For the third consecutive Winter Olympics Games, the Methow Valley will be represented on the United States’ Nordic ski team when competition begins in Beijing, China, next month.
Valley native and Liberty Bell High School graduate Novie McCabe, the daughter of Winter Olympian Laura McCabe and the late Sean McCabe, extended the Methow’s streak of appearances when she was named to the U.S. team as its youngest member.
The valley’s cross-generational connections to the Olympics in fact date back to the 1990s, bolstered by a consistently strong Nordic skiing program that provides excellent coaching and challenging competitive opportunities.
Laura McCabe skied for the U.S. Nordic team in the 1994 Winter Olympics in Lillehammer, Norway, and at the 1998 Winter Olympics in Nagano, Japan. Novie McCabe began making her mark in national and international competition as a teenager while still in high school.
Leslie Hall, longtime coach of the Methow Valley Nordic Team until her retirement last year, represented the United States at Calgary, Canada, in 1988, at Albertville, France, in 1992, and at Lillehammer in 1994, where she was Laura McCabe’s teammate.
Hall and her husband, Alex, moved to Methow Valley in 1996 on the advice of Laura McCabe. Alex Hall’s sister, Suzanne Hall King, competed for the U.S. Nordic team at Lillehammer in 1994 and at Nagano in 1998.
Sadie and Erik Bjornsen, the sister-and-brother Nordic skiing stars who grew up in Mazama, each competed in the 2014 Olympic Winter Games in Sochi, Russia, and at the 2018 games in PyenongChang, South Korea. The siblings’ Nordic skiing coaches included Leslie Hall and Laura McCabe, and Mazama resident Scott Johnston, a former World Cup skier.
Erik Bjornsen is now co-owner of Winthrop Mountain Sports. Sadie Bjornsen lives in Anchorage, Alaska.
Valley native Brian Gregg represented the United States Nordic team at Sochi, Russia, in 2014. His wife, Caitlin Gregg, was on the U.S. team at Vancouver, Canada, in 2010. They now live in Minnesota.
And a few others
Casey Smith, co-owner of BCS Livestock near Winthrop, was a near-miss at making the U.S. biathlon team in 2014. Methow native Kelsey Dickinson, a college standout and veteran of the international circuit, barely missed making the biathlon team that is going to China next month. Sam Naney, who took over as coach of the Methow Valley Nordic Team from Leslie Hall, was an elite-level skier at the national level, accumulating several top-10 finishes on the U.S. pro circuit.