At the Summer Olympics, the University of Southern California is a titan, and has sent more athletes to the Olympics than any other university (396). Since 1912, USC-affiliated athletes have collected at least one gold medal in every Summer Olympics.
But the warm Los Angeles climate doesn’t lend itself to training for winter sports, so Winter Games athletes from USC are few and far between. Which leads us to ask: Which college is the USC of the Winter Olympics?
For our answer we head to Salt Lake City, Utah - home of the 2002 Olympic Games - to find the hotbed for cold weather athletes.
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With the 2002 Olympic practice site nearby, the school's location is enviable for aspiring Olympians, and there's a partnership with the U.S. Ski and Snowboard Association that assists student athletes financially. The USSA has footed the bill for more than 120 national team athletes to attend Westminster, which is nothing to sneeze at considering tuition costs about $29,500 a year for a full-time student.
Among the Westminster athletes are some of the top contenders to take home hardware in Sochi. Moguls skier Heather McPhie had a disappointing Vancouver showing with an 18th place finish, but since then she’s nabbed three World Cup wins and is eyeing the Olympics podium. At Westminster, McPhie is a junior who is studying psychology.
Lindsey Jacobellis, an undeclared freshman and snowboardcross athlete, is looking for gold in the 2014 games after failing to medal at Vancouver in 2010 and a silver at the 2006 Turin Games.
While silver hardly seems disappointing, Jacobellis memorably attempted a trick on the second-to-last jump while decisively in the lead, but fell on the landing and lost what was surely gold. Jacobellis has eight X Games gold medals in snowboardcross (a record), including a recent win at the 2014 Winter X Games on Jan. 24.
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Ivy league school Dartmouth College will send the second-most Winter Olympians, with nine representing the United States (three others will compete under the flags of different countries). Notable Dartmouth athletes include the reigning gold medalist in freestyle moguls skiing, Hannah Kearney, who is looking to defend her title in Sochi.