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00000179-c810-d4c2-a579-fdd2fe840003The 2018 Winter Olympics kick off Feb. 8 in Pyeongchang, South Korea, and over a dozen Olympians have ties to Vermont, with many more having trained or gone to school here.In fact, Vermont is tied for sixth among states sending the most Olympic athletes in Team USA this year (Colorado takes first, in case you were curious!)Meet The 2018 Vermont OlympiansTo help you keep track of local athletes as they compete in Pyeongchang, we've gathered their bios by team:Alpine Skiing | Biathlon | Bobsleigh & Luge | Cross-Country Skiing | Freestyle Skiing | Ice Hockey | Snowboard We'll be keeping track of the results every weekday morning on the Sports Report and on VPR's Facebook and Twitter accounts.Vermonter Mikaela Shiffrin at last year's Alpine Skiing World Championships. Her first event in Pyeongchang is scheduled for Monday, Feb. 12.

Montpelier's Amanda Pelkey Aims For Olympic Hockey Gold

Amanda Pelkey
Joe Lemke
USA Hockey
Amanda Pelkey grew up in Montpelier and was a standout player at UVM. Now she'll play for Team USA in the 2018 Olympics.

While plenty of Vermonters are getting ready to watch the Olympics in South Korea next week a select few are preparing to compete in the winter games.

Among them is Amanda Pelkey, who grew up in Montpelier playing hockey and went on to be a stand-out player at the University of Vermont, recording the most points in program history: 49 goals and 56 assists playing for the Catamounts.

Now she's getting another accomplishment: playing on the U.S. women's hockey team next month in South Korea.

Pelkey said sharing the news that she had made the Olympic team was “one of the best feelings in the world."  

"But when you look down the road and you know there's a lot of work that needs to be put into. Once you make that roster there's so much more that you need to be willing to do as an individual to be able to give everything to the team to put our team in the best situation to win a gold medal," she said.

Meet The 2018 Vermont Olympians

Alpine Skiing | Biathlon | Bobsleigh & Luge | Cross-Country Skiing | Freestyle Skiing | Ice Hockey | Snowboard

Pelkey has qualified to play in the National Women's Hockey League for the Boston Pride. Since making the Olympic team, she's moved to Florida for training for the six months leading up to the Olympics.

"We play a lot of games down here. We play junior boys teams, we play Division 3 college teams. We played the Tampa Bay Lightning alumni which was super cool. We have tons of practice, lots of training, team building activities everything that you can imagine. You know what a team needs to do in order to be successful," she said.

Pelkey has the support of her hometown, where a fundraiser was held to raise money for her parents to be able to go to South Korea to watch her play.

"My parents got tremendous support from not only hockey families that I grew up playing with, but people from the community that may not have been involved with hockey, they were they were there to support my parents," Pelkey said adding that 400 people showed up for the event at a bar owned by family friends in Barre.

"The style of play that we have been playing for the past three to four years is I think the style that's going to win a gold medal." — Amanda Pelkey

"I think that they're still in awe about how much support that they got. And you know thank you will never be enough for those people that have supported us," she said.

For now though, her focus in on the tough games ahead at next month's Olympics. The U.S. Women's team is a strong contender.

"There's no doubt in my mind that this is going to be the group to do it.

"In the past two Olympics, they had the team to do it as well but when you get a couple of bounces that don't really go your way, then the game turns out to be not the success that you wanted. So watching those past two Olympics were heartbreaking, and I know that the veterans that were a part of both 2010 and 2014 they've had gold in their eyes ever since then.

"And I think that they've paved the way for us young players to bring in new energy and be the group that wins the gold medal," Pelkey said. "And our coach said the other day that we're the group that has changed the way women play hockey, and men play hockey, in general. The style of play that we have been playing for the past three to four years is I think the style that's going to win a gold medal."

Even in the NHL, speed has become a valued skill over brawn and hard-checking. Hockey has become more of a game of skill, which plays to Team USA's strength.

"At the top of our list is to play with speed. I think that's our secret weapon and we use that to our advantage. And then on the Olympic ice sheet is going to be, it's going to be awesome. The speed and the skill is going to be incredible," she said.  

Pelkey and the rest of the teams leave for South Korea at the end of the month and play their first game on Feb. 11.

She knows that people in Vermont will be cheering her on.

"I wish I could be in two places at once," she says, "I think that you know as awesome as it is to be representing myself my team at the Olympics and our country. I think it's going to be so amazing back at home for people that are viewing the game and I'm just like I'm speechless about how much how much fun they're going to have, how much energy they're going to have. It's going to be awesome."

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