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Idaho's Andrew Blaser 21st after first two skeleton heats at Winter Olympics

This is the first Olympics for the Meridian High alum and Capital High assistant volleyball & track coach, who's the only U.S. man in the skeleton event.

BOISE, Idaho — Sledding head-first down an icy chute at speeds of up to 80 miles per hour, chasing Olympic gold -- sounds like a job for an Idahoan. That's exactly what Andrew Blaser, who grew up in Meridian, is doing at the Winter Olympics in Beijing.

Blaser, who's 32 years old, is one of three athletes named to the 2022 U.S. Olympic skeleton team, along with two women, Kelly Curtis and Katie Uhlaender.

The two preliminary heats for the skeleton competition took place Wednesday night (Thursday morning in China). Blaser is in 21st place after those heats. He completed his first heat in 1:01.80, and the second in 1:02.08.

Heats 3-4 are scheduled for Friday, February 11, starting at 5:20 a.m. MST (livestream link). On cable and satellite, USA will have coverage starting at 6 a.m. MST Friday.

This is the first Olympics for Blaser, and he's quickly learning about the perks that come with being an Olympian.

He’s got tons of new free gear.

He’s getting an invitation to the White House.

And his favorite singer took notice of him on social media.

Actress and Grammy winner Sara Bareilles gave him a shoutout on Instagram on Tuesday.

Blaser shot his shot on Monday, tagging Bareilles on his Instagram Stories and telling her “you are my favorite musician... will you watch me in the Olympics?” And he got his reply a few hours later, when Bareilles told him “I am rooting for you.”

He was beaming all the way through his training runs on Tuesday.

“Greatest thing that ever happened to me,” he said. “I listen to her every day when I’m warming up.”

While that's a memory Blaser can carry in his heart and mind forever, Instagram Stories posts go away after just 24 hours. However, this story about the expressions of mutual admiration between Olympian and singer has been picked up by news outlets around the country, and we'll always have the tweets.

Blaser graduated from Meridian High School and is a University of Idaho alum. He works as an assistant volleyball & track coach at Capital High School in Boise. Blaser is also a coach in the YMCA-Team Idaho track program.

As a Vandal student-athlete, Blaser majored in food and nutrition, and competed in decathlon, volleyball and cheerleading. He earned eight first-team Western Athletic Conference bids as a member of the Vandal indoor and outdoor track and field teams.

According to Blaser's Team USA bio, he began competing in skeleton as a family joke. Since then, he's become a serious competitor in the sport. Highlights of Blaser's skeleton career include four North American Cup gold medals during the 2018-2019 season, and several World Cup showings during the 2019-2020 season.

Blaser is one of several athletes with Idaho ties slated to compete in this year's Winter Olympics.

Victor native Breezy Johnson, an alpine skier, was set to compete in her second Olympics, but announced on Jan. 25 that a knee injury has forced her to withdraw.

Beijing is the fourth Winter Olympics appearance for Hilary Knight of Sun Valley - who won gold as a member of the 2018 U.S. women's hockey team.

U.S. Ski and Snowboard announced the Olympic snowboarding team Friday, Jan. 21. Chase Josey of Hailey will compete in the men's halfpipe.

A brother and sister born in McCall, Caitlin and Scott Patterson, are on the U.S. cross country skiing team for the Winter Olympics.

Also competing in cross country skiing is Kevin Bolger, who trains with the Sun Valley Ski Education Foundation. Bolger is originally from Wisconsin and lives in Utah.

So proud of Coach Blaser! Olympian! 🇺🇲 #likeaneagle🦅 #Repost @capitalvolleyball ... Our very own coach Andrew was just...

Posted by Capital High School - Boise on Saturday, January 15, 2022

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