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Sophia Mastey

As the Olympic athletes gathered in Beijing after a long-awaited four years for the Winter Olympics team, the USA wanted to win as many gold medals as possible. Team USA was accompanied by 222 athletes. Some of those top athletes include three-time gold medalist Shaun White, competing in his final Olympics; Lindsey Jacobellis, who has won the first gold medal in 2022; and  gold medalists Chloe Kim and Nathan Chen. Other athletes included alpine skier Mikaela Shiffrin and freestyle skier Colby Stevenson.  

Team USA snatched their first win: “Lindsey Jacobellis snapped Olympic curse to clinch Team USA's first gold of Beijing 2022,” according to Olympics. Thirty six-year-old Lindsey Jacobellis led from start to finish of women's snowboarding. Jacobellis completed four difficult Olympic games.  In 2006, Jacobellis took silver after falling in her last routine. The next couple of games Lindsey went through a couple of unlucky runs, coming close to the gold. Lindsey is one of the most successful snowboarders in America. She achieved 31 wins and 57 podiums in 104 World Cup starts and finally snatched the gold sixteen years later, redeeming herself. Lindsey Jacobellis is among four Americans to advance to snowboard cross quarters. As of February 9 in Beijing, Lindsey had won her final run. She took the lead and was able to maintain it throughout, winning her and Team USA’s first gold medal in the 2022 winter games. 

Like Lindsey, Shaun White concluded his participation in the Olympic games. Rachel Axon from USA TODAY said, “It’s a fitting place to end for a rider whose three Olympic golds made him famous and elevated his sport.” On February 9, after qualifying for finals, Shaun wrote on his Instagram, “Wow! So happy to make it through into finals!! This being the last Olympic qualifying event of my career, I definitely felt the pressure. So pumped I pulled that last runoff. See you in finals.”  Even though White failed his first run in qualifiers on a self-invented trick, he nailed his second run at Genting Snow Park on Wednesday, February 9. He finished fourth and secured a spot in the finals. As years pass Shaun continues competing, but as he gets older his competitors only get younger. For Shaun, it will be hard for him to compete with these younger and very talented half-pipe snowboarders. On Thursday, February 10, Shaun competed in his last winter Olympics finals. On Friday, February 11, Shaun returned to his last finals in the Olympics. Shaun started with a strong first run, but an even stronger second run. He hoped to score even higher on his last run. Ending his last run with tears and cheers, Shaun was unable to complete his run. Shaun failed his third air with a score, keeping him in fourth. Even though he was not able to finish his games experience on the podium, people all over the world lined up to congratulate the G.O.A.T. of halfpipe snowboarding. After competing he told the world, "Snowboarding, thank you. It's been the love of my life…It's been a journey. I can't wait to see where this sport goes. I'm truly thankful to be here and still competing and even getting fourth, I'm proud of it. The future for me is so exciting. There's so much I want to do in my life. So much to do, so much to live for, this is just the beginning." Shaun spent his whole life dedicated to snowboarding and he made an impact on men and women all over the world. 

Chloe Kim is also one of the top half-pipe snowboarders for team USA. After winning in the 2018 Olympics, Kim took time off to attend Princeton and returned in 2019. Along with Shaun White, Kim advanced to the finals of men's and women's halfpipe competitions. Twenty one-year-old Chloe Kim is the youngest Olympic gold medalist in halfpipe history. Kim won three gold medals before the age of 16 in the X Games competition. Chloe returned to the Olympics in 2022 ready to win some more. “I was really nervous in my first run because we’re at the Olympics, but I’m so happy I put one down,” Kim told NBC after qualifying. Kim was not only aiming for gold, but for new tricks too. In Chloe Kim’s first run Thursday morning, she placed first with a huge score of 94.00. Chloe Kim won the gold medal in the women's snowboarding halfpipe competition and is the only woman in history to win two gold medals in the halfpipe. After Kim's big win Thursday morning she shared, “Today was insane! Thank you thank you thank you all for the love. It still hasn't hit me yet but I'm so proud to bring home another gold!!” on Instagram. Chloe is grateful and excited, winning gold twice in a row. 

Soon after Chloe Kim won her gold medal, figure skater Nathan Chen received one as well. Nathan has scored more points from the judges than any man in the history of figure skating. Nathan Chen performed a graceful, technical, and fun routine Thursday afternoon, winning him a gold medal in men's figure skating. Nathan Chen has been the most consistent and dominant male figure skater in the world. After four years, Nathan finally filled in his missing piece. Chen aced his final show at the Beijing winter games and went straight to gold.

Mikaela Shiffrin could have left her third Winter Olympics in February with the most Olympic gold medals ever won by an American alpine skier. She currently has two gold medals, tying Americans Ted Ligety and Andrea Mead Lawrence, and has set her sights on more. Mikaela said, "You go to the Olympics and hope for medals, that's the dream.” She suffered a back injury in November and then tested positive for COVID-19 six weeks before the start of the games. Making it to the Olympics weeks later, she fell early in competition in the giant slalom. After her ski came off balance, she sat in the snow and took a long look at the course. Disappointed at her loss, she knew it would be hard to get over, but knew she had other races left. This was her first ever failure since January 2018. “It’s a huge disappointment. Not even counting the medals.” This was a huge loss for her since she only needed one more medal to tie Julia Manasco. People were excited to see what she would bring for team USA. This loss was not only heartbreaking for her, but for all of the USA. Shriffrin now faces a lot of pressure after her slip up. 

Freeskier Colby Stevenson took a surprise silver medal in the big air men’s freeskiing final. "I’m totally on a cloud," he said. "It hasn’t quite set in yet. It’s a miracle I ended up on the podium today honestly," Stevenson said, quoted by USA Today. Stevenson landed an impressive switch left double cork 1800 on his last jump, bringing him onto the podium. Six years ago Stevenson was in a car crash, and he nearly died. This accident left him with a fractured skull and multiple other life-threatening injuries. Stevenson was told there would be no guarantee he would be able to ski.  He came a long way and should feel very accomplished for his win. 

As the Olympics closed in Beijing on February 20, 2022, many athletes who were part of the USA team brought home the gold: Chloe Kim, Lindsey Jacobellis, and Nathan Chen. As for Shaun, Colby, and Mikaela, they are still very proud to be where they are today. Every athlete in the games performed amazingly, and these athletes especially gave it their all. 

Works cited  

  1. “Olympics 2022 Recap: Team USA Finally Wins Gold, Shaun White Reaches Halfpipe Final, Mikaela Shiffrin out of Slalom.” USA TODAY, Accessed 9 Feb. 2022.

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