Homer athlete qualifies for Olympic Cycling team

Faulkner said her youth in Alaska contributed to her position with the Olympics now.

Former Homer resident Kristen Faulkner is headed to the 2024 Olympic Games in Paris with the U.S. Cycling Team. Faulkner will join Team Pursuit when the Games start on July 26. This is Faulkner’s first year with the team.

Currently, Faulkner is attending a three-week Olympic training camp in Colorado Springs, Colorado. The camp has a velodrome facility — an indoor cycling track similar to the one that will be used in Paris. Faulkner noted that the training center is located at high altitude, 6,035 feet, so the athletes are receiving altitude training, as well. She will head to Europe in mid-July for final training and adjustments to the Olympic facility. Team Pursuit’s first event will take place on Aug. 6.

Faulkner, 31, is a new member to the Olympic Team Pursuit squad. According to her profile background on the Olympic website, she has only been road racing since 2020 — an unusual accomplishment as most cyclists start athletic pursuits much earlier. Prior to cycling, Faulkner has also pursued sports goals in swimming, running and rowing. She was a varsity rower at Harvard University for several years and placed second at the Junior World rowing Championship in 2010, according to her website.

Faulkner, who grew up in Homer, told the Homer News how her youth here has contributed to her position with the Olympics now. “When I was younger, I would bike around town; it was kind of my way of getting independence and freedom as a little kid.”

She said she’s always enjoyed biking but as a child she never did it competitively. Faulkner moved to Manhattan after college and because she missed the outdoors environment that she had in Alaska as a child she would go running or biking every morning in Central Park. “That was my way to feel like I had semblance of the outdoors, even though I was in New York.”

Eventually, she joined a cycling team in the city and started doing some races and then winning some races. In 2011, Faulkner left her job to pursue cycling full time.

Faulkner mentioned some of her early teachers and swim coaches in Homer who contributed to her development, “not just as an athlete, but as a full person.”

Specifically, she noted intermediate school teachers Shirley Gribble, Linda Rourke and Gary Kirby; Homer Junior High School’s Tim Daugharty and coach Lucy Mahan and other high school swim coaches.

“I think that’s because Homer’s such a small town, everyone kind of knows everyone. They knew my parents, they knew my siblings, they knew my classmates and I think because of that the teachers really cared about us,” she said.

Faulkner said that when she went to high school, away from Homer and then college, that personal attention and truly knowing the identity of the students was something she always valued and looked for in later coaches.

“Someone who saw me as a whole person and understood the different aspects of my life and never treated me just like an athlete,” she said.

“I think that’s been a pretty big part of my success … making sure that I work with people who understand and care about all aspects of my life. Growing up in a small town and having that from a very early age taught me how important it was.”

Faulkner said it’s been nice hearing from people she swam and attended school with in Homer who have reached out to her.

“It just feels really nice to have that support from Homer, because so much of my cycling job is in Europe. Support from my hometown, really special. I just want to say thank you to everyone for that.”