The 2022 Winter Olympics are near: Here's 23 Team USA athletes you need to know before you watch

·11 min read

There will be no shortage of American star power at the 2022 Winter Olympics in Beijing.

After finishing fourth in the medal table at the 2018 Pyeongchang Winter Games with 23 medals, including nine golds, Team USA will look to improve on that mark with a diverse and accomplished group of athletes. The U.S. delegation in Beijing will feature several reigning Olympic medalists, recent world champions and up-and-coming starlets.

Here are 23 key names to know ahead of the 2022 Games, including some who have already become winter sports stars and others who are poised to join them in the coming weeks. The opening ceremony will be held Feb. 4.

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Jamie Anderson during Snowboard Big Air qualifying in the 2021 FIS Aspen Snowboard & Freeski World Championships.
Jamie Anderson during Snowboard Big Air qualifying in the 2021 FIS Aspen Snowboard & Freeski World Championships.

Jamie Anderson, women's snowboarding

Anderson isn't short on accolades. She's the most decorated slopestyle snowboarder in X Games history, the first woman to land a 1080 off a jump and the only person to win an Olympic gold medal in the brief history of women's slopestyle. She's earned each of the past two.

Now, the 31-year-old will be returning to the Winter Games for a third time, with her eyes on a three-peat and a fourth overall medal. (Anderson also won silver in big air at the 2018 Pyeongchang Games.)

Kevin Bickner, men's ski jumping

It's been almost a century since the U.S. won its only Olympic medal in ski jumping, and that drought is likely to continue in Beijing.

That said, if there's one American to watch in the event, it's probably Kevin Bickner. The 25-year-old holds the national distance record of 802 feet, set in 2017. And he is coming off an 18th-place finish at the 2018 Games – which, while still a ways off the podium, marked the best finish for a U.S. man in the event since the 2002 Olympics in Salt Lake City.

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Summer Britcher, women's luge

At 27, Britcher is already gearing up for what will be her third Olympic appearance. Though she didn't place higher than 15th individually in her first two trips, the Pennsylvania native has shown steady improvement over her career and seen better results of late, including a third-place finish in the 2018-19 World Cup standings.

Britcher has also been an important member of the relay team in recent years, helping the U.S. to a fourth-place finish in Pyeongchang and a bronze medal at the 2020 world championships.

Brittany Bowe, women's speedskating

A former inline skater and college basketball player, Bowe is now one of several U.S. speedskaters who figure to be medal threats in Beijing.

The 33-year-old won a bronze in Pyeongchang in team pursuit – Team USA's only long track speedskating medal at those Games – and she has been arguably the nation's most dominant skater in the years since. Bowe broke the world record at 1000 meters in 2019 and has won gold at that distance at two of the past three world championships. She also finished second at another distance, 1500 meters, at the most recent world championships last year.

Nathan Chen performs during the Skating Spectacular event at the 2021 U.S. Figure Skating Championships at Orleans Arena on Jan. 17, 2021.
Nathan Chen performs during the Skating Spectacular event at the 2021 U.S. Figure Skating Championships at Orleans Arena on Jan. 17, 2021.

Nathan Chen, men's figure skating

After a disappointing fifth-place finish at the 2018 Olympics, Chen has been nothing short of brilliant on the international level. He has won three consecutive world championships – all by whopping margins – and became the first U.S. man to three-peat since Scott Hamilton in the early 1980s. (Hamilton won four in a row.)

In addition to skating, Chen is also a student at Yale, where he is majoring in statistics and data science. He put his studies on pause to train for the Beijing Games but is likely to return to campus later this year with at least one individual Olympic medal – perhaps gold.

Jessie Diggins, women's cross-country skiing

Diggins won a shocking gold medal at the 2018 Games in the team sprint event, alongside partner Kikkan Randall. It was the second Olympic medal ever won by U.S. cross-country skiers, following Bill Koch's silver in the 30K at the 1976 Innsbruck Games.

In the years since, Diggins, 30, became the first American to win the Tour de Ski – a multi-stage event that is modeled off of cycling's Tour de France. In the niche world of cross-country skiing, she quickly has become America's brightest star.

Susan Dunklee, women's biathlon

Dunklee is in the midst of her final year as a biathlete, the end of a career that has spanned more than a decade and seen her achieve new milestones for Americans in the sport. Her silver medal at the 2017 world championships, for example, was the first-ever won by an American in biathlon – the only longstanding sport at the Winter Olympics in which the United States has never won a medal.

Outside of biathlon, Dunklee has also been an advocate for sustainability and gender equity.

Alex Ferreira, men's freestyle skiing

In the brief Olympic history of ski halfpipe, only one man has ever won a gold medal: American David Wise, who's done it twice. But this time around, it could be Ferreira's turn to shine.

The 27-year-old Aspen, Colorado, native finished second to Wise in the halfpipe at the Pyeongchang Games and has been on a tear in the lead-up to the Beijing Games, including wins at both Dew Tour and the U.S. Grand Prix Finals earlier this winter. There figures to be plenty of competition in this event in Beijing, especially among the Americans, but Ferreira will certainly be in the mix.

Taylor Fletcher, men's Nordic combined

Fletcher is one of the few four-time Olympians on Team USA, which is an achievement in and of itself. He won a bronze medal at the 2013 world championships and has long been one of the nation's stalwarts in Nordic combined, which consists of ski jumping and cross-country skiing. The event has long been dominated by Europeans – including, unsurprisingly, Norway – so Fletcher faces long odds of reaching the podium.

Alex Hall, men's freestyle skiing

Hall, 23, was born in Alaska, grew up in Switzerland, and won a silver medal in Norway at the 2016 Youth Olympic Games.

The reigning world bronze medalist in freeski slopestyle, he clinched his spot on Team USA in thrilling fashion at a Grand Prix event in January, landing a crazy run in his last attempt to win by less than a point. This will be his second consecutive Olympic appearance. He placed 16th in slopestyle in Pyeongchang.

Dusty Henricksen, men's snowboarding

From Shaun White to Red Gerard, it seems like there's always an up-and-coming American snowboarder who blossoms into a star at the Olympics. And at the Beijing Games, it could very well be Henricksen.

Just 18, Henricksen will be making his Olympic debut after claiming a pair of big victories in recent years. He won gold in slopestyle at the Youth Olympic Games in 2020, then followed up with a first-place finish at the Winter X Games in 2021, becoming the first American to win the event at the X Games since White in 2009.

Madison Hubbell and Zachary Donohue, ice dance

The U.S. is the only country to win an Olympic medal in ice dance at each of the past four Games. Hubbell and Donohue will be among those aiming to make it five.

Both are now north of 30 and have said this will be their final Olympic run, after more than a decade together. Hubbell and Donohue placed fourth at the 2018 Olympics, just a few points off the podium. But they've been in sharp form since, finishing third and second at the most recent world championships.

Kaillie Humphries, women's bobsled

One of the most accomplished pilots in her sport, Humphries has won three medals in three Olympic appearances for Canada dating back to 2010. The Beijing Games will be her first with Team USA.

Humphries, 36, switched nationalities after filing a complaint against Canadian team officials in 2018, alleging verbal and emotional abuse. She became a U.S. citizen in December. With the Olympic debut of women's monobob, Humphries is favored to win at least one medal in Beijing, though there is a chance she could return home with two.

Chloe Kim, women's snowboarding

Kim was one of the breakout stars of the 2018 Olympics, where she won a gold medal at the age of 17. And she's heavily favored to become the first repeat winner in the women's halfpipe since its debut in 1998.

After taking a year off from competition in 2019-20 to focus on her schoolwork at Princeton – and to "be a normal kid for once" – Kim has been as dominant as ever in her return to the halfpipe. The 21-year-old has racked up recent wins at the 2021 world championships and Dew Tour, among other marquee events.

Hilary Knight, women's hockey

More than 15 years after making her Team USA debut, Knight is back for a fourth Olympic appearance and will be one of the veteran anchors for a team that will look to repeat atop the Olympic podium this winter.

At 32, she is one of the most recognizable athletes in her sport – and still one of the most accomplished and dangerous attacking players on the ice. In 190 career games for Team USA, Knight has amassed 219 points, including 126 goals. She's also been part of eight world championship teams, on top of her Olympic successes.

Alysa Liu performs during the women's free skate at the U.S. Figure Skating Championships, Jan. 15, 2021, in Las Vegas.
Alysa Liu performs during the women's free skate at the U.S. Figure Skating Championships, Jan. 15, 2021, in Las Vegas.

Alysa Liu, women's figure skating

Liu, 16, had to withdraw from nationals this year after testing positive for COVID-19, but she successfully petitioned her way onto the Olympic team after a strong first season on the senior international circuit.

A two-time U.S. champion and one of the few American women who can land a triple axel in competition, Liu probably has the best chance of any U.S. women of sneaking onto the podium, which the Russians are expected to sweep.

Jake Sanderson, men's hockey

The NHL's decision to pull out of the Beijing Olympics due to COVID-19 opened the door for younger players like Sanderson to step up.

The son of ex-NHL forward Geoff Sanderson, the 19-year-old currently plays collegiately at the University of North Dakota and was drafted fifth overall in 2020 by the Ottawa Senators. He has been a standout defenseman in the U.S. talent pipeline and captained the U.S. junior national team at its most recent world championships.

Kristen Santos, women's short track speedskating

Originally a figure skater, Santos switched to speedskating at 9 and won a pair of junior national championships. She barely missed out on the 2018 Olympic team, finishing fourth at those trials, where only the top three would be competing at the Games.

This time around, Santos left little doubt, sweeping the 1500-meter races at this season's trials to officially punch her ticket to Beijing, where she might represent Team USA's best shot at a medal in short track.

Mikaela Shiffrin speeds down the course during the first run of an alpine ski women's World Cup slalom, in Schladming, Austria, Jan. 11, 2022.
Mikaela Shiffrin speeds down the course during the first run of an alpine ski women's World Cup slalom, in Schladming, Austria, Jan. 11, 2022.

Mikaela Shiffrin, women's Alpine skiing

Shiffrin, 26, has quickly established herself as one of the most dominant American skiers ever – and she is without question one of the brightest stars on Team USA.

With more than 70 World Cup wins and 11 world championship medals to her name, Shiffrin will enter her third Olympics with strong odds of winning medals in multiple events – just as she did in Pyeongchang, where she took gold in giant slalom and silver in Alpine combined. Shiffrin, who tested positive for COVID-19 just six weeks before the Games, has a stated goal of competing in all five individual events in Beijing.

John Shuster, men's curling

Four years after leading Team USA to an improbable gold in Pyeongchang, Shuster is back for his fifth Olympic appearance, once again as captain of the U.S. men's team.

Few U.S. winter athletes can match Shuster's longevity. The 39-year-old Minnesota native won his first national title in 2003, and competed at his first Olympics in 2006. He'll be joined in Beijing by two of the three teammates who competed alongside him in 2018, Matt Hamilton and John Landsteiner. Chris Plys replaces Tyler George to round out the team.

Jordan Stolz, men's speedskating

The 17-year-old Stolz has been touted as the future of U.S. men's speedskating, and he showed why at the Olympic trials in January. He won both the 500-meter and 1000-meter races at trials, breaking the 1000-meter track record set by two-time Olympic gold medalist Shani Davis in the process.

A Wisconsin native, Stolz will be the third-youngest American male speedskater to compete at the Games. But U.S. teammate Joey Mantia described him as the guy who's "going to carry that torch into the next several quads."

Katie Uhlaender, women's skeleton

Nearly two decades after her first competition, Uhlaender is still going. The Beijing Olympics will be her fifth, a rare achievement for U.S. winter sports athletes. The 37-year-old has come close to the Olympic podium, finishing fourth in Sochi in 2014 by four hundredths of a second, but she has yet to win a medal.

Contact Tom Schad at tschad@usatoday.com or on Twitter @Tom_Schad.

This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: 2022 Winter Olympics stars to know: From Hilary Knight to Nathan Chen