Olympians Take Time Out For Super Bowl

By Greg Bates | Jan. 31, 2014, 4:54 p.m. (ET)
Nordic skier Bryan Fletcher poses during the NBC Olympics/United States Olympic Committee photo shoot in West Hollywood, Calif., in April 2013.

Corey Cogdell has been on the big stage before, having competed in the Olympic Games twice.

But this Sunday, the two-time Olympic trap shooter will get to experience being a fan at one of sport’s other largest stages, watching her fiancé play in the Super Bowl.

Cogdell, who earned a bronze medal at the Olympic Games in Beijing and also competed in London in 2012, will be cheering on the Denver Broncos and defensive lineman Mitch Unrein in the Super Bowl against the Seattle Seahawks. Cogdell and Unrein got engaged last November after having dated since 2010.

"I live a lot of Mitch’s excitement and nerves through my experience in my own sport, just because I know how that really feels,” said Cogdell in an interview with USAShooting.org. “I feel like every week, I’m going out there and I’m pulling for him and his team just like I would be for any of my teammates on Team USA.

Olympic bronze medalist shooter Corey Cogdell proudly displays
her Broncos colors

"This season has just been really exciting and full of a lot of ups and downs through injuries, and the health of our head coach (John Fox). I’ve seen this team really fight through a lot of adversity. To see them where they are now and to see Mitch playing in the Super Bowl, it’s the same type of feeling and energy I had when I found out I had made the Olympic Team."

Cogdell will be in attendance at MetLife Stadium in East Rutherford, N.J., for the Super Bowl. She wouldn’t miss the biggest game of Unrein’s career.

“It’s a just such an intense rush of emotions every week with the highs and lows of the game and I’ve probably cried at five games this year as a result of Mitch’s success and the team’s success,” Cogdell said.

“I just know how much of a life-changing experience the Olympics have been for me, and I know how much of a life-changing experience this will be for him."

Cogdell won’t be the only Olympian tuning into the big game. Even with the Sochi 2014 Olympic Winter Games set to start next week and with several athletes in the midst of traveling for the biggest event of their careers, time seems to stop on Super Bowl Sunday.

There are a number of U.S. Olympic winter-sport athletes who have ties to the Broncos and Seahawks. This year, 19 members of the 2014 U.S. Olympic Team in Sochi hail from Colorado, while there are eight athletes from Washington.

Advantage Broncos fans?v

Well, maybe.

With the U.S. Olympic Training Center housed in Colorado Springs, Colo., it’s only natural there are quite a few Olympians from Colorado.

Adeline Gray, an alternate in the London 2012 Olympic Games in wrestling and 2012 world champion, last week got the surprise of her life from her father, George.

"He called me up and he’s like, ‘Are you ready to buy tickets to New York?’” Gray said. “I was like, ‘What?’ I was like, ‘No way.’ He said, ‘Yeah, I got Super Bowl tickets. Are you ready?’ I was online immediately checking flights."

Gray, 23, a lifelong Broncos fan having grown up in Denver, attended the University of Colorado-Colorado Springs and she currently resides in Colorado Springs.

"I’ve been a Broncos fan since I was born, so it’s really exciting to be a hometown girl and have a good team,” Gray said. “I did some growing pains the last few years and got through it all. They’ve been my favorite team forever."

Gray, who is training with hopes of competing in the Rio de Janeiro 2016 Olympic Games, wanted to attend one of the Broncos home playoff games this season, but it didn’t pan out.

So getting Super Bowl tickets was beyond her imagination. Now she can cross the Super Bowl experience off her bucket list.

Gray will get to go to the game with her father and boyfriend and also a cousin who lives in New York. She’s expecting big things from her team.

"I think the Broncos are going to win, but it’s definitely going to be fun and exciting game,” said Gray, who plans to tweet quite a bit about her Super Bowl experience (check out @AdelineGray). “I understand what it means to step out on that big stage and know how to turn on that switch, so I’m hoping my guys know how to do that on this big day."

Gray claims she isn’t good at predicting scores, but she’s going 24-14. “Broncos winning, obviously,” she said.

Quite a few winter Olympians will be glued to their televisions Sunday night, taking a little break from training.

Brothers Bryan and Taylor Fletcher, both Olympic Nordic combined skiers who will represent Team USA in

Nordic skier Taylor Fletcher poses during the NBC Olympics/United States Olympic Committee photo shoot in West Hollywood, Calif. in April 2013.

Sochi, are huge Broncos fans. The Steamboat Springs natives can be seen in promotional Olympic photos by NBC wearing Broncos jerseys.

Taylor, 23, hasn’t missed watching a Broncos game this year and can’t wait to watch the Super Bowl. He always has the same attire on for every game.

"I will have my Champ Bailey jersey, old-school Broncos hat and Broncos beanie,” Taylor wrote in an email. “If things are going well, the jersey will be taken off and put on the couch and the baseball cap comes on! I don’t believe I am superstitious."

Bryan, 27, wears his late 1980s replica jersey of Simon Fletcher, no relation, who played for the Broncos for 11 seasons.

"I have a lucky Mile High Salute T-shirt that I will wear without a doubt!” Bryan wrote in an email.

The Fletchers will be overseas for the Super Bowl getting prepared for the Winter Games, but they wouldn’t miss the Broncos’ biggest game in a decade and a half.

"I will be traveling through Munich, Germany, during the Super Bowl,” wrote Bryan. “I am lucky, though, because jet lag will probably kick in and I will be able to watch the game online at 4 a.m."

Obviously both Fletcher boys are predicting a Broncos victory. Bryan thinks it will be 28-20 and Taylor believes it will be a little higher scoring at 35-24.

Fellow Nordic combined skier Todd Lodwick is also a big Broncos backer. The Steamboat Springs resident has been a fan since he was kid in the 1980s watching the “three amigos,” wide receivers Ricky Nattiel, Vance Johnson and Mark Jackson.

Lodwick, 37, who in Sochi will become the first American to compete in six Olympic Winter Games, plans on wearing his lucky hat for the big game.

"I will be arriving in Europe on Super Bowl Sunday and will watch it that night with my fellow teammates,” Lodwick wrote in an email.

Lodwick’s game prediction? “27-17. Broncos, of course."

Colorado natives David Chodounsky, alpine skiing, and Arielle Gold, a snowboarding world champion, have both been adamant about their allegiances to the Broncos in past media interviews. Gold has said her favorite Broncos player is Peyton Manning. Gold, 17, was just a little more than 2 years old when Manning threw his first NFL pass.

As for Seahawks fans amongst the Olympians, they are tougher to track down. However, they don’t lack in support of their favorite team.

Apolo Anton Ohno, the most decorated U.S. Olympic winter athlete of all-time with eight medals, will be cheering on his hometown Seahawks. Ohno was born in Federal Way, Wash., but graduated from the University of Colorado at Colorado Springs.

Ohno is en route to Sochi where he will be working as a short track speedskating analyst for NBC.

“We will be watching the game at the hotel or IBC (International Broadcast Center) or maybe in the mountains via streaming content on my iPad :-),” Ohno wrote in an email. “Excited for the big game! Have friends who play on the Broncos and obviously my team is the Seahawks.”

J.R. Celski, a two-time bronze medalist in short track speedskating, has been an outspoken Seahawks fan for years. During the 2010 NFL season, Celski, who also was raised in Federal Way, Wash., was honored by the Seahawks and helped raise the 12th Man flag prior to a game.

Some Olympians might consider Sunday a day of rest before the final push to prepare for the Winter Games. It’s the Super Bowl, relax and enjoy the day. Right?

"No way, Jose,” Taylor Fletcher wrote. “We will be training hard in Germany!"

"I'm an active guy, so I will probably get a workout in before I indulge in all of the great Super Bowl snacks,” Lodwick wrote.

Greg Bates is a freelance writer based in Green Bay, Wis., who has covered Green Bay Packers games for a number of media outlets for the past seven seasons. He has been a freelance contributor for TeamUSA.org on behalf of Red Line Editorial, Inc., since 2012.

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