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Team USA Hockey brings home gold

Sophomore+defender+Jackson+Marthaler+bites+into+his+gold+medal+on+Jan.+31%2C+2024+in+Gangwon%2C+South+Korea.+Marthaler+won+the+championship+game+against+Czechia+to+take+first+place+in+the+Winter+Youth+Olympic+Games.
Submitted by Jackson Marthaler
Sophomore defender Jackson Marthaler bites into his gold medal on Jan. 31, 2024 in Gangwon, South Korea. Marthaler won the championship game against Czechia to take first place in the Winter Youth Olympic Games.

Sophomore defenseman Jackson Marthaler brought home a gold medal from the Winter Youth Olympic Games in Gangwon, South Korea on Jan, 31, 2024. 

 

Marthaler was given a formal send off by classmates, staff, family and the community in the Spartan Arena as he was on his way to San Diego, California on Jan. 18, 2024 for a week of practice before heading to South Korea for the games.

 

Out of the 17 man roster Marthaler was the only one to represent Wisconsin. 

 

Marthaler’s pre-game rituals looked different in Gangwon because of the time they had before the game. 

 

“I mean, at home I usually have a little more time at the rink then we had over there, but I’m not too superstitious, I like to stick handle and stretch out and stuff like that, but if I’m running short on time, I can take a few things out. I was able to adapt pretty easily, and not a huge deal in terms of pre-game,” said Marthaler.

Sophomore defender Jackson Marthaler stands on the goal line before their game against Denfeld, Dec. 14. The teams faced off at Wessman Arena. (Mike Fiegle)

Although Marthaler said he doesn’t have any superstitions his teammates think differently. 

 

“He likes to get to the rink and stick handle for like 30 minutes, and then he’ll tape his stick,” said sophomore forward Brayden Severin. 

 

Marthalers pre-game song has stayed consistent over the years, “I like ‘Glorious’ by Macklemore. I’ve probably been listening to it since I was pretty young. I heard it one day in the locker room from another team. I might have been nine or something like that, and it’s been my thing ever since,” said Marthaler.

 

The USA won their first game against Slovakia 5-4 in a shootout on Jan. 27, 2024. At the beginning of the third period Marthaler assisted forward Cole Bumgarner from Shakopee, Minnesota in the team’s third goal of the game. 

 

They lost their second game against Czechia with a score of 6-5 in a shootout on Jan. 29, 2024. Marthaler helped gain USA’s first goal during the first period, assisting Abe Barnett from Glencoe, IL.

 

USA beat Canada 6-5 in the Semifinals on Jan. 30, 2024 that ended in a shootout. 

 

USA played Czechia for the gold medal game on Jan. 31, 2024, winning the game ending 4-0. 

 

“I think my best memory for me is being arm and arm with my teammates and just seeing  that USA flag raised above everybody else, gold medal round your neck, that’s something I’ll never forget. That was an amazing group of guys, amazing group of players, and I think friendships that will last forever,” said Marthaler.

 

Outside of the games, Marthaler was unable to spend much time exploring South Korea. 

 

“We were pretty isolated in the village, so I can’t say that I truly experienced the culture a whole lot, but I know obviously the way they do things is a lot different,” said Marthaler. 

 

Despite not being able to explore South Korea much, Marthaler was able to interact with many different people. 

 

“The people are very, very nice there, and everybody when they walk by there, they’re greeting you and waving,” Marthaler said. 

 

Marthaler was the second Spartan to go to the Youth Olympic games, the first being Marty Wiitala who was a member of the USA World Junior Hockey team in 1984 where they placed sixth. Wiitala played hockey for the Spartans and graduated in 1982. Wiitala went on and played for the University of Wisconsin Madison for 4 years following highschool. 

 

After two weeks away from his Spartan teammates, Marthaler made his return. Marthaler flew to Milwaukee, Wisconsin from Gangwon, South Korea to make it to the Spartans hockey game against the University School of Milwaukee (USM) on Feb. 3, 2024.

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