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2014 Olympics: Wiencke’s Winter Games dreams fall short

Mimi Wiencke’s dreams of competing in the Sochi Olympic games fell less than half a second short.

Wiencke, a Newport resident, was the top-ranked women’s alpine snowboard racer in the country and an Olympic hopeful in two events — the parallel slalom and parallel giant slalom. She was in Jauerling, Austria, on Jan. 10, Bad Gastein, Austria, on Jan. 12 and in Rogla, Slovenia, on Jan. 18 for three Olympic qualifying races.

In her final shot at the 2014 Winter Games, Wiencke finished in 20th place in the parallel giant slalom with a two-race total time of 1 minute, 17.30 seconds. The final qualifier was Germany’s Anke Karstens, who took 16th place with a time of 1:16.86.

“It was a warm and very wet day, but the snow was actually quite nice,” Weincke said via her Facebook page. “I had a good first run, but again, made one small mistake on my second run, and ended up finishing 20th today. That seems to have been a trend for me this season ... I have the speed I need to put down one of the top runs, but consistency has not been my friend. Unfortunately, this means there will be no Olympics for me this year. My road to Sochi ends today in the rain in Slovenia.”

Wiencke, 24, was raised in White Bear Lake and lives in Newport when she is not traveling and competing on the World Cup and Continental Cup circuits.

Wiencke was invited by the U.S. Olympic Committee to register for the 2014 Games, and headed to Europe for Olympic trials in December and January. The Sochi Olympics open on Feb. 6.

In the world of competitive snowboarding, there are two broad divisions — freestyle and racing.

Freestyle events are judged events including: Halfpipe, slopestyle and big air. Racing events are strictly speed and timed events including snowboard cross and alpine snowboard racing. Alpine snowboard racing has been an Olympic event since the Nagano Winter Games in 1998.

Since the 2002 Olympics in Salt Lake City, Utah, snowboard racing has become a parallel event – with two skiers racing head-to-head in parallel courses to the finish line. After qualifying runs, there are four elimination rounds. Each elimination round consists of two runs, with each racer in a heat racing in one course and then switching courses for their second run. Therefore, to place first through fourth in any parallel event requires making it through a total of 10 runs.

This year, in addition to parallel giant slalom, parallel slalom will debut in the Olympics – it’s the same racing format, but the gates in each course are set closer together, and shorter boards are used to compete.

Wiencke has been competing nationally since she was 7 and internationally since her junior year at White Bear Lake High School.

For her senior year, she moved to Colorado and began training with the Steamboat Springs Winter Sports Club (SSWSC), which has produced more Olympic athletes than any similar program in the country. Since then, her coach, Thedo Remmelink — a 1998 Olympian and coach of the 2006 U.S. Olympic Team — had been grooming her for the 2014 Games.

-Patrick Johnson

Patrick Johnson
Patrick Johnson has been the South Washington County Bulletin’s sports editor since 2008. He reports on and oversees coverage of high school and amateur sports in south Washington County and Woodbury. Prior to joining the Bulletin, Johnson worked for other Twin Cities suburban newspapers. He is a University of Minnesota graduate.
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