Predicted to be one of the most racially diverse US teams to compete in the history of the Winter Olympic games, the 2010 team has definitely seen a greater presence of API athletes going for the gold. This year the US has many API hopefuls to represent the nation in the highest caliber of competition in the modern world.
J.R. Celski – Short Track
A native of Federal Way, Washington, Celski started skating at the age of 3 alongside fellow Federal Way superstar Apolo Ohno. The Filipino and Polish American first decided to take up the short track event when he watched Ohno win gold in 2002. After winning four gold medals and finishing second in the 2009 World Championships, he is one of the strongest competitors for the short track event for the US Team.
Simon Cho – Short Track
Born in South Korea, Cho began skating at the age of 3 and moved to Chicago two years later to continue his craft at several local clubs. Cho earned his place on the US Olympic team by winning a 500m race at the Olympic trials after a crash between fellow teammates Apolo Ohno and J.R. Celski allowed Cho to finish first. At the age of 18, Cho will be making his Olympic debut at the 2010 games as the youngest member of the U.S. Team.
Julie Chu – Hockey
At age 8, Chu first began as a figure skater in her hometown of Bridgeport, Connecticut, but decided to compete in hockey after watching her older brother Richard “skate more gracefully” than her during his hockey lessons. Since then, the Chinese American has played throughout her collegial years at Harvard University and shattered various NCAA records for career points (284). This will be her third appearance at an Olympic game and hopes to add another medal to her silver from 2002 and bronze from 2006.
Mirai Nagasu – Figure Skating
In Japanese, her name Mirai means “future”, a fitting translation for the hopes of competitive figure skating for this year’s US Olympic Team. Born in Montebello, Calif. and of Japanese descent, Nagasu began skating at the age of 5 due to the prohibition for her to play golf. Among the many accolades of her career, she has won the 2008 U.S Championship, is a 2-time World Junior Medalist, and is the second youngest U.S. Champion in the sport of figure skating.
Caroline Zhang – Figure Skating
When Zhang was only 12 years old, she finished eighth in the junior division at the 2006 U.S. Nationals, an accomplishment that drew the attention of many experts and predicated her dominating performance in the junior ranks for the next two seasons. A Boston native with a Chinese background, Zhang has been compared to medalists Sasha Cohen and Michelle Kwan for her versatile flexibility and musicality. Zhang hopes to win her first Olympic medal in this year’s games.
Keauna McLaughlin – Figure Skating
McLaughlin originally began single skating but later transitioned to pair skating at the age of 10. Competing with partner Rockne Brubaker, the pair has won medals in various events at the US Figure Skating Championships and even qualified for the 2008 Worlds Competition, but could not compete due to McLaughlin being too young. With a varied ethnic background of Japanese, Mayan Mexican, French, Spanish and Austrian, her name “Keauna”, in Hawaiian, means “feminine wind running through the forest.” This will be her first appearance in an Olympic game.
Amanda Evora – Figure Skating
In perhaps a simple twist of fate, Evora was first introduced to the sport by haphazardly stumbling upon her sister’s ice skates and decided to try the sport simply because the skates fit. Born in New York and of Filipno descent, Evora will compete with partner Mark Ladwig, who was impressed by the young skater’s ambition when she opted to try a throw triple loop upon their first meeting. Since then, Evora and Ladwig have placed respectfully in National competitions of the past, but have finally broken through to the top three to qualify for their first Olympic debut.
These athletes not only represent the United States, but are trailblazing the path towards breaking the stereotype of the non-athletic Asian American. Regardless of their performance, it has already been an incredible feat for them to break through and earn the right to compete at the worldwide level. Let’s all wish them the best of luck for both our country and our culture.