It’s no surprise we will be seeing fresh generations of young athletes making their debuts at the 2022 Beijing Winter Games.
Every Olympics, the world witnesses a plethora of veteran athletes who have prepared, battled and even medaled. And every year, we are introduced to emerging blank slates of athletes yearning to achieve that same level of greatness.
This year we have an incredible new band of blooming contenders. Here are some of the youngest Olympic athletes planning to make a splash at Beijing, starting with Team USA:
Tessa Maud - 18
This 14-year old sensation is taking on the Olympic slopes for the first time at this year's Games. She will be representing Team USA in snowboard halfpipe.
Maud is one of the youngest riders on the team and will representing Team USA in her debut Olympics. Her family and friends are absolutely elated. "This has been her goal since she was a little kid," said Maud's father John. "There are no expectations for her to come back with a medal or anything like that."
The Carlsbad native began snowboarding at just age 4. She was introduced to the icy hobby by her parents, who also had a passion for the sport.
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Maud placed second in the junior world championships in both 2018 and 2019. Fast forward to 2022, and the young Olympian is competing for gold!
"I'm so excited to be named to the Olympic team, as I've been dreaming about this since I was a little girl," said Maud. "I can't wait to be able to compete with all my friends I have made throughout the years. And I think this Olympics is going to be a very special one."
Chloe Kim - 21
At just 17-years old, Team USA’s very own Chloe Kim made history back in 2018 after being the youngest snowboarder to win the gold on halfpipe in PyeongChang and the youngest female snowboarder to medal at all.
She will be returning for her second Olympics this year in Beijing.
Kim picked up the board at the age of 4 and fell in love with the sport ever since. She spurred her stardom at just 14-years old when she won a silver medal in the 2014 X-Games. Kim was awarded and deemed the youngest X-Games medalist in history. By her 16th birthday, she received three gold medals at the X-Games and became the only athlete to ever do so.
Kim later won the gold on halfpipe in the 2018 PyeongChang Games at 17 years old.
Since then, she stacked up another few medals at the X-Games, studied at Princeton for a year, appeared on FOX’s The Masked Singer, and was included in TIME’s 100 Most Influential People of 2018 and the magazine’s 25 Most Influential Teenagers of 2018.
And now, at 21, the second-generation Korean-American star will debut in her second Winter Olympic Games in Beijing this February.
“I already know what I’m doing. I have a very clear picture of what I need to do as an athlete and going into the Olympics,” Kim said. “I just want to go into it as a mystery. No one knows what I’m thinking; no one knows what I’m going to do. And it’s just fun and exciting when you don’t know what’s happening.”
Nathan Chen - 22
Nathan Chen is a three-time World Champion, having won in 2018, 2019 and 2021, a five-time U.S. National Champion and an Olympic bronze medalist for the figure skating team event in 2018. He set a short program record in the U.S. Figure Skating Championships on Jan. 8, 2022.
He is the first figure skater to land five types of quadruple jumps – including a toe loop, Salchow, loop, flip and Lutz – and eight quadruple jumps all within a single competition, which happened at the 2018 World Championships, where he finished first.
Chen got on the ice when he was only 3, believe it or not, wearing his sister’s white skates. From that moment forward, Chen was in love. He competed in endless events, his first being in 2003, qualified for U.S. Junior Nationals and won the men’s silver at the 2009 Junior Nationals. By age 10, Chen became the youngest new champion in the history of U.S. Figure Skating, winning the national novice title at the 2011 US Championships. Many years, competitions and medals later, Chen eventually won the 2017 CS US International Figure Skating Classic, immediately qualifying for the PyeongChang games after.
In 2018, Chen placed fifth for Team USA in the Winter Olympics in South Korea and, in 2021, he became the world record holder for the free skate and the combined score.
Currently on a leave of absence from Yale, Chen will be returning to Beijing in February to try and earn his place on the podium.
Dusty Henricksen - 19
At just 19 years old, Dusty Henricksen will be competing in his first ever Winter Olympic Games this February, and he is ready to take the slope by storm.
In 2019, Henricksen made his snowboarding debut at his first World Cup at Mammoth Mountain, which also happens to be his home track since he was 12. Just a year after, Henricksen received the gold in slopestyle at the 2020 Winter Youth Olympic Games in Lausanne, Switzerland. Later he came in second at the Burton U.S. Open in Vail and finished the 2020 season off in 18th place in the Freestyle World Cup and third in the Slopestyle World Cup.
The young dreamer was the first person to land a quadruple cork in a slopestyle competition at the 2020 Burton U.S. Open.
In 2021, Henricksen received two gold medals at the X-Games, one in slopestyle and one in knuckle huck. And in the same year, he became the first U.S. male snowboarder to win the Winter X-Games slopestyle snowboarding competition since Team USA’s Shaun White back in 2009.
Henricksen now has the opportunity to fulfill his podium dreams after qualifying for Team USA alongside Chloe Kim, Maddie Mastro, Jamie Anderson and Red Gerard.
Alysa Liu - 16
This American figure skater is the youngest-ever U.S. women’s national champion, after winning her first title at only 13 years old. At 14, Liu also became the youngest to win two senior national titles, and the first to win two consecutive titles since Ashley Wagner in 2012-13 and the first to win junior and senior titles back-to-back since Mirai Nagasu in 2008.
Beginning at the mere age of 5, Liu is only the third American, behind Tonya Harding and Nagasu, to complete a triple Axel. And it doesn’t stop there. Liu is the first junior American skater to complete a triple Axel and a quadruple Lutz in an international competition for women’s singles – also the first ever to complete both moves in the same program.
In 2018, Liu won the U.S. Junior National Championships and she is a 2020 World Junior bronze medalist and the 2019-20 Junior Grand Prix Final silver medalist. Later in 2021, Liu was awarded CS Nebelhorn Trophy champion and CS Lombardia Trophy champion. And yes, there is more! She is now a two-time U.S. national champion and will be continuing her stardom at Beijing in 2022. She, along with Mariah Bell and Karen Chen, will be leading Team USA in the race to the gold.
But the U.S. isn’t the only nation with extremely talented and novice competitors.
Here are some other young Olympians to look out for:
- Jordan Stolz - 17 - Team USA - Speed Skater
- Sabrina Cass - 19 - Brazil - Freestyle skier
- Kai Owens - 17 - Team USA - Freestyle skier
- Courtney Rummel - 18 - Team USA - Snowboarder
- Gus Schumacher - 20 - Team USA - Cross-country skier
- Kamila Valieva - 15 - Russia - Figure skater
- Matej Svancer - 17 - Austria - Freestyle skier
- Lilah Fear - 22 - Great Britain - Ice dancer
- Kagiyama Yuma - 18- Japan - Figure skater
- Riku Miura - 20 - Japan - Pair skater
- Elvira Oberg - 22 - Sweden - Biathlete
- Matvei Michkov - 17 -Russia - Ice hockey player
- Frida Karlsson - 22 - Sweden - Cross-country skier
- William Poromaa - 21 - Sweden - Cross-country skier
- Laura Barquero - 20 - Spain - Pair skater
- Sofia Nadyrshina - 18 - Russia - Snowboarder
- Gyda Westvold Hansen - 19 - Norway - Nordic combined
- Johannes Lamparter - 20 - Austria - Nordic combined
- Yubin Lee - 20 - South Korea - Short track speed skater
- Eileen Gu - 18 - China - Freestyle skier
- Alice Robinson - 21 - New Zealand - Alpine skier
- Nico Porteous - 20 - New Zealand - Freestyle skier
- Marita Kramer - 20 - Austria - Ski jumper
- Yuto Totsuka - 20 - Japan - Snowboarder
And of course, these are just a few of the hidden gems we will see fighting for their spots on the podium this year.