Bay Area Olympians include 3 U.S. figure skaters

We’re just days away from kicking off the 2022 Winter Olympics in Beijing, where the Bay Area will see five athletes born and raised here head out to compete.

It’s been less than six months since the closing ceremony of the coronavirus-delayed 2020 Summer Olympics taking place in Tokyo, where dozens of athletes with Bay Area ties competed, and only five months since the 2020 Paralympic Summer Games.

Since then, sports fans here in the Bay have seen the Giants end a sensational season by winning the NL West, the Sharks got off to their best start in a few seasons, the Warriors reclaimed their place at the top of the NBA. and the 49ers are on an exciting ride to the NFC title game.

So you’ll be forgiven if you forgot that the Winter Olympics weren’t just happening, but starting this week, as the Opening Ceremony takes place Friday morning at 4am PT. The first event actually kicked off today, with the first round of mixed doubles curling starting at 4 a.m. PT.

The sport most represented by people in the Bay Area is figure skating, with three skaters tied to the Bay Area. The star figure skater is Richmond native Alysa Liu, who will be competing in her first Olympics at 16. She previously became the youngest U.S. national champion at 13 in 2019, then followed that up with another U.S. title the following year to come back. -flip.

One athlete not listed but with a small Bay Area connection is American women’s hockey star Hillary Knight, who was born in Palo Alto but moved to suburban Chicago at age 5. She will lead Team USA in their bid to win their second straight gold medal and stand up to the Canadians, who had won gold at the previous four Olympic Games in a row.

Learn more about Bay Area’s five Winter Olympics athletes (in alphabetical order):

KAREN CHEN, figure skating
Event: Single ladies
Age: 22 — Place of birth/hometown: Fremont — High school: Connections Academy (online)
club: Peninsula Skating ClubCoach: Tammy Gambill
Olympic experience: 11th in PyeongChang in 2018
World Championship experience: 4th in 2017
Other Career Highlights: 12th at the 2016 and 2017 Four Continents Championships; 8th at the 2015 World Junior Championships; 9th at the 2014 Junior World Championships
Personal: Has a younger brother, Jeffrey, who participates in ice dancing. . .Started ice skating at age 4 and started competing two years later. . . Choreographed his own short program for the 2017 season.

ALYSA LIU, figure skating
Event: Single ladies
Age: 16 (the youngest athlete on the American team) — Place of birth: Clovis- Hometown:Richmond
club: St. Moritz ISC, Dublin — Coaches: Christy Krall, Drew Meekins, Viktor Pfeifer
Olympic experience: Olympian for the first time
World Championship experience: Was too young to participate in 2019, ’20 or ’21 events
Other Career Highlights: The youngest female national champion in the United States, having won her first crown in 2019 at the age of 13. Also won in 2020, making her the first woman to win back-to-back titles since Ashley Wagner in 2012 and 2013. . was the first junior American woman to land a triple Axel in international competition. . . won his first international competition at the 2017 Asian Open Figure Skating Trophy in Hong Kong before turning 12
Personal: Appeared on Jimmy Fallon’s Today Show and Tonight Show after winning her first US title. . . Eldest of five children, all of whom were conceived by an anonymous egg donor and surrogate mothers. . . Her father, Arthur, an Oakland attorney, emigrated from China in 1989 and raised his five children as a single parent. He graduated from Cal State East Bay before earning his law degree from UC Hastings College in San Francisco. . . Alysa takes classes online and often does her schoolwork from a cubicle in her father’s Oakland office.

NINA O’BRIEN, alpine skiing
Events: Giant slalom, slalom
Age: 24 — Place of birth/hometown: San Francisco — Residence: Denver
High school: Burke Mountain Academy, Vermont — Middle School: Dartmouth
club: Squaw Valley Ski Team — Coach: Magnus Anderson
Olympic experience: Olympian for the first time
World Championship experience: 10th place in giant slalom and parallel slalom at the 2021 World Championships in Cortina d’Ampezzo, Italy. She finished 28th in the giant slalom in 2019
Other Career Highlights: Won eight national titles in slalom, super-g, alpine combined, parallel slalom and giant slalom, including an upset win in giant slalom at the 2015 nationals as a 17-year-old
Personal: An economics major at Dartmouth (taking online classes), she spent the summer working at a private equity firm in Denver, while training before and after her shifts.

BRITA SIGOURNEY, Freestyle Skiing
Event: Half Moon
Age: 31 — Place of birth:Monterrey— Hometown: Caramel
Middle School: UC Davis and Westminster College
Olympic experience: Triple Olympian (2014, 2018, 2022), bronze medalist in PyeongChang in 2018 and sixth in Sochi in 2014
World Championship experience: Finished sixth in 2011 and ninth in 2017, finishing sixth
Other Career Highlights: First in the World Cup standings in the halfpipe in 2011 and 2012; Top 10 in World Cup halfpipe standings in 2014-15-16-17; Silver medal at the X Games 2011 in superpipe; Bronze medal at the X Games 2015 in superpipe
Personal: Started skiing at age 2 and joined the Alpine Meadows freestyle team at age 8. . . Played water polo while in college at UC Davis and was on his high school swim team. . . left Davis to train in Park City, Utah, where she resumed college at Westminster.

VINCENT ZHOU, Figure Skating
Event: Men’s singles
Age: 21 — Place of birth: San Jose — Hometown: Palo Alto
High school: Cheyenne Mountain High (Colorado Springs, Colorado) — Middle School: Brown University ’23
Team/Club: San Francisco Skating Club — Coaches: Tammy Gambill, Drew Meekins, Mie Hamada
Olympic experience: Two-time Olympian (2018 & 22), finished 6th at PyeongChang 2018, where he became the first person to land a quadruple Lutz jump
World Championship experience: Competed in 2018, ’19 and ’21, winning bronze in 2019. Finished 25th in 2021
Personal: Started skating at age 5 at a friend’s birthday party. . . Graduated from high school at 16 and took a year off in 2017-18 to focus on training. . . Ranked third at the 2018 U.S. Championships to win the first Olympic bid, despite a dislocated shoulder. . . Likes to write short poems. . . His parents, both from China, worked in Silicon Valley in the IT field. . . older sister Vivian is a violinist and a diver.

  • LAS VEGAS, NEVADA – JANUARY 15: Alysa Liu competes in the women’s free skate during the United States Figure Skating Championships at Orleans Arena on January 15, 2021 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Tim Nwachukwu/Getty Images)

  • American Vincent Zhou performs during the men's figure skating...

    American Vincent Zhou performs during the men’s figure skating short program at the Milan 2018 World Figure Skating Championship in Milan on March 22, 2018. / AFP PHOTO / MARCO BERTORELLOMARCO BERTORELLO/AFP/Getty Images

  • PYEONGCHANG-GUN, SOUTH KOREA - FEBRUARY 20: Brita Sigourney from...

    PYEONGCHANG-GUN, SOUTH KOREA – FEBRUARY 20: Brita Sigourney of the United States competes in the Women’s Freestyle Skiing Halfpipe Final on Day Eleven of the PyeongChang 2018 Winter Olympics at Phoenix Snow Park on February 20, 2018 in Pyeongchang -gun, South Korea. (Photo by Ryan Pierse/Getty Images)

  • Karen Chen performs during the women's free skating at...

    Karen Chen performs during the women’s free skate at the U.S. Figure Skating Championships, Friday, Jan. 15, 2021, in Las Vegas. (AP Photo/John Locher)

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