The 2022 Winter Olympics in Beijing will officially begin with opening ceremonies on February 4. Here are some of America’s top athletes to watch as competition begins.
Will Mikaela Shiffrin continue her dominance?
She won the last women’s World Cup slalom before the Beijing Olympics. It was Shiffrin’s 47th career victory in slalom, making her the first skier in World Cup history to win that many races in a single discipline. Shiffrin, who won gold in slalom at the 2014 Sochi Olympics and giant slalom at the 2018 Pyeongchang Olympics, is expected to be one of the top contenders for this year’s Games.
The freestyle skier heads to Beijing and is a favorite for Olympic medals. Alex Ferreira, who is the son of a Argentinian professional footballer, won silver after his performance in the halfpipe skiing in Pyeongchang and won the X Games Aspen in 2019 and 2020.
United States women’s national ice hockey team
USA Hockey unveiled its listing for the women’s ice hockey team this month, and they are ready to defend their gold medal in Beijing.
Of their 23 players, 15 have previous Olympic experience. Among them, striker Hilary Knight returns for her fourth Olympic Games. Team USA’s ongoing rivalry with Canada, who have four gold medals in this event, will be on TV if they meet again in the final.
Erin Jackson, the world’s top female speed skater, will make her second Olympic appearance after her Team USA teammate Brittany Bowe waived her spot.
Jackson, 29, is just months away from winning the speed skating World Cup, becoming the first black woman to do so. She is currently ranked No. 1 in the women’s 500 meters by the International Skating Union and will compete in the same event in Beijing.
Curling legend John Shuster will be back for this fifth Olympic Winter Games.
After two disappointing back-to-back Olympic appearances in 2010 and 2014, Shuster and his team finally won gold in 2018, a first for the Americans in this event. No one has ever won several gold medals in men’s curling, but Shuster and his team want to give it a try, telling his team is “full of fighters”.
Triple Olympic medalist Elana Meyers-Taylor heads to Beijing as the favorite in monobob – the individual version of bobsledding – which will make its Olympic debut in February.
Meyers Taylor secured the women’s monobob world cup overall title and knows her way around a bobsleigh – she won silver in 2018 and 2014 and won bronze in 2010 in the two-woman bobsleigh.
After a frightening crash in Emily Sweeney’s last race that knocked her out of the Pyeongchang Olympics, the luge racer will be back for the Beijing Olympics.
The incident broke his neck and back and nearly ended his career. Since then she has documented his recovery and although she admits that she is sometimes afraid, she said Beijing will have another chance to win a medal. She is also part of the Army’s World Class Athlete Program.
Chloe Kim turned heads in Pyeongchang four years ago when, aged 17, she won gold in the halfpipe, becoming the youngest American to ever win a medal in snowboarding. Now she is once again favored to repeat as the Olympic halfpipe champion.
Despite her success, she recently shared her mental health issues and the pressure of expectations as an Olympian. Part of the reason she’s comfortable going out in public is because “people are starting to become more tolerant and also talk about these [mental health] no more problems,” she said.
The 25-year-old figure skater won a national championship this month, becoming the oldest woman to hold the title since 1927. It was her ninth national championship appearance and her first title. Bell, a two-time Olympic medalist, now has her sights set on Beijing. No individual women 25 or older figure skating for Team USA at the Winter Olympics since 1928.
“Age is literally a number,” Bell said NBC Sports. “It doesn’t mean anything. If you have a dream, there’s no limit to how long you have to achieve that dream, of course.”
Shaun White will do his fifth participation in the Olympic Games after finishing fourth among Americans in the World snowboard points list before Beijing. He has three gold medals in halfpipe, from 2006, 2014 and 2018, making him the most decorated male Olympic snowboarder.
This will likely be the curtain call for White’s Olympic career. He said Rolling Stone Review he wants to withdraw from the Games after Beijing.
Chen, 22, recently won his sixth figure skating championship and is now aiming for gold in Beijing.
Predicted to be one of the top contenders for the 2018 Pyeongchang Olympics, he failed to medal in the individual event. However, he won a bronze medal in the team event.