Winter Games Athletes
It’s been a long and at times extremely painful road, but Gunther will finally make her Olympic debut in Sochi. An alternate on the U.S. team in the 1,000 meters for the 2010 Vancouver Games, Gunther skated a personal-best time of 1:16.43 in the same event at the recent national Olympic trials to secure her spot on the 2014 team headed to Russia. It's quite an accomplishment for an athlete whose skating career was in jeopardy four years ago. One month after the disappointment that came with not competing in Vancouver, Gunther fell during a race and slid toward a barrier surrounding the track. Her left skate stuck to the wall and her right skate came down, slicing the bone below her left ankle in half. Gunther suffered a double compound fracture and almost faced amputation of her foot. She went through rigorous rehabilitation and after six months was back on skates and ready to compete. She would go on to also set personal bests in the 500 (39.14 seconds) in 2011, the 3,000 (4:16.27) and the 5,000 (7:43.77) in 2012, and the 1,500 (1:58.65) at the December 2013 Olympic trials. Though Gunther fulfilled her dream of qualifying for the Olympics, she remains a long shot to place among the top 3 in the 1,000, especially with U.S. teammates Heather Richardson and Brittany Bowe considered strong medal contenders in the event in Sochi.