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Photos: Alaskans celebrate their Olympians on the way to Sochi

Devon James, 5th grader at Inlet View Elementary, signs a banner wishing good luck for Alaskans competing in Sochi next year. Anchorage held a send-off ceremony for Alaskans headed to Sochi, Russia to compete in the Winter Olympics early next year. Nov 9, 2013
Loren Holmes photo
Hundreds of well-wishers came out on a snowy Saturday as Anchorage held a send-off ceremony for Alaskans headed to Sochi, Russia to compete in the Winter Olympics early next year. Nov 9, 2013
Loren Holmes photo
Cross-country skier Holly Brooks addresses well-wishers in town square. Anchorage held a send-off ceremony for Alaskans headed to Sochi, Russia to compete in the Winter Olympics early next year. Nov 9, 2013
Loren Holmes photo
Anchorage held a send-off ceremony for Alaskans headed to Sochi, Russia to compete in the Winter Olympics early next year. Nov 9, 2013
Loren Holmes photo
Kikkan Randall thanks the hundreds of well-wishers who came out to send off Randall and other olympians to Sochi. Anchorage held a send-off ceremony for Alaskans headed to Sochi, Russia to compete in the Winter Olympics early next year. Nov 9, 2013
Loren Holmes photo
Senator Lisa Murkowski was on hand to support the Alaskans headed to Sochi next year to compete in the Winter Olympics. Anchorage held a send-off ceremony for Alaskans headed to Sochi, Russia to compete in the Winter Olympics early next year. Nov 9, 2013
Loren Holmes photo
Rachel Witty takes a photo of her daughters Siobhan, left, and Fiona Witty Daugherty with olympians Kikkan Randall and Holly Brooks. Anchorage held a send-off ceremony for Alaskans headed to Sochi, Russia to compete in the Winter Olympics early next year. Nov 9, 2013
Loren Holmes photo
Alaska Dispatch

Everyday Alaskans and state politicians gathered in downtown Anchorage Saturday afternoon to wish Alaska athletes luck as they set their sights on Olympic gold.

The state’s most talented winter athletes will travel to Sochi, Russia -- a city only slightly larger than Anchorage and situated on the coast of the Black Sea -- for the 2014 Winter Olympic Games.

Notable Alaska Olympians Kikkan Randall and Holly Brooks spoke before 300 or so residents and snapped photos with youngsters.

Randall hails from Alaska’s largest city. At the 2006 Winter Olympics in Turin, Italy, she finished ninth in the Olympic sprint, the best-ever result in cross-country skiing by an American woman. She also participated in the 2010 Winter Olympics, during which she earned a personal best of sixth place in the team sprint, as well as her best individual fishing of eighth in the singles sprint event. When she’s not sharing Alaska’s pride with the world, Randall works at the athletic-gear shop Skinny Raven in Anchorage.

Brooks is originally from Washington but now lives in Anchorage. She also participated in the 2010 games, placing 11th in the women’s 4x5 relay.

Other prospective Alaska Olympians included Erik and Sadie Bjornsen, cross-country skiers; Keegan Messing, figure skating; Callan Chythlook-Sifsof, snowboarding; and Sarah Studebaker, biathlon. Chythlook-Sifsof is the only athlete among that group who's an Olympic veteran, competing in the Winter Games nearly four years ago.