Is anyone else still having withdrawals from last year’s Tokyo Summer Olympics? Whether it’s witnessing the talented Suni Lee slay on the U.S. women’s gymnastics team or learning mental health lessons from the legendary Simone Biles, there are some pretty incredible moments that emerge every time the Olympics roll around. Not only is it inspiring to watch your favorite athletes compete on the world’s biggest stage, but the Olympic Games can also give you something to get excited about — all while sparking important cultural conversations, like why misogyny exists in the sports world and, of course, why everyone was so obsessed with making sure Olympians weren’t hooking up with each other in Olympic Village.
While Tokyo’s cardboard beds are (fortunately) a thing of the past and the Olympic Village has reportedly become a lot comfier, winter is upon us, which means the Olympic Games have returned in full force. This time, summer sports like gymnastics and swimming have been replaced with skiing, snowboarding, figure skating, and more. And while the weather might be chillier these days, Gen Z athletes are bringing major heat with their prodigy-like talent and drive to go for the gold.
Whether you’re new to watching the Winter Games or your favorite hobby is cheering on Hailey Langland and her fellow snowboarder BF Red Gerard (they’re a total power couple) on the slopes, it’s time to cozy up on your couch and root for the talented Gen Z athletes who are making waves in sports. Here are 10 amazing young women competing at the 2022 Winter Olympics in Beijing, and why they should be on your list of athletes to watch.
Alysa liu, 16
Alysa Liu has been skating since she was five years old, and is the youngest woman ever to win a U.S. National Figure Skating Championship. She won the title when she was just 13 years old, and at the age of 12, she became the youngest skater in history to land a triple axel. This year, she competes in her first-ever Olympics.
verónica ravenna, 23
Verónica Ravenna is a luger from Buenos Aires, Argentina. Ravenna participated in the 2016 Winter Youth Olympics in Norway and made her Olympic debut in Pyeongchang in 2018, where she became the second Argentine woman to compete in luge at an Olympic Games. This year, she returns to the Olympics and is ready to give it her all in Beijing.
chloe kim, 21
American snowboarding superstar Chloe Kim is a six-time X Games gold medalist, and at the 2018 Winter Olympics, she became the youngest woman to win a gold medal for Olympic snowboarding at just 17 years old. This year in Beijing, Kim is ready to win gold again — and in the meantime, she’s reportedly loving life in the Olympic Village.
maame biney, 22
In the 2018 Olympics in Pyeongchang, Biney became the youngest skater and the first Black woman to compete for the U.S. in short-track speedskating. Not only does she hope to revolutionize the world of speedskating for young women and girls, but she’s also pioneering a new technology that uses motion sensors to capture her every move on the ice. (As if we couldn’t be more impressed!)
Karen Chen, 22
American figure skater Karen Chen just won the silver medal at the 2022 Olympic Games, and we couldn’t be more proud! At just 22 years old, Chen has also earned multiple bronze medals over the past few years, earning recognition as a young talent in the world of figure skating. Plus, she was admitted to Cornell University’s School of Human Ecology as part of the class of 2023 and plans to major in Human Biology, Health, and Society on a pre-med track. We love an Olympian who truly does it all!
maddie mastro, 21
A California native, Mastro has been snowboarding since age six. This year, the two-time Olympic snowboarder returns to the Winter Games in Beijing to compete in the halfpipe after placing 12th in women’s halfpipe in Pyeongchang. According to her Team USA profile, Mastro also loves surfing, soccer, camping, photography, and hanging with her dogs. Don’t you love when Olympians are just like us?
Eileen Gu, 18
Eileen Gu is a Chinese-American freestyle skier in halfpipe, slopestyle, and big air who hails from San Francisco. Apart from being a star athlete, Gu is a signed model and she has been recognized on the Forbes 30 Under 30 List. Gu’s decision to represent China this year in Beijing has sparked a lot of conversation, and it’s safe to say this incoming Stanford student will be a prominent athlete and Gen Z figure to watch.
Tessa Maud, 18
According to U.S. Ski and Snowboard, Tessa Maud was named to the U.S. Snowboard Team at just 14 years old. Hailing from Carlsbad, California, Maud started snowboarding at age 4 and is now competing in her first-ever Olympics. You’ll love her TikTok videos that give a glimpse into athlete life and what her experience has been so far in Beijing!
Kamila Valieva, 15
15-year-old Russian figure skater Kamila Valieva just became the first woman to ever land a quad in Olympic history, earning her the much-deserved gold medal. According to NPR, her hobbies include dancing, drawing, and now, setting world records as she managed to land one of the hardest jumps in figure skating. At a young age, she has already set multiple world records during her career.
Frida Karlsson, 22
In 2019, Swedish-born Frida Karlsson became the youngest cross-country skiing World Cup gold medalist in history. She has earned six medals over the course of two world championships, and at 22 years old, will definitely be a talent to watch this year.
These are just a few of the many talented Gen Z women competing in the Winter Olympics in Beijing this year. There’s also Kai Owens, the 17-year-old freestyle skier who persevered throughout the Beijing Olympics even after experiencing a dangerous crash, and Sarah Escobar, a first-generation American skier who will be competing for Ecuador, her home country. The Olympic games are always exciting to watch, but this year’s Gen Z athletes make the Games even more exhilarating to witness. Whether you’re tuning into the 2022 Winter Olympics between classes or could use a boost of inspiration to go for your dreams, follow the journey of these young athletes and prepare to be amazed.