PHOENIX — The countdown to the Beijing Olympics is on. You’ll see all the action only on 12 News this February. There are several big, familiar names vying for a spot on Team USA and a few athletes with Arizona ties are hoping to get a shot at going for gold.
Here are a few athletes to make sure you keep an eye on when you watch the 2022 Winter Olympics:
The athletes range from snowboarding to bobsled and ice skating. We start with a pairs skater with deep ties to State 48. Alexa Knierim is married to Olympian Chris Knierim from Tucson.
The pair skated together for years, winning bronze in 2018 at the Pyeongchang Olympics. But a month after winning their third national title in 2020, Chris announced his retirement due to injuries and a battle with depression.
Now Chris is one of Alexa’s coaches and he’s cheering on his wife and her new skating partner, Brandon Frazier.
Staying on the ice, figure skating champion Bradie Tennell is another Olympic medalist who won a bronze in 2018. She’s been battling a foot injury, but she’s optimistic about bouncing back for Beijing.
Next up, skater Vincent Zhou. He competed in the 2018 Olympics, but has yet to get his first medal. He could get that chance in Beijing, which holds a special spot for the skater.
In October, Zhou scored his first major senior win at Skate America, knocking off Nathan Chen’s epic win streak that lasted more than three seasons.
Speaking of Chen, he’s a Team USA favorite. However, at the 2018 Olympics, he fell a lot during the individual competition, landing him in fifth place. He did win bronze in the team event in South Korea and he’s ready for his return to the Olympic stage.
In the world of bobsled, Kaillie Humphries is ready for her fourth Olympics. If she qualifies, it will be her first as a member of Team USA. The former team Canada competitor has two golds and a bronze.
She works hard to be the best, training six days a week for hours. But what pushes her is equality within the sport, like the women’s monobob. Although she lives in southern California, she’s spent several summers here in the Valley training at Exos and Altis. She still loves visiting State 48.
Elena Meyers Taylor
Elana Meyers Taylor has also trained here in the Valley at Altis. The two-time silver and bronze medalist is also aiming to compete in her fourth Olympics. But this will be her first as a mom.
One of the biggest things she's learned is to take things as they come and, as any parent knows, to have a lot of patience because things are different day-to-day.
And finally, Shaun White. The snowboarder, known as the “flying tomato,” aims to compete in his fifth Olympics. He’s already got three golds in the halfpipe. So, will this be his last Olympics?
The next couple of months will surely be exciting as the athletes compete in the qualifying rounds, hoping to snag a spot on the Olympic team headed to Beijing.
Of course, we’ll be tracking all of the action for you.
PHOTOS: Athletes to watch during 2022 Beijing Olympics
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