Bellingham mom savors the moment during Winter Olympic Opening Ceremony

Angeli VanLaanen walks with Team USA


The mother of Bellingham's first female Olympian said she watched the television broadcast with great pride as her daughter, Angeli VanLaanen, walked in as part of Team USA during the Winter Olympic Opening Ceremonies from Sochi, Russia, on Friday, Feb. 7.

"I'm just so very proud of watching my girl succeed and knowing that she accomplished something that she set her heart to do," said Allain VanLaanen, who still lives in Bellingham. "I have had all these feelings, like any mom would watching their child reach the peak of their athletic position."

Angeli, 28, became the first Bellingham-born Winter Olympian when she qualified to compete in the Olympic debut of women's freeskiing halfpipe last month.

That competition is scheduled for Feb. 20, but the 2004 Bellingham High School graduate said last month she was particularly excited to walk in the Opening Ceremonies with the other athletes representing her country.

Though she was a half a world away in Bellingham on Friday, Angeli's mother was just as excited. Allain said she couldn't pick Angeli out in the U.S. contingent when the Americans marched in during the broadcast of the ceremonies, but she planned to, "watch it again to see if I can find her."

"It's heart warming, really," Allain said. "I keep thinking of her as a 7-year-old and knowing how long this has been a goal for her. … I'm excited beyond comprehension."

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