courtesy @usahockey on Twitter

Top US athletes to look for during Winter Olympics

Sports editor Callie Hummel discuss the competitors at the 2022 Winter Olympics

On Jan. 16, the Olympic Qualifiers officially ended and the teams were determined for the 2022 Winter Olympics in Beijing. Although the Summer Olympics in 2020 were postponed to the summer of 2021, the winter athletes are still on track for competing normally from Feb. 4- 20.

Shaun White will be returning for his fifth Olympics, snowboarding the halfpipe. In his first Olympics, White won the gold medal at only 19 years old. In total, he’s won three gold medals in his four appearances at the Olympics. White also holds the record for the most Olympic gold medals by a snowboarder. While he has announced that 2022 will be his last Olympics, a gold medal this year could help him set the bar even higher for future halfpipe snowboarders.

Red Gerard, a fellow snowboarder who specializes in slopestyle/big air, caught the nation’s attention at the previous Olympics. The 17-year-old at the time announced after winning his gold medal that he slept through his alarm, lost his Team USA coat and had to borrow his teammates to compete. Gerard is the youngest gold medal snowboarder in history. In the four years between the Olympics, he’s continued to compete in the X Games and other major snowboarding tournaments.

Another returner to the Winter Olympics, Mikaela Shiffrin, an alpine skier in her third time competing, won gold both previous times. In February 2021, she became the most decorated female skier in the United States with six world champion titles at the Alpine World Ski Championships. Winning a third medal at the Olympics this year would push Shiffrin farther towards being a historic skier.

The 2022 Winter Olympics brings lots of new athletes to the Games for the first time. Matty Berniers, a center for the US hockey team, is currently the youngest player on the team at 19 years old. Athletes competing in the NHL are still not allowed to play in the Olympics, so Beniers postponed his 2021 NHL draft offer to compete in the 2022 Winter Olympics. Attention has turned to him after assisting his team in the 2021 World Junior Championships and being an important scorer on his college team, the University of Michigan.

Winter Vinecki is also competing for Team USA for the first time in aerial skiing. Skiers gain momentum going down a steep slope before launching off a jump to perform flips in the air, and then landing on a slight slope. For such a complicated and dynamic sport, Vinecki only started training in 2011 when an aerial skier recruited her to come train after seeing Vinecki’s speed skiing highlights. Prior to training aerials, Vinecki competed in triathlons and other running events, and, before the age of 15, she became the youngest person to run a marathon on all seven continents.

There are more than 600 athletes competing for the United States in seven different sports, and 15 different disciplines are encapsulated in those sports. Similar to the Summer Olympics, athletes are required to be vaccinated and quarantined upon arrival to Beijing for 21 days to try and ensure all athletes who earned their spot on the national teams will be able to compete.

Post Author: Callie Hummel