The U-S Figure Skating Championships have come to a close in Nashville and now, not only do we have a new group of national champions, but we have the final decision on the 16 skaters who will be heading to the Beijing Olympics next month.
NewsChannel 34’s Kristina Shalhoup has the rundown on the new Olympic team.
This past week, the US figure skating championships were full of heartbreak and triumph.
But for sixteen skaters, the honor went beyond bronze, silver or gold.
It extended all the way to red, white and blue.
The colors they’ll be wearing on behalf of the United States in Beijing in a matter of weeks.
Three women were chosen in the ladies singles category, starting with Mariah Bell.
This will be Bell’s first Olympic Games, and as a 25 year-old, she’ll be the oldest of the three ladies competing from the USA.
She cruised to an Olympic bid after an inspiring win this past week.
“I decided that this was something that I completely was capable of, and I wasn’t going to let this dream slip away. I just really leaned into my support system and I’m so grateful for all the highs, all the lows. I wouldn’t change a thing,” says Bell.
Bell will be accompanied by Karen Chen, who has made the Olympic team for the second time, and Alysa Liu, another Olympic rookie.
Liu had to withdraw from the US Championships after contracting COVID-19.
That was also the situation for Brandon Frazier, who had been chosen to represent America in Paris skating with his partner, Alexa Knierim.
They’ll be heading to Beijing alongside Ashley Cain-Gribble and Timothy Leduc, who stood at the top of the podium at the end of the National Championships this week.
“We’ve worked really hard all season building ourselves up, and we feel like we have more room to grow and show our best programs ever at the Olympics,” says Leduc.
This will be Cain-Gribble and Leduc’s first time at the Olympic Games.
After an electric performance this past week, ice dancers Kaitlyn Hawayek and Jean-Luc Baker will also be representing the country at the Olympics for the first time.
“Those are the moments we really live for,” says Baker.
“It is a little bit surreal, in a way. It’s something we’ve been working on and working toward for the last ten years of our skating career,” says Hawayek.
They’ll be joined by two powerhouse ice dance teams, Madison Hubbell and Zachary Donohue, and Madison Chock and Evan Bates.
Bates already has significant Olympic legacy – this will be his fourth time at the games, and his third with partner in ice dance, and in life, Madison Chock.
“The coolest thing I think is having the opportunity to inspire, and we all have that opportunity now as Olympians,” says Bates.
The final decision on Team USA’s figure skaters was for the three skaters in the men’s singles event.
It was a no-brainer that the first man selected was six time national champion and king of the quads, Nathan Chen.
“I think this team is incredible. Just the amount of experience that we all have. The amount of work that we put in. Regardless of anything, we’re going to be able to have great skates there,” says Chen.
Chen will be joined by two other veterans in the international figure skating circuit – Jason Brown and Vincent Zhou.
“We have the opportunity to be on the biggest stage, doing what we love, and I think that is so special, and so unique about the games, especially at a time like this where things have been so up and down and difficult for everyone,” says Brown.
All 3 men will be skating in their second Olympic games, making this the only figure skating event where Team USA doesn’t have any Olympic rookies competing.