in Sochi after just missing the cut for halfpipe.
The 20-year-old Logan always dreamed of getting to the Olympics but that wasn't possible until now.
"It's been a major goal of my mine," she said.