By Far Cuai
This year’s Winter Olympic USA ice skating team has fourteen people participating, some are new to the games and others are veterans. The team has a total number of 14 members, five of which are returning and others that are new faces. The ice skating team consists of three women, three men, three ice dancers, and one pair.
During February 9th to 12th, the USA participated in the team event for figure skating, placing third, only four points away from getting the silver medal.
The athletes that participated in the team event are Nathan Chen, Adam Rippon, Mirai Nagasu, Bradie Tennell, Alex and Maia Shibutani, Alexa Scimeca Knierim and Chris Knierim. History was also made in the team event by Nagasu, who became the first U.S. woman to land a triple axel in the Olympics.
Mirai Nagasu is the oldest of the girls at 24 years old. She was born in Montebello, Los Angeles County, California to her Japanese immigrant parents. Nagasu participated in the 2010 Winter Olympics, coming in fourth for ladies singles. Unfortunately, she was not able to represent the U.S. in the 2014 Winter games. Her spot was given to Ashley Wagner, who came in fourth at the national championships.
Bradie Tennell is new to the Olympics and won first place at the U.S. national championship. She is 20 years of age, born on January 31st, 1998 in Winfield, Illinois. Until this year, Tennell was not very well-known, so it was a surprise to everyone that she came in first at this year’s national championship after coming in 9th last year.
Karen Chen, an American figure skater of Taiwanese descent, is eighteen years old and the youngest out of the three girls. She was born in Fremont, California, on August 16, 1999. Like Tennell, this year’s winter games are her first olympics. Chen came in third at this year’s nationals, causing her to secure a spot on the olympic team.
During the Olympics in the ladies short program, all three girls fell. Their falls landed Nagasu in 9th, Chen in 10th, and Tenell in 11th. These placements have been the lowest ever for U.S. ladies singles in the history of the winter games. Fortunately for them, it’s not over yet. They still have a chance a placing higher in the ladies single overall with the free skating program on February 22.
Nathan Chen is an American figure skater of Chinese descent, born in Salt Lake City, Utah on May 5, 1999. Coming in first at the 2018 US Championships, he was given a spot on the olympic team. Although it is his first Olympics, Chen is a fan favorite to win a medal at the games, possibly even gold.
Vincent Zhou is also an American figure skater of Chinese descent, like Chen. Zhou was born in San Jose, California on October 25, 2000. He placed third in the 2018 US Championships, only 0.68 points away from the silver medal. Not only is he the youngest member of the U.S. figure skating team, he is also the youngest olympian for USA team as a whole.
Adam Rippon is a 28 year old American figure skater who was born on November 11, 1989 in Scranton, Pennsylvania. Coming in fourth at the 2018 U.S. Championship, he was still selected to represent the U.S. at the winter games. This would also make him one of the first openly gay athletes in the winter olympics.
In the men’s single program, none of them placed high enough to win a medal. With Chen coming in 5th overall, Zhou right behind him in 6th, and Rippon in 10th. Although he didn’t win any medals, Chen set an Olympic record in the free skating program with the highest score ever at 215.08. Although, he was at first in 17th place after his score of 82.27 from the short program, the remarkable high score in the free skating program allowed him to go up 14 spots.
Maia and Alex Shibutani had participated in the 2014 olympics, but came in 9th. Maia is the younger one out of the two, being 23 years old. She was born in New York City on July 20, 1994. Alex is 26 years old, born on April 25, 1991 in Boston. Their parents are of Japanese descent. They came in second, winning a silver medal at the 2018 U.S. Figure Skating Championships, landing them a spot on the olympic team.
Madison Hubbell and Zachary Donohue make their first olympic debut this year. Madison Hubbell is 26 years old, born on February 24, 1991 in Lansing, Michigan. Zachary Donohue is 27 years old, born in Madison, Connecticut on January 8, 1991. After coming in third for three straight years in a row, they got first in the 2018 national championships, landing them a spot in the olympic team.
Madison Chock and Evan Bates are another ice dancing pair that also went to the 2014 Sochi olympics, but placed 8th. Madison Chock is an American ice dancer of Chinese-Hawaiian descent. She was born in Redondo Beach, California on July 2, 1992. Evan Bates is 28 years old, born on February 23, 1989 in Ann Arbor, Michigan. They finished third in the U.S. national championships, earning them another spot and a chance at an olympic medal.
USA won a medal for ice dancing thanks to Maria and Alex Shibutani. The Shib Sibs were able to win a bronze medal, beating out Madison Hubbell and Zachary Donohue who placed fourth after a small mistake they made near the end of their performance. Madison Chock and Evan Bates placed 9th overall, respectively, after their skates had locked together, causing them to tumble.
Alexa Scimeca Knierim is 26 years old being born in Addison, Illinois on June 10, 1991. Chris Knierim is 30 years old, the oldest on the U.S. ice skating team, was born on November 5, 1987 in Tucson, Arizona. After having to withdrawal from the last years U.S. national championships, due to Scimeca Knierim being diagnosed with a rare condition and weighing only 80 pounds, they made a huge comeback, placing first this year.
February 15th was not a good day for the couple after they placed 15th overall in the 2018 Olympic pair skating. They were in 14th for the short program and 15th for the free skating. This placement was even lower than the 2014 Sochi Olympics when Felicia Zhang and Nathan Bartholomay came in 14th.
All Photo Credit: Google Images