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10 Stand Out Athletes at the Winter Olympic Games

This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at UCLA chapter.

The Beijing Winter Olympics of 2022 proved to be one of the most intriguing and emotional winter games with a host of broken world records and retiring legends. This year’s games saw a variety of athletes break out on the biggest stage in sports as well as some of sports’ living legends completing the final leg of their career. Here is an inside look at ten of the stand-out athletes in Beijing making their own mark on their respective sport:

Nathan Chen

Nathan Chen, otherwise known as “the quad king,” is ranked number one in the world by the International Skating Union in the men’s individual discipline of figure skating. He performs some of the hardest quadruple jumps in figure skating, and he was the first person to perform five quads in competition. Four years ago during the Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang, he was the favorite to win gold at just 18 years old. However, after a messy short program that saw him fall on his jumps, he lost his chance at gold. Since that skate, he has only lost a single competition. During his short program in the men’s individual event in Beijing, he set a world record of 113.97, overtaking rival Yuzuru Hanyu’s previously set record. His clean skate in the long program saw him land five quadruple jumps, scoring 218.63 points and winning gold with a total of 332.60 points after scoring first in both programs. He became the seventh American man to win gold on Olympic ice, and the first to do so since Evan Lysacek in 2010.

Chloe Kim

American Chloe Kim soared to new heights at 17 years old after winning the gold medal in 2018 at the Pyeongchang Winter Olympics in women’s snowboard halfpipe. Coming into the Beijing Winter Olympics, she had taken a few steps back from her overwhelming fame after graduating from high school and enrolling at Princeton University. The snowboarder has been open about talking about the toll winning gold has taken on her mental health and how she was coming into her second Olympic games with a more open mind and less pressure on herself. After falling in her first run at qualifiers, she rallied to become the only American to make the final in the women’s halfpipe event. In her first run, she landed a switch 900, a backside 540, and two 1080s to score a 94, almost four points ahead of the rest of her competition. With her win, she became the first woman to win back-to-back golds in Olympic snowboarding.

Alexandra Trusova

Alexandra Trusova is considered to be the woman behind the quad revolution taking place in women’s figure skating. At just 13 years old, she became the first woman to land a quad Lutz jump in international competition at the junior level, the hardest quad jump attempted in figure skating. She was also the first woman to land a quad jump in combination and the first woman to land two quad jumps in the long program as a junior. Since then, she has been consistently jumping quads in her long programs, pushing herself to the limits and slowly building her quad arsenal over the years after her debut in senior competition. After she fell on an attempted triple axel in her short program, she found herself sitting in fourth place, just outside the podium. She rallied to land a record-breaking five quads in international competition and simultaneously became the first woman to land five quads at the Olympics. She cleanly rotated three of these, including a quad Lutz-triple toe combination, the hardest jump combination in figure skating. Her free program score of 177.13 saw her lead the free skate and ultimately take home the silver medal.

Lindsey Jacobellis & Nick Baumgartner

Both Lindsey Jacobellis and Nick Baumgartner have participated in five and four Olympic games respectively in search of the elusive gold medal in snowboarding. Baumgartner was the oldest American athlete participating in these Olympic games as well as the oldest Olympic snowboarder in history at 40 years old. Jacobellis suffered heartbreak back in 2006 after falling right before crossing the finish line, and Baumgartner in 2018 after just missing the podium in snowboard cross after placing fourth. In a relay-style competition, four men take on the obstacle course at the same time, racing through a series of beams, jumps, turns and other obstacles in order to get the fastest time. The women snowboard next, and the first woman to cross the finish line wins the event for her team. After easing their way through the earlier qualifying rounds, Baumgartner placed first in the first half of the final event after beating Italy’s Omar Visintin by four-hundredths of a second. Jacobellis sealed the deal by beating the Italian team and boarding it to first. Their gold medal win defied odds favoring younger teams to prove age had nothing on their skill set.

Ireen Wüst

Dutch speed skating legend Ireen Wüst has been at the top of the speed skating rankings since her first gold medal at the age of 19 in Turin in 2006. Since then, she has won at least one gold medal at every single Olympic Winter Games. She is the most decorated Olympic speed skater in history, with ten Olympic medals to her name before coming to Beijing. In Beijing, she made history as the first Olympian to win five consecutive gold medals for five Winter Olympic Games in a row. She joins a list of Olympic legends after winning her sixth gold out of 12 during the women’s 1500-meter speed skating event. She beat world record holder Miho Takagi of Japan in a close race, skating at a time of 1:55:28 and breaking the Olympic record for the event in the process. She is also the oldest Olympic champion in the history of skating at the Winter Games. As an LGBTQ athlete, Wüst hopes to keep inspiring the next generation of speed skaters even after her retirement.


American raised Eileen Gu became the youngest gold medalist in freestyle skiing at the Olympics, winning a total of three medals in Beijing. After her decision to ski for China, her mother’s native country, she faced a lot of backlash from American media labeling her a traitor. However, the 18-year-old silenced all naysayers after winning her first gold medal in Beijing in the women’s big air ski event. She landed a double cork 1620, a trick she had never landed before in practice or competition, in her gold-medal-winning run, spinning 4.5 times 20 feet in the air twice off-axis. In doing so, she became the first woman to land a left-turn 1620. Her win blew up Chinese social media, and amongst all the hate from American media, she received unprecedented praise and support from her Chinese fan base. Gu built upon her success, winning silver in the ski slopestyle event before winning a second gold medal in the Freeski halfpipe event. With her wins, she became the first Freeski athlete in history to win three medals at a Winter Olympic Games, and she won the most medals of these Olympics for China.


Former child actor Su Yiming made history for China after his gold medal-winning run in the men’s snowboarding big air event. At 17 years old, he was the youngest snowboarder in the field. He barely missed winning gold in the men’s snowboarding slopestyle event, settling for silver after losing to Canada’s Max Parrot by a few points. He bounced back in the big air event, landing two massive jumps in his first two runs to clinch the gold medal. On his first run, he landed a big frontside 1800, spinning five times in the air to set a base point score of 89.5 points. His second run included an even harder trick: an 1800 jump paired with a triple cork, where Su performed three off-axis flips. He was rewarded with a score of 93, outscoring all of his competition and winning the title of Olympic champion. He became the first Chinese snowboarder to win gold at an Olympic Games.

Arianna Fontana

Arianna Fontana, otherwise known as “the Blonde Angel,” made Olympic history after adding three more medals to her impressive resume. Coming into Beijing, Fontana was tied with Apolo Ohno and Viktor Ahn as the short-track speed skating athlete with the most Olympic medals at eight medals. She earned her ninth short track medal in the short track mixed team relay after the Italian team came in second place, winning silver. She continued to pave history as she marked herself as the most decorated short-track speed skater by defending her gold medal in the women’s 500-meter short-track event. She edged out current world champion Suzanne Schulting by skating a time of 42.488 seconds. She also remains the only Olympic athlete to win bronze, silver and gold in the same individual event. “The Blonde Angel” continued to impress after earning her second silver medal of the Beijing games, beating the Netherlands’ Suzanne Schulting by a margin of .003 seconds and sealing her place in history.

Wenjing Sui & Cong Han

It has been a long four years for China’s star figure skating pair of Sui Wenjing and Han Cong after winning silver in Pyeongchang, evading gold by a razor-thin margin. Both have struggled with injuries, Sui recovering from a broken leg and Han enduring hip surgery. However, the pair did not let that hold them back from putting on a flawless performance to Hans Zimmer’s “Mission Impossible” in their short program. They scored a world record score of 84.41 points, shattering the previous world record they had set just a week earlier in the team figure skating event. They followed up their short program with another world record score in the long program, earning 155.47 points in the long program for a total of 239.88 points to beat their Russian rivals. Their program included many difficult technical components, including a quad twist with Sui rotating high in the air to make up for an early mistake with a triple salchow jump both skaters performed. After coming back from so many setbacks, the pair won gold on home soil to cement themselves as one of the best figure skating pair teams in the world.

Anna Shcherbakova

ROC’s Anna Shcherbakova, the current world number one and defending world champion, won Olympic gold in her first Olympic games after skating two clean programs amongst turmoil and confusion in the women’s individual figure skating event. Alongside training partner Alexandra Trusova, Shcherbakova has paved the way for quadruple jumps in women’s figure skating. She was the first woman to land a quad Lutz in international competition at the senior level, the first woman to land two quad Lutzes in international competition and the first woman to land two quad flips in competition. Besides her quads, Shcherbakova is known for her fighting spirit, flexibility and artistic style of skating that has earned her numerous accolades across international competition since her senior debut. She has since dominated women’s figure skating at the senior level for the past two years; however, she was not flagged as an Olympic favorite after winning bronze at the 2022 Russian National Championships. After trailing ROC teammate Kamila Valieva by less than two points in the short program, Shcherbakova landed two clean quad flips in her long program and scored a season’s best score of 175.75 points with a combined total of 255.95 to take home the gold medal.

While the Beijing Olympics proved to be slightly different and more scandalous than previous Winter Games, they also were a place of history and world records as athletes took to the biggest stage in sport to perform at their very best. Athletes who had already established themselves as legends competed alongside aspiring legends to put on a grand show for winter sports as the world watched them carve their names and achievements in the record books.

Megha is currently a third year global studies major with a passion for digital journalism at UCLA. She loves exploring the arts beyond writing, including photography, graphic design, and painting. In her free time, she loves reading classic literature, making jewelry, and learning new languages!