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Minnesota Town Seems To Churn Out Olympic Ice Hockey Players


Let's travel now to Warroad, Minnesota, just six miles from the Canadian border, where hockey reigns supreme.

BETH MARVIN: We're a very small town, 1,700 people. We have an arena that will seat close to 1,800 and many times we have had a full house. Hockey is our life here in the wintertime.

MONTAGNE: That's town historian Beth Marvin, who admits Warroad is somewhat of an Olympic incubator. She knows firsthand. Her granddaughter is 26-year-old Olympic hockey player GiGi Marvin.

MARVIN: We have pictures of her on the ice with her daddy and a little stick and puck. She always was at the arena if she wasn't doing something else.


Now, GiGi Marvin is a forward on the U.S. women's team. She won a silver medal at the 2010 Olympics and this time she's back on the team in Sochi looking for gold.

MONTAGNE: Eight U.S. Olympic hockey players have come from Warroad. Seven have brought home medals, and Beth Marvin can tell you about them all.

MARVIN: Well, the first one we had was Gordon Christian, who played in Cortina, Italy in 1956, and in 1960 his two younger brothers, Roger and Billy Christian, played out in Squaw Valley. His son, David, played in the 1980 Herb Brooks group.

GREENE: This is quite a list. You heard her mention Herb Brooks. He was the coach of the U.S. men's Olympic team that took gold at the 1980 Games in Lake Placid, defeating the mighty Soviet Union along the way. That team became known as the Miracle on Ice.

MARVIN: And I'm missing somebody. Henry Boucha played with the U.S. team in '72.

GREENE: And one other the town takes credit for...

MARVIN: Well, we caught Dan MacKinnon too. He was from a neighboring town, but he worked in Warroad and he does his hockey-playing in Warroad so he went in '56.

MONTAGNE: Then there are today's hockey heroes, GiGi Marvin and her high school classmate T.J. Oshie for the men. The U.S. men play in the quarter finals on Wednesday. And yes, it's true. The American men have never won hockey gold without a player from Warroad.

GREENE: On Thursday, Beth Marvin's granddaughter GiGi will be on the ice when the U.S. women go for gold against Canada. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.