(BEIJING) — One of the most popular sports at the Winter Olympics is about to get underway in Beijing: figure skating. Lacing up their skates for the U.S. Olympic team are various world champions, repeat Olympians and history-makers.
The U.S. has multiple athletes competing in all figure skating disciplines — men’s singles, women’s singles, pairs and ice dance. Each member of the team is eligible to compete in their respective Olympic team events.
The action kicks off Thursday night Eastern Standard Time, with the men’s short program team event, and runs throughout most of the Games.
Here’s a look at the 16 skaters representing Team USA at the Beijing Winter Olympics:
Jason Brown, 27
Brown made his first Olympics appearance in the 2014 Sochi Games, where he took home bronze in the team event and placed ninth overall — and also became known for his signature ponytail. After being selected as the first alternate for the PyeongChang 2018 Games, he’s in Beijing for his second Olympics — sans ponytail. The charismatic skater came in fourth at the U.S. Nationals, though fared well at the senior level, including medaling at both of his Grand Prix Series assignments, to make the Olympic team.
Nathan Chen, 22
One of the biggest names in the sport and a clear gold-medal contender, Chen is a three-time World champion (2018, 2019 and 2021) and comes into the Olympics winning his sixth straight national figure skating championship. Beijing marks his second Olympics; at the 2018 PyeongChang Games, he earned bronze in the team event though failed to make the podium in singles, finishing fifth overall. But he made history there, becoming the first skater to land six quadruple jumps in a single program while also earning the highest free skate score ever in an Olympic competition. The athlete took time off from Yale University to train for the 2022 Olympics and plans to return to the school in the fall.
Vincent Zhou, 21
Zhou returns to the Olympics after placing sixth in PyeongChang, where he made history as the first skater to land a quadruple lutz in the Games. He is a five-time U.S. national medalist, who took home bronze at the 2022 championships. Zhou, whose parents are first-generation Chinese immigrants, said he chose “Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon” as his free skate song in a nod to his heritage.
Watch the competition:
- Feb. 3 at 8:55 p.m.: Short program team event
- Feb. 5 at 10:50 p.m.: Free skating team event
- Feb. 7 at 8:15 p.m.: Short program
- Feb. 9 at 8:30 p.m.: Free skating
Mariah Bell, 25
Bell is making her first appearance at the Olympics. She took the 2022 U.S. championship title — becoming the oldest U.S. women’s national champion in 95 years. She previously earned silver (2020) and bronze (2019, 2017) at nationals, and is the 2020 Guaranteed Rate Skate America champion. In her latest World Championships appearance, in 2019, she placed ninth. Her coaches include Olympian and figure skating star Adam Rippon.
Karen Chen, 22
Chen debated retiring from the sport after her 11th-place finish at the 2018 PyeongChang Games and enrolling in Cornell University. But she took time off from school to pursue a second Olympics appearance. She is the 2017 U.S. champion and took silver at this year’s nationals. Her fourth-place finish at the 2021 World Championships helped the U.S. secure three women’s entries for the Beijing Games.
Alysa Liu, 16
The youngest team member, Liu, is making her first Olympic appearance in Beijing. The two-time, back-to-back national champion became the youngest to win the title at 13 in 2019. She had to withdraw from this year’s championships after testing positive for COVID-19, but was able to make the Olympic team after petitioning for a spot. Known for her challenging skillset, Liu is the first American skater to successfully land a quadruple jump in competition and the first woman to land both a quadruple jump and a triple axel in the same program.
Watch the competition:
- Feb. 5 at 8:30 p.m.: Short program team event
- Feb. 6 at 10:35 p.m.: Free skating team event
- Feb. 15 at 5 a.m.: Short program
- Feb. 17 at 5 a.m.: Free skating
Ashley Cain-Gribble, 26, and Timothy LeDuc, 31
The 2022 and 2019 U.S. champions are making their Olympic debut after skating together for six years. LeDuc is also the first openly non-binary athlete to compete at the Winter Olympics. Figure skating is in Cain-Gribble’s blood; she is the daughter of Peter Cain, an Australian who competed at the 1980 Lake Placid Games in pair skating with his sister, Elizabeth Cain. Her mother, Darlene Cain, also competed in ice dance for Canada. Her parents are among their coaches.
Alexa Knierim, 30, and Brandon Frazier, 29
The pair won the 2021 U.S. championships during their first season competing together, earning the highest score ever achieved in U.S. competition. They had to bow out of this year’s U.S. championships after Frazier tested positive for COVID-19, but they were able to be considered for the Olympic team via a petition process. This is Frazier’s first Olympics and Knierim’s second; she competed in the 2018 PyeongChang Games with her husband, Chris Knierim, where they won bronze as part of the team event. Chris Knierim has since retired and is now one of duo’s coaches.
Watch the competition:
- Feb. 4 at 12:15 a.m. ET: Short program team event
- Feb. 6 at 8:15 p.m. ET: Free skating team event
- Feb. 18 at 5:30 a.m. ET: Short program
- Feb. 19 at 6 a.m. ET: Free skating
Madison Chock, 29, and Evan Bates, 32
The 2022 U.S. champions are marking their third Olympic appearance together, while Bates marks his fourth, becoming the first American figure skater to compete at four Winter Games. The pair, who have been skating together for over 10 years, come into the Games ranked second in the world. The two are a couple both on and off the ice and find time to host their own figure skating podcast, “Unlaced with Chock & Bates.”
Kaitlin Hawayek, 25, and Jean-Luc Baker, 28
This marks the first Olympic appearance for the duo, who have been skating together for 10 years. The pair have earned bronze at four straight U.S. championships starting in 2019 and are the 2018 Four Continents champions. Baker is of Olympic pedigree: His mother, Sharon Jones Baker, represented the United Kingdom in ice dancing at the 1988 Calgary Olympics.
Madison Hubbell, 30, and Zachary Donohue, 31
After more than a decade as partners, this marks the second and last Olympics for the pair, who announced they plan to retire after this season. The decorated duo won the U.S. title in 2018, 2019 and 2021, and placed silver in the competition this year. They are also three-time World Championship medalists, most recently winning silver in 2021. At the 2018 Olympic Games, they were just shy of medaling, finishing fourth.
Watch the competition:
- Feb 3 at 10:35 p.m. ET: Rhythm dance team event
- Feb 6 at 9:30 p.m. ET: Free dance team event
- Feb 12 at 6 a.m. ET: Rhythm dance
- Feb. 13 at 8:15 p.m. ET: Free dance
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