Parents of Alaskan Olympians watch from afar

Published: Jan. 25, 2022 at 10:54 AM AKST|Updated: Jan. 25, 2022 at 3:57 PM AKST
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ANCHORAGE, Alaska (KTUU) - Skiing in the Olympics has been a goal of Anchorage cross-country skiers Gus Schumacher and Luke Jager since they were children skiing at Kincaid Park, and soon, they’ll both get to live out their childhood dream after being named to the U.S. Olympic team last week.

While Schumacher and Jager are headed to Beijing — where the 2022 Winter Olympics will kick off in February — their mothers, Amy Johns and Amy Schumacher, will not. Neither of them have travel visas and due to the ongoing threat of COVID-19, China announced it would not publicly sell tickets to events and only allow selected groups of people to watch.

Given the circumstances, this left both moms with two options: follow along from home, or go to Park City, Utah, and watch with other parents at the Team USA viewing party. Neither has decided what they plan on doing.

“It’d be awesome to go but we’re sort of trained on watching them from afar,” Amy Schumacher said over Zoom on Monday.

Not being able to watch in person isn’t out of the ordinary for these mothers, as they are usually awake at odd hours of the night watching their sons compete across the globe in the International Ski Federation World Cup.

“I get nervous watching in person anyway so sometimes I’m better off not being there,” Amy Johns said with a laugh over Zoom.

Before the early wake-up calls, they watched their sons compete at Kincaid Park with the Nordic Ski Association of Anchorage Junior Nordic Program.

“Like all kids, they started in Junior Nordic, and that’s the building block for all these kids. They had all these role models in town, male and female, that were doing great,” Schumacher said.

As Gus Schumacher and Luke Jager grew up, they continued to progress through the ranks of local skiing. In high school, Schumacher skied for Service while Jager competed for West Anchorage. Both enjoyed successful youth careers, taking home numerous state and national honors.

The peak of their junior skiing careers came at the 2019 World Junior Ski Championships when they won gold in the 4-by-5 kilometer relay. This was the first gold medal at World Juniors ever for the U.S. A year later, Gus Schumacher won the 10-kilometer classic at World Juniors capturing the first-ever individual gold medal for the U.S. at World Juniors.

That podium-topping performance, mixed with a strong fundamental foundation from the Anchorage ski community, has helped Schumacher and Jager achieve their Olympic dream.

“I know our kids would not be where they are today without this community,” Johns said.

The Alaska Pacific University ski team, which Jager is a part of, will host an outdoor event to watch the opening ceremonies Feb. 4 at APU starting at 6 p.m.

Editor’s note: This article has been updated with additional information.

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