Gigi Marvin is making her Olympic debut in Vancouver, after playing in three world championships for Team USA. Marvin won gold in 2008 and 2009, and silver in 2007, her first world championship tournament. She also played four seasons at the University of Minnesota, graduating in 2009, and finished her career sixth on the team's all-time scoring list.
Growing up in Warroad, Minn., Marvin learned to skate by the time she was 2 years old. Hockey is a way of life in Warroad, a small town of about 1,500 people near the Canadian border. She and her younger brother, Aaron, started playing hockey as kids, because "that's what kids in Warroad did and still do," Marvin said. She is the latest in a line of Olympians from Warroad, though she is the first woman, and hopes to join the list of those who have won a gold medal. Roger and Bill Christian did that in 1960, and Bill's son Dave in 1980. Three other Warroad natives played in the Olympics and won silver or bronze.
Hockey is also a family thing for Marvin - her grandfather, Cal Marvin, is among the patriarchs of the sport in Warroad. Marvin, a World War II veteran, was among the founders of the University of North Dakota's hockey program in 1947. The Marvins have been Sioux fans ever since, even though Gigi became a Gopher. "If you ask them, they will never say they cheered for the Gophers," she said, "They say they cheered for me." Cal Marvin died in 2004, but not before Gigi gave him the news. "I remember telling my grandfather+, and he said he'd support me no matter what." Gigi's brother, Aaron, now plays at St. Cloud State, another of North Dakota's rivals.
During her career at Minnesota, Marvin twice finished in the top 10 for the Patty Kazmaier Award, given to the nation's top college player. Her senior year, she scored 57 points and helped carry the team to the Frozen Four, along with U.S. teammates Monique and Jocelyne Lamoureux, who were freshmen. Marvin led the team in scoring her sophomore and junior years, and was third in scoring her senior year, behind the Lamoureux twins - who transferred to North Dakota after their first season.
Marvin is a big Vikings fan and will watch any NHL game. "Pretty much any sport, tennis, golf football, you name it I love it," she said. She is also a Minnesota Wild fan, but hangs on to one former North Star. "I'll always cheer for Mike Modano," she said. Marvin is interested in a career in sports after hockey. She graduated from Minnesota with a degree in broadcast journalism and has a job in mind. "I love SportsCenter," she said. "My dream job is co-anchor with Stuart Scott on SportsCenter."
Playing with the boys during her early hockey career, Marvin used to dream of playing in the NHL. That changed in 1998, when she watched the U.S. women's team win gold in Nagano. Now, 12 years later, she is playing on a team with two of the players she watched in that game: Angela Ruggiero and Jenny Potter. Marvin says she has learned a lot from them, though the age gap sometimes surprises her. "We were just in Finland and Jenny Potter made a side comment about how different the arena is from 1999," she said. "I'm thinking, ‘Holy cow, I was in fourth grade in 1999, and she was two or three years into the national team!' "
As the pilot for the USA-1 bobsled, I broke a 62-year gold medal drought when my sled, the 'Night Train" won the Olympic title at the 2010 Vancouver Games. A degenerative eye condition nearly caused me to quit my sport in 2008, but corrective surgery restored my vision to 20-20.