By Jeremiah Vaille
The 2022 Beijing Winter Olympic Games have begun and will continue until February 20th. Colorado is well represented at the Olympics this year. Of the 224 athletes selected to represent Team USA, 23 currently call Colorado home. Additionally, 31 athletes in total were either born in Colorado or live and train in Colorado. Of all the states, Colorado will have the second most athletes at the Olympics; only behind California which has a population nearly 7 times greater. Since Colorado has so many athletes currently at the Winter Olympics, there are several that Mines students should be watching for. Three athletes are from Jefferson County and others will be looking for repeats of gold medals and podium placements.
Stacy Gaskill, of our own Golden, Colorado, is competing in the boardercross event. Gaskill went to nearby Lakewood High School and now attends the University of Colorado in Boulder. She is also a member of the CU and National Ultimate Frisbee teams. Gaskill’s website says, “My dream is to compete in the 2022 Winter Olympics in Beijing, and the 2028 Summer Olympics in Ultimate Frisbee.” As a local athlete, Stacy Gaskill is one member of Team USA that we should be watching and cheering for.
Nicole Hensley is a gold medalist also representing Colorado and Jefferson County at the Winter Olympics. Hensley is returning for her second Olympic appearance after being a member of the gold medal winning USA hockey team from the 2018 Winter Olympics. Hensley plays the position of goalie, so watch the women’s hockey team to see a Lakewood local defend against quick puck movements on the ice.
Figure skater, Mariah Bell also has local roots in Jefferson County. Although she calls Monument, Colorado her hometown, Bell graduated from Ralston Valley High School in Arvada. This January, Bell won her first U.S. title at 25 years old. This makes her the oldest U.S. women’s champion since 1927.
The youngest US figure skater, and youngest athlete representing Team USA is also from Colorado. Alysa Liu is only 16 years old and already has a long list of accomplishments. Liu was the youngest U.S. champion ever when she earned her first title at 13. She was also the first woman to ever land a triple axel and quadruple jump in the same program in 2019. With her already impressive list of accomplishments, Liu will be an icon to watch in this year’s Olympic events and future competitions.
With her 5th appearance at the Olympics, Katie Uhlaender has tied the record for most Olympic appearances by an American woman. She is competing in skeleton as one of the three members of the whole US delegation for the sport. Uhlaender was born in Vail and calls Breckenridge home.
Red Gerard is another athlete who has already made history. At the 2018 Winter Olympics, Gerard was the first American gold medalist and the youngest American medalist in snowboarding when he won gold in slopestyle at just 17. Gerard lives in Silverthorn and trains in his very own backyard trick park as well as other local resorts.
One last Colorado athlete to watch is alpine skier, Mikaela Shiffrin. Shiffrin is making her third Olympic appearance right now and is racing for medals. Shiffrin already has two Olympic gold medals and is the most decorated female American alpine skier in world cup history.
The full list of Colorado athletes and their respective sports is listed below.
Mariah Bell (Figure Skating), Aaron Blunck (Freestyle Skiing), Chris Corning (Snowboarding), Mick Dierdorff (Snowboarding), Hanna Faulhaber (Freestyle Skiing), Alex Ferreira (Freestyle Skiing – Halfpipe), Taylor Flecher (Nordic Combined), Lucas Foster (Snowboarding), Brandon Frazier (Figure Skating – Pairs), Stacy Gaskill (Gaskill), Red Gerard (Snowboarding), Taylor Gold (Snowboarding), Jasper Good (Nordic Combined), Nichole Hensley (Hockey), Birk Irving (Freestyle Skiing), Jaelin Kauf (Freestyle Skiing), Hagen Kearney (Snowboarding), Alysa Liu (Figure Skating), Leif Nordgren (Biathlon), Nina O’Brien (Alpine Skiing), Kai Owens (Freestyle Skiing), River Radamus (Alpine Skiing), Joanne Reid (Biathlon), Mikaela Shiffrin (Alpine Skiing), Nicholas Shore (Hockey), Hailey Swirbul (Cross-country Skiing), Meghan Tierney (Snowboarding), Katie Uhlaender (Skeleton), Dylan Walczyk (Freestyle Skiing), Cody Winters (Snowboarding), and Vincent Zhou (Figure Skating)