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Meet the U.S. Figure Skating Olympic Team

Meet the U.S. Figure Skating Olympic Team
Posted at 10:12 AM, Jan 11, 2022
and last updated 2022-01-12 12:53:49-05

Jean-Luc Baker

Age: 28

Previous Olympics: N/A

Events: Ice dance

With partner Kaitlin Hawayek, Jean-Luc Baker earned the final ice dance berth by four-peating for third place at the 2022 U.S. Figure Skating Championships. Baker was practically born into figure skating: His father, Stephen, competed in the 1976 World Junior Championships, while his mother, Sharon Jones Baker, represented the United Kingdom in ice dancing at the 1988 Calgary Olympics. (She placed 13th.)  Baker and Hawayek have skated together for a decade. At the most recent World Championships, they placed ninth overall.  

SEE MORE: U.S. Championships: Hawayek/Baker give it all, earn bronze

Evan Bates 

Age: 33

Previous Olympics: 2010, 2014, 2018

Events: Ice dance

An appearance at the 2022 Winter Olympics will make Evan Bates the only U.S. figure skater of any discipline to compete in four Games. Though he originally competed alongside partner Emily Samuelson early in his career, Bates suffered a severed Achilles tendon during training that forced him off the ice for a year. Bates then teamed up with Madison Chock for the 2011-2012 season. Since then, the duo has racked up two World Championships medals (silver 2015, bronze 2016) and three national titles (2015, 2020, 2022). Winter 2022 will mark their third Games together.   

SEE MORE: Meet the Athletes: Madison Chock and Evan Bates

Mariah Bell

Age: 25

Previous Olympics: N/A

Events: Women’s singles

The Oklahoma-born Mariah Bell has competed in nine nationals, but peaked at the right time: She won gold at the 2022 Championships, solidifying her grasp on one of three Olympic berths. The upcoming Winter Games will mark her first Olympic appearance, and – as Bell told NBC analyst Andrea Joyce – “it means a lot, because it’s something that I’ve been working for for a really long time. It’s really amazing, and I’m just really grateful.” Bell has not appeared at a World Championship since 2019, when she placed ninth overall.  

SEE MORE: U.S. Championships: Mariah Bell earns her first nats title

Jason Brown

Age: 27

Previous Olympics: 2014

Events: Men’s singles

Jason Brown created a bit of a stir in the figure skating community when he was the third athlete named to the U.S. men’s Olympic team for the upcoming Games: The fourth place-finisher at the 2022 Championships was chosen over silver medalist, 17-year-old Ilia Madinin, even though the latter posted an overall score more than 12 points higher. Still, Brown maintains an impressive resume, including medals at both his 2021-22 Grand Prix assignments. He placed ninth in singles at the Sochi 2014 Games and was the first alternate for PyeongChang 2018.  

Jason Brown competes
Jan 17, 2021; Las Vegas, Nevada, USA; Jason Brown performs during the mens free skate program at the 2021 U.S. Figure Skating Championships at Orleans Arena. Mandatory Credit: Orlando Ramirez-USA TODAY Sports
Orlando Ramirez-USA TODAY Sports

 

Ashley Cain-Gribble

Age: 26

Previous Olympics: N/A

Events: Pairs

With only two berths available and favorites Alexa Knierim and Brandon Frazier out of nationals due to COVID, the fight to compete in pairs essentially boiled down to whichever duo won the 2022 Championships. Ashley Cain-Gribble and partner Timothy LeDuc finished first in both the short program and free skate, grabbing their second national title (following a 2019 win) – and a spot on the U.S. Olympic team. Following the competition, a tearful Cain-Gribble said “we have visualized this moment so many times … The whole week, the way it went, honestly it’s surreal. It feels like, right now, a huge weight has been lifted, and we’re so grateful.” Cain-Gribble/LeDuc skated at two World Championships, placing ninth both times.    

Cain-Gribble was born into a figure skating family. She is the daughter of Australian Peter Cain, who competed at the 1980 Lake Placid Games; her aunt and cousin also competed on the world circuit. An accomplished singles skater as a junior, Cain-Gribble got married in 2019. 

 

Karen Chen

Age: 22 

Previous Olympics: 2018

Events: Women’s singles

Karen Chen had seriously considered quitting figure skating following her disappointing 11th place finish at PyeongChang 2018. Though she began classes at Cornell University years ago, she put a pin on her education to focus on one last Olympic cycle. Her decision proved fruitful: Chen finished fourth at the 2021 World Championships – earning the U.S. its third 2022 Olympic singles berth – then wowed the judges at the 2022 Nationals with a 213.85-point total. That score was good enough for second place (and a sixth U.S. Championships medal), as well as a singles spot on the 2022 U.S. Olympic figure skating team.   

SEE MORE: U.S. Championships: Karen Chen earns silver in free tossup

Nathan Chen

Age: 22

Previous Olympics: 2018

Events: Men’s singles

The biggest name in U.S. figure skating – and one of the biggest names of the last two Olympic cycles – Nathan Chen has won almost every figure skating title on the planet, but still has one last box to check: earning a singles gold at the Games. At PyeongChang 2018, Chen took a hard spill into 17th place during the short program; even a stunning, first-place free skate wasn’t enough to propel him onto the podium. 

After PyeongChang, Chen went on a three-and-a-half-year winning streak. He fell during the short program at 2021 Skate America, but still earned silver; during his second 2021-22 Grand Prix assignment, Skate Canada, Chen rebounded with another golden performance. Though he fell during his free skate at the 2022 Nationals, his performance was strong enough to earn him his sixth consecutive U.S. Championships title. 

Only nerves and Japan’s famous Yuzuru Hanyu can prevent Chen from finally claiming the crown jewel of his career at the 2022 Winter Olympics. 

SEE MORE: U.S. Championships: Chen breaks short record with 115.39 pts

Zachary Donohue

Age: 31 

Previous Olympics: 2018

Events: Ice dance

Zachary Donohue, one half of one of the two best ice dancing teams in the United States, didn’t start skating until he was 10 years old. It took another decade before he teamed up with current partner, Madison Hubbell. Since the 2011-2012 season, he and Hubbell have won the 2018 Grand Prix Final, three World Championship medals, and the U.S. Championships title three times. The duo competed at PyeongChang 2018, but finished fourth – just 0.02 points behind compatriots Alex and Maia Shibutani. Hubbell and Donohue recently announced that the 2021-22 season would be their last. Having punched their ticket to the Olympics, can they finally clinch an ice dancing medal that barely escaped them four years ago? 

SEE MORE: U.S. Championships: Hubbell/Donohue's last nationals dance

Brandon Frazier

Age: 29

Previous Olympics: N/A

Events: Pairs

At ten years old, Brandon Frazier teamed up with former partner Haven Denney – initially, as roller skaters. Frazier and Denney then competed in pairs from 2005 through 2008 and 2011 to 2020, winning four Grand Prix medals. When Denney quit figure skating in 2020, Frazier immediately worked with Alexa Knierim. They won gold at the 2020 Skate America Grand Prix and bronze at the 2021 Internationaux de France. At the 2021 U.S. Championships, Knierim/Frazier landed the competition’s highest combined total ever with 228.10 points.   

Frazier was one of the highest-profile athletes to withdraw from the 2022 Nationals due to COVID. He announced serious symptoms in an Instagram post the night before competition started, saying: “Although my symptoms are pretty bad, nothing sucks more than not being able to compete.” Based on Knierim/Frazier’s results the last year, the team still qualified for the 2022 Winter Olympics – with the hopes that Frazier will fully recover soon.

 

Kaitlin Hawayek

Age: 25

Previous Olympics: N/A 

Events: Ice dance

Buffalo-born Kaitlin Hawayek got involved with ice skating at three years old, starting in singles. She switched to ice dancing in 2010, winning junior-level competitions. Hawayek paired with Jean-Luc Baker in June 2012. During the second half of their decade-long partnership, the duo has finished within the top ten at three World Championships. Starting in 2019, Hawayek/Baker earned four straight bronze medals at the U.S. Nationals. 
 

Madison Hubbell

Age: 30

Previous Olympics: 2018

Events: Ice dance

Ice dance quickly became a family affair for Madison Hubbell, who took to the rink at age 5: In 2001, she teamed up with brother Keiffer and spent a decade speeding across the globe, earning medals and recognition at different events. In 2011, Keiffer drifted from the sport and Madison found a new partner in Zachary Donohue. 

Now, after more than a decade as partners, Hubbell/Donohue have announced that the 2021-22 season would be their last. Their brilliant career has included two silvers and a bronze at the World Championships; three national titles; and an appearance at the PyeongChang 2018 Games, where they placed fourth – just 4.90 points from a bronze medal. 

Following a second-place finish at the 2022 U.S. Nationals – they’ve won either gold or silver since 2018 – Hubbell/Donohue now head to the 2022 Winter Games for their last dance, and perhaps their best shot at an Olympic medal.

Alexa Knierim

Age: 30

Previous Olympics: 2018

Events: Pairs

American pair skater Alexa Knierim made her Olympic debut in 2018 alongside husband and then-skating partner Chris Knierim. The duo won a bronze medal as part of the team event. 

While the pair was set to compete in the 2020 World Championships, Chris stepped away from the sport due to injury. Alexa then teamed up with Brandon Frazier around the start of the COVID-19 pandemic. 

The new pair won the 2021 U.S. Nationals and finished seventh at their World Championships debut in 2021. Despite their absence at the most recent nationals, they won an Olympic berth based on their results from the past year and will compete at the 2022 Winter Games.

SEE MORE: Meet the Athletes: Alexa Knierim

Timothy LeDuc

Age: 31

Previous Olympics: N/A

Events: Pairs

With a win at the 2022 U.S. Nationals, Timothy LeDuc became the first openly gay skater to earn the pairs title. LeDuc uses “they/them” pronouns; they will be the first non-binary athlete to compete at any Winter Olympics. 

LeDuc became interested in skating after watching the 2002 Olympics. They began skating singles at 12 years old, then tried several partners before teaming with Ashley Cain (now Cain-Gribble) in 2016. Coached by Cain’s father, a former world renowned pair skater, Cain-Gribble/LeDuc have won bronze at two Grand Prix events and placed in the top ten at the World Championships twice.

SEE MORE: Podcast: Timothy LeDuc, alongside partner Ashley Cain-Gribble, delivers unique take on pairs skating

Alysa Liu

Age: 16

Previous Olympics: N/A

Events: Women’s singles

The youngest of the United States’ three women’s singles skaters at the upcoming Games, Alysa Liu approached the 2022 U.S. Nationals as the favorite to win gold. However, she tested positive for COVID after a surprisingly mediocre short program. 

Liu possesses limited international experience on the senior level, but previously won the 2019 and 2020 U.S. Championships against older and more experienced competitors. She placed fourth and fifth at her two 2021 Grand Prix assignments, her at the senior level. Liu’s biggest strength is her skill set: She is the only American female skater to have successfully completed a quadruple jump in competition, and one of just three to have completed a triple Axel in international competition. However, she has not incorporated a quad into her program since 2020.

Vincent Zhou

Age: 21

Previous Olympics: 2018

Events: Men’s singles

The best American men's singles skater not named Nathan Chen, California's Vincent Zhou is the first athlete to successfully land a quadruple Lutz at the Olympics. He finished sixth at his debut Olympics in PyeongChang. 

On the national circuit, Zhou has won two silvers and a bronze at the U.S. Championships during this Olympic cycle. The competition’s most recent edition saw Zhou finish third overall despite a short program that was only three points behind Chen's. Zhou won his first 2021 Grand Prix assignment, Skate America, and earned silver at his second, the NHK Trophy.

SEE MORE: Vincent Zhou: 2021 Skate America win 'super hard to believe'