(ABC4) – It’s no secret that Utah is a hotbed for churning out Olympians.
Twenty years after Salt Lake hosted the world stage for the Winter Olympics in 2002, many of the Utah natives that will be competing in Beijing, China over the next couple of weeks were just small children when the torch was lit in their home state. It won’t be long before the next batch of Winter Olympians from Utah will have been born after the Olympics had come and gone in the state (How’s that for feeling old, those of us who remember the ’02 Games).
Utah will be extremely well-represented in China, including the University of Utah, which will be sending an astounding 35 matriculated athletes to the Games. The true native Utahns, who were born and raised in the state, represent about a dozen or so members of Team USA, several of whom will be sure to grab the spotlight and possibly bring home a medal.
Here are the five Utahns to watch in the 2022 Olympic Winter Games in Beijing, China:
Nathan Chen, Figure Skating, Salt Lake City
The pride of Salt Lake City, who attended West High for part of his high school days, Chen is undoubtedly the biggest name on this list. Although he is just 22-years-old, Chen is already one of the most accomplished American figure skaters of all time. He’s won the top spot at the World Championships three times in addition to six consecutive national championships. He had a disappointing showing in the short program at the 2018 Olympics but then had one of the best performances in Olympic history in the free skate to finish fifth overall. Since missing out on an individual medal four years ago, he’s been on a tear and went undefeated at every single domestic and international competition up until this last October. Chen’s redemption tour will be one of the biggest storylines to follow, across any sport, during the Games.
Kaysha Love, Bobsled, Herriman
Love has had an interesting path to the Olympics. It wasn’t until 2020 that she first gave bobsled a try. Before that, she was a sprinter for UNLV’s track team after starring at Herriman High School. The story goes that one of her track coaches at UNLV mentioned her skills might translate to bobsled, a sport that has been known to draw from track and field stars as future sledders. It didn’t take long for the former top Utah high school sprinter to get good at her new sport. Really good, in fact. She’ll be on the four-woman team as well as the two-woman team with Kaillie Humphries, her teammate in a World Cup victory in Germany in December.
Rosie Brennan, Cross-Country Skiing, Park City
Brennan has already made one Olympic appearance, back in 2018 when she finished 58th in the 15km skiathlon. Since her debut, which found her way off from a spot on the podium, Brennan has found a groove and has made remarkable improvements in the world standings. In the 2021 World Cup season, she has been in the ranked top 10 in both distance and sprint disciplines and took the top spot in her last three domestic events. The 33-year-old is primed to have a great showing at the Olympics this time around.
Nick Page, Moguls, Park City
Page is very young at just 19-years-old, but over the last year has been entering the prime of his career. He found himself at the top of the podium during the Men’s Mogul event of last year’s National Championships in March, putting a sizeable gap between himself and the second-place finish. While he hasn’t found consistent success in international events, his multiple top 10 finishes in December show that Page may be peaking at just the right time with his first appearance at the Olympics.
Colby Stevenson, Slopestyle/Big Air Skiing, Park City
It’s pretty much a guarantee that Stevenson will be the subject of an emotional feature during the television broadcast of the Games this month. After suffering a skull fracture in a near-fatal car crash in 2016, Stevenson found his way back on the slopes and solidified himself as one of the best freestyle skiers on the planet. It may be hard to see when Stevenson is wearing his goggles, but the scars on his forehead serve as a reminder of his near brush with death and his miraculous recovery. Stevenson was forced to miss the 2018 Games due to a torn rotator cuff, but the two-time X Games gold medalist is set to make his Olympic debut and be a strong competitor for a medal this month.
Faye Gulini, Snowboardcross, Salt Lake City
Although she’s been to three different Olympics already, Gulini has yet to clinch a medal. After finishing 12th in Vancouver, she rallied for her best Olympic performance yet in Sochi, landing just outside the podium with a fourth-place finish. The third time around, Gulini had a disappointing 21st place finish in PyeongChang and is likely hoping the fourth time is a charm. The 29-year-old is more than capable of a big showing in China as she finished third in the World Cup Standings in 2021 and fifth in 2020.