The actual numbers still reflect a long-standing racial disparity in winter sports. The New York Times identified 10 Black Team USA members, while Angry Asian Man listed 13 Asian-American ones; that’s 23 people of a total 244 squad members, according to the Team USA roster.* That 23 includes a number of returning veterans, history-making debuts and others in a position to earn gold medals during the next two weeks of competition.
Here are seven athletes of color to watch during the 2018 Winter Olympics, with details from their TeamUSA.org profiles:
Jordan Greenway, Ice Hockey
As The Undefeated reported last month, Greenway is the first Black ice hockey player to compete for Team USA. The Minnesota Wild of the National Hockey League (NHL) recognized the Boston University student athlete three years ago with a second-round draft pick in the 2015 NHL Draft, but Greenway told the St. Paul Pioneer Press last year that he has no plans to enter the NHL.
Mirai Nagasu, Figure Skating
Nagasu debuted on Team USA during the 2010 Winter Olympics in Vancouver. This will be her second Winter Olympic run, after failing to qualify for the 2014 games in Sochi. NBC Asian America noted that the Japanese-American college student is only the second U.S. figure skater, after Tonya Harding, to land a triple Axel in competition.
Maame Biney, Short Track Speedskating
The New York Daily News reports that Biney is one the first two Black female speed skaters, the other being Erin Jackson, to represent the U.S. on the Olympic stage. The 18-year-old skater was born in Ghana and began skating as a child in Reston, Virginia. She earned a bronze medal for the 500-meter dash at the 2017 World Junior Short Track Speed Skating Championships.
Nathan Chen, Figure Skating
NBC Sports called the 18-year-old Chen a “quad king” for his ability to land multiple quadruple jumps, or jumps with four in-air turns, during competitions. NBC Asian America added that if the Chinese-American teenager wins a gold medal, he would be the youngest male figure skater to do so in Olympic history.
Lauren Gibbs, Bobsled
Team USA’s bobsledding squad includes five Black athletes, including Gibbs. This will be Gibbs’ first Olympics, and the Los Angeles Times reports that she left a lucrative sales career at an online retail company to train as a bobsled brakeman, the crew member who operates the sled’s intricate brakes.
Chloe Kim, Snowboarding
Kim is one of two female snowboarders of Asian descent, alongside Hailey Langland, to ride for Team USA this year. NBC News reported in 2016 that the Korean-American teenager is the first female competitor to earn back-to-back gold medals at the X Games.
Shani Davis, Long Track Speedskating
Davis earned a gold medal for Team USA at the 2006 Winter Olympics in Turin, Italy. The Washington Post reported that he is the first African-American gold medalist in speedskating, and he went on to win another gold at the 2010 games. Davis tweeted yesterday (February 8) that he skipped out on the 2018 Winter Olympics opening ceremony after not being selected as the team’s ceremonial flag bearer. He used the hashtag #BlackHistoryMonth2018 in his tweet, which you can read below.
I am an American and when I won the 1000m in 2010 I became the first American to 2-peat in that event. @TeamUSA dishonorably tossed a coin to decide its 2018 flag bearer. No problem. I can wait until 2022. #BlackHistoryMonth2018 #PyeongChang2018 pic.twitter.com/dsmTtNkhJs— Shani Davis (@ShaniDavis) February 8, 2018
Catch all the athletes when the opening ceremony replays for U.S. audiences tonight (February 9) at 8 p.m. EST, on NBC.
*This post has been updated since publicaiton to reflect the correct number of Asian-American and total athletes on Team USA.