Meet the Bay Area athletes set to hit the ice and snow at the Olympics

Locals to compete in slalom, hockey, figure skating, bobsled and biathalon

Though the Niners’ quest for a sixth Super Bowl championship has ended and the NBA All-Star break is still on the horizon, there’s no shortage of Bay Area sports figures to root for.

Just six months after the Tokyo Games, thousands of athletes are once again going for gold in the 24th Games of the Winter Olympics. Though they are competing across the globe, some Olympians are closer than you might think. Whether they train on the ice or snow, here are the Team USA members with Bay Area ties.

Nina O’Brien (alpine skiing) – San Francisco

Nina O’Brien (U.S. Ski & Snowboard)

Nina O’Brien (U.S. Ski & Snowboard)

Born and raised in The City, O’Brien is a first-time Olympian who specializes in slalom and giant slalom. O’Brien, 24, has also competed in the American World Cup as an alpine skier. Her best season came in 2020-21 when she placed a career-best ninth in slalom and earned a top-10 finish in the giant slalom at the World Championship. When not in the snow, O’Brien is studying economics and learning German at Dartmouth College and maintains the tradition of Dartmouth student-athletes and alumni competing in every Winter Olympics since the modern games began in 1924.

Karen Chen (figure skating) Fremont

Karen Chen (U.S. Figure Skating)

Karen Chen (U.S. Figure Skating)

Chen will represent Team USA in figure skating at this year’s Winter Olympics. Chen, 22, started ice skating at the age of four and began competing at the age of six. She won bronze twice in 2016 and 2017, competing in the Challenger Series U.S. Classic, and she also won silver in the 2022 Toyota U.S. Figure Skating Championships. This year’s games mark Chen’s second outing as she competed in the 2018 Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang, South Korea, and placed 11th.

Alysa Liu (figure skating) Richmond

Alysa Liu (U.S. Figure Skating)

Alysa Liu (U.S. Figure Skating)

Liu, 16, is the youngest on Team USA’s women’s figure skating roster. Despite recently contracting COVID-19 and being unable to compete at the U.S. Championship free skate, Liu still earned a spot on Team USA. Liu trains in Colorado Springs, Colorado. With many feats to their name, Liu became the youngest skater, at age 12, to land a triple axel at an international competition, and the youngest woman to win a U.S. Championships title at 13. If that isn’t impressive enough, Liu is the only woman in the world to land three triple axels in a single competition. Liu, who has completed high school, is ready to take on their first Winter Olympics.

Joanne Reid (biathlon) Palo Alto

Joanne Reid (Nico Manzoni/Nordic Focus)

Joanne Reid (Nico Manzoni/Nordic Focus)

Reid is no stranger to the Olympics; she grew up in Palo Alto with a family history of other Olympians. In 1980, her mother, Beth Reid, won bronze in speedskating, and her uncle, Eric Heiden, won five gold medals in speedskating the same year. Joanne Reid, 29, participated in cross-country skiing at the University of Colorado-Boulder where she received a degree in applied mathematics. Despite being a Winter Olympian, Reid’s bio on Team USA says her favorite place to travel is the American southwest because she loves the heat. The 2022 Winter Olympic Games will be her second appearance at the event.

Hilary Knight (ice hockey) Palo Alto

Hilary Knight (Team USA/Flickr)

Hilary Knight (Team USA/Flickr)

Born in Palo Alto, Knight is a four-time Olympian who looks to improve on her performance in the 2018 Winter Games where she won a gold medal. Additionally, Knight, 32, owns the record for the most goals scored in Women’s World Championship history with 45. In 2019, Knight helped form the Professional Women’s Hockey Players Association, a nonprofit advocating for better pay and conditions for professional women’s hockey. She is also the first female hockey player who trained under a National Hockey League team, the Anaheim Ducks. Off the ice, Knight enjoys mountain biking, mountain climbing and white water rafting.

Vincent Zhou (figure skating) San Jose

Vincent Zhou (U.S. Figure Skating)

Vincent Zhou (U.S. Figure Skating)

Born in San Jose and raised in Palo Alto, Zhou, 21, withdrew from the men’s singles competition Monday Feb. 7 after testing positive for COVID-19. A child of Chinese immigrants, Zhou’s skating journey started at the age of 5 after he attended a friend’s ice skating-themed birthday party. He competed in the 2018 Pyeongchang Olympic Winter Games, where he became the first person to successfully land a quadruple Lutz jump at the Olympics. He placed sixth in the individual category. Zhou is also a 2019 World bronze medalist, a 2017 World Junior champion, and a U.S. silver medalist in 2017, 2019 and 2021.

Nic Taylor (bobsled, alternate) Hayward

Nic Taylor (Matthew Troy/USA Bobsled)

Nic Taylor (Matthew Troy/USA Bobsled)

Taylor became focused on the bobsled later in his athletic career. He transferred from City College of San Francisco to CSU Northridge where he joined the track and field team. Post undergrad, he decided to try bobsledding and started training for the team. Taylor, 34, eventually became an alternate on the bobsled team for the 2018 Winter Olympics. Olympian is one of many titles Taylor holds. He recently earned a doctor of chiropractic degree from Life University on top of his Bachelor’s degrees in psychology and engineering. Taylor is married to three-time Olympic medalist, bobsledder Elana Meyers Taylor. The couple has a one-year-old son named Nico.

This story was updated on Feb. 4 to include Hilary Knight.

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