VANCOUVER (AP) -- American curler Tracy Sachtjen doesn't need a reminder that she's the oldest U.S. Olympian in Vancouver.
She'll celebrate her 41st birthday during the Winter Games on Saturday. She also posed for a photo the other day with freestyle aerialist Ashley Caldwell, who is 16 - the same age as her daughter.
"I said: 'How old are you? Are you the youngest? I'm the oldest,'" Sachtjen recalled of their encounter. "I told her, 'You're the same age as my daughter.' She's like, 'We'll have to get a picture.'"
Sachtjen has John Benton, another 40-something whose teammates on the men's squad call him "great-grandpa," beat by four months. The two eldest athletes in the U.S. delegation are curlers.
"It's a very cool thing," Benton said.
Sachtjen is an alternate on the women's team and may never step on the ice in match play during these games. She will be ready if a teammate gets injured or sick, but curling rarely has in-game substitutions like basketball or football.
She's OK with that - and it doesn't always work that way with an alternate. Sometimes the backup pines to be on the ice and can cause tension on a team.
Sachtjen had her time in the spotlight. She was U.S. female curling athlete of the year in 1989, won a world championship in 2003 and captured five American titles.
A waterskiing accident in 2005 forced her out of the following curling season, and Sachtjen asked current Olympian and team lead Natalie Nicholson to take her spot.
When Sachtjen was asked to join the U.S. team, she figured she might be the oldest. She is still considerably younger than the oldest Olympian at the games - Mexican Alpine skier Hubertus von Hohenlohe, who turned 51 earlier this month.
"That makes me feel better," Sachtjen said, smiling. "I don't feel like I'm too old to be here because I feel like I can still play and can jump in on our team and do a good job."
Coach Wally Henry relies on Sachtjen for everything from statistical analysis and charting rocks to relaying the coaches' thoughts to players during matches.
It was Sachtjen who set up pre-Olympic manicures and pedicures for her teammates in Vancouver last week. When everybody else is done for the night, Sachtjen is the one hanging back at the venue to match stones - testing the rocks on the ice to make sure the right ones are paired up for competition.
"Tracy is a person who takes care of a lot of details for the team," Henry said. "She's very supportive and keeps the team pumped up, and keeps the negative stuff out."
Organizing comes naturally for Sachtjen: She's an events coordinator back home for the school district and YMCA in tiny Lodi, Wis. The town even named Feb. 3 Tracy Sachtjen Day.
She recently spoke to her son Desmon's third-grade class about life as an Olympian. She hopes she's viewed as a role model.
"I was telling them, Just so you know, that means that you can dream and set goals in your life and it doesn't matter what your age is," she said. "And you can achieve your goals and it doesn't matter what your age is."
She has still dealt with guilt as a mother. Her travel for curling has caused her to miss some of her kids' events. They soon will join her at Vancouver Olympic Centre, the sparkling new arena that will host curling beginning Tuesday.
"One of the things that I keep reminding myself, yes I am a mother but I'm also a person and I want to achieve my goals," Sachtjen said. "I'm hoping my children learn that, and I feel that they have."
Sachtjen and her teammates took to the Olympic ice Sunday for the first time, training on all four sheets. This venue is unique because it's set in the middle of an upscale residential neighborhood, with picturesque Queen Elizabeth Park right outside.
Curling is a friendly sport based on manners and deep tradition, one that can be played for decades - allowing older athletes to stay involved longer than in many other events.
"First of all, it's possible," Benton said of curling at any age. "Second of all, people want to. One thing about curling, once you're hooked, you're hooked."
The Vancouver Olympics and the medals race both finished in spectacular fashion for North Americans. The United States won 37 medals and Canada finished with 14 gold medals. Both are the best of these games and part of the greatest hauls ever at a Winter Olympics.
With one more perfect run down sliding's most difficult track, Steve Holcomb drove USA-1 to the Olympic gold medal in four-man bobsledding on Saturday, ending a 62-year drought for the Americans in the event.