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Sara Melikian / Flickr

The Super Bowl-winning Seattle Seahawks had one. Professional baseball teams have them. And the U.S. Olympic women's ice hockey team found one in Tacoma. We’re talking about a mental skills coach.

And some of this coach's advice to U.S. Olympians could help the average recreational athlete, too.

Professor Colleen Hacker is taking a break from teaching exercise science and sports psychology at Pacific Lutheran University to travel to Russia with the U.S. men's and women's hockey teams for the Winter Olympics. Hacker's job title is “mental skills coach.” And what is that exactly?

Wikimedia Commons

The Seahawks will be riding the Ducks in Wednesday’s parade through downtown Seattle, but there's no word yet on whether they’ll be issued quacker noisemakers.

City spokesman Kyle Moore says the players, coaches and dignitaries, including Gov. Jay Inslee, Seattle Mayor Ed Murray and King County Executive Dow Constantine, will be in about two dozen amphibious Ride the Duck vehicles, which are more often associated with tourist excursions.

Paula Wissel

The day after the Seahawks won the Super Bowl, the team store at CenturyLink Field was doing brisk business. Fans crowded into the space, buying everything from towels to shirt to hats sporting the Super Bowl XLVIII logo.

Arby Asatorrians, who'd already waited in line to buy a hat, was holding a souvenir football he planned to purchase. 

“We were already downtown last night, celebrating after the game. I was wanting something to commemorate having a piece of the Super Bowl,” he said.  

Julio Cortez / AP Photo

The Seattle Seahawks' mantra all season was to make each day a championship day.

They made Super Bowl Sunday the best day of all with one of the greatest performances in an NFL title game — sparked by a defense that ranks among the best ever.

Sergei Kazantsev / Wikimedia

 

The 2014 Winter Olympics begin next week amid persistent concerns about security.

Recent bombings in Russia have stoked worries, but local athletes and coaches are expressing confidence they'll be safe in Sochi. Not a single member of this year's U.S. Olympic Team has changed his or her mind about going to Sochi because of the terrorism threat. 

Still, as American athletes leave for Russia this weekend, some are leaving their families behind.

Elaine Thompson / AP Photo

The rain didn’t dampen the spirit of Seahawks fans who turned out in force for a rally and flag signing at the Seattle Center on Wednesday.

After Mayor Ed Murray and former Seahawks players spoke from an open air stage, a 12th man flag that had flown on top of the Seattle Space Needle was taken down and put in a tent. Fans lined up to sign it.

Gift of John H. Hauberg 91.1.71

It was meant to be a friendly wager with a cultural twist: Seattle Art Museum and Denver Art Museum each bet a temporary loan of a work of art on the Super Bowl.

But SAM has withdrawn its original choice of artwork,"Forehead Mask" by the Nuxalk First Nation, at the request of the Nuxalk, and has replaced it with a different piece.

Jude Freeman / Wikimedia Commons

It's every Olympic athlete's worst nightmare. After years of preparing, training and fundraising, an accident just weeks before the Olympic Games derailed everything for Roberto Carcelen of Seattle.  

But the cross-country skier insists on competing at the Sochi Olympics despite a doctor's advice not to.

Florangela Davila

It isn’t just the Seahawks and the Broncos who are facing off in the Super Bowl on Sunday. The big game ups the ante for the teams' superfans — those over-the-top, devoted individuals who are fixtures off the field.

So how do the two teams' super fans match up? We teamed up with Colorado Public Radio to get up close and personal with four of these off-the-charts characters.

Dirk Heldmaier / Wikimedia

The Northwest contribution to U.S. Olympic team goes beyond athletes. A bunch of top coaches, ski tuners, wax technicians and physical therapists from here are Sochi-bound, too. And then there's the cross-country ski coach from Bend, Oregon who is heading to Russia, but not with Team USA.

J.D. Downing runs the XC Oregon race team and training camps in Bend. Now he's wearing several additional hats, including head coach and "chef de mission" for the 2014 Dominica Olympic Team. Not to be confused with the Dominican Republic, Dominica is a former French and British colony in the Eastern Caribbean.

Gift of John H. Hauberg 91.1.71

When the Seattle Seahawks take on the Denver Broncos in the Super Bowl on Sunday, the directors at two art museums will be paying close attention to the outcome of the game.

The Seattle Art Museum has bet the Denver Art Museum a temporary loan of a major work of art. The winner gets to display the loser's art, which will be on loan for three months.

Elaine Thompson / AP Photo

A University of Washington professor has come up with a 10-minute test to measure the fervor of your Seattle Seahawks fandom.

Psychologist Anthony Greenwald's test is designed to measure the strength of one’s support for a team over another.

Elaine Thompson / AP Photo

Post-game interviews of NFL players are almost always predictable and boring. They go something like this:

Reporter: "Congratulations. How did you guys turn the game around?"

Player: "One play at a time. The team stuck together. We worked hard. The good Lord was with us. The fans were great. Hi, Mom!"

In 20 seconds Sunday night on Fox-TV, Seattle Seahawks cornerback Richard Sherman gave one of the most memorable post-game interviews ever — and not just because he shattered the stereotype about how players behave in that situation.

Sarah Brunson / U.S. Freeskiing

It's not just the Seattle Seahawks in the Super Bowl that will make for an exciting February for Northwest sports fans. The Winter Olympics start just days later, and more Northwest athletes have punched their tickets to the Winter Games in Sochi, Russia.

Matt Slocum / AP Photo

Peyton Manning and the Denver Broncos will face the best defense they've met all season when they play Richard Sherman's Seattle Seahawks in the Super Bowl.

It will be a matchup between the NFL's No. 1 offense, led by Manning, against the NFL's No. 1 "D," led by Sherman, when the AFC's Broncos (15-3) take on the NFC's Seahawks (15-3) on Feb. 2 at MetLife Stadium in East Rutherford, N.J.

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