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Sweeney’s return, Marino’s medal highlight early Connecticut competition in Beijing Games

Emily Sweeney of Team USA slides during training on day one of the Beijing 2022 Winter Olympic Games at National Sliding Center on February 05, 2022 in Yanqing, China.
Adam Pretty
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Getty Images
Emily Sweeney of Team USA slides during training at the 2022 Beijing Winter Olympics at the National Sliding Center in Yanqing, China, on Feb. 5.

Emily Sweeney, one of several athletes representing Connecticut in the 2022 Beijing Winter Olympics that opened Friday, crashed Monday in her return to Olympic sliding.

“That was hard. So tomorrow I’ll hit the reset button,” Sweeney told a reporter who asked her about getting back on the sled for another run Tuesday despite being well off the pace.

“Right now, it’s just a tough one,” she said.

The Suffield luger had returned to the Olympics after a devastating crash four years ago. Sweeney’s bid to medal at the 2018 Pyeongchang Olympics ended when she broke her neck and back in a horrific crash.

“I think the more important part of my story for myself at least is that I’m still here,” Sweeney recently said to a group of reporters, including NPR’s Brian Mann. “I made it back, I made it through all of those things. It was incredibly challenging.”

Monday’s crash put Sweeney behind; she’s now in 28th place in the women’s luge competition.

She could race in Thursday’s team relay competition, but she’d have to be selected by coaches ahead of all her American teammates to be the one female singles luger on the four-person team.

Kristen Santos, a graduate of Fairfield Warde High School, also struggled Monday. She missed a shot at a gold medal when she fell during the 500-meter women’s short track speedskating competition.

Santos is competing in her first Olympics. She spoke to Connecticut Public in December after qualifying “the hard way,” giving up an automatic berth on Team USA to make the squad with an outright win in the 1,500-meter event of the U.S. short track speedskating time trials on Dec. 18.

She does have several events outstanding, including the 1,500-meter event she won at time trials.

Luger Tucker West is not in his first Olympics — he's in his third at just 26 years old. As in prior years, West failed to medal in the 2022 Beijing Games. He did place 13th, his best finish yet.

There is one Connecticut athlete who is responsible for Team USA’s first Olympic medal of 2022. Julia Marino, a snowboarder from Westport, won a silver medal Saturday in women’s slopestyle.

If you read any of Frankie Graziano’s previous biographies, they’d be all about his passion for sports. But times change – and he’s a family man now.

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