Half of the team are Asian American

A record for the number of Asian Americans in Team USA’s Pyeongchang Winter Olympics figure skating team has been set.

CNN reports that 50% of the Team USA’s figure skaters (7/14) are Asian Americans: Karen Chen, Nathan Chen, Madison Chock, Mirai Nagasu, the sibling ice dancers Maia and Alex Shibutani and Vincent Zhou.

Nathan Chen, 18, is a favourite to medal in the olympics.

Asian Americans have featured in the USA’s figure skating for over two decades. Kristi Yamaguchi was the first Asian American woman to win Olympic gold won her medal in 1992 and at least one Asian American figure skater has participated in every Olympic team since then.

“I think we’re seeing the rise of more diversity in our sport in the US,” said Yamaguchi.

“Any athlete can be successful,” she added. “You need certain values of work ethic, perseverance, determination and focus — for any athlete, no matter what your background is.”

Vincent Zhou, 17, makes his Olympic debut this year and is the youngest member of the US figure skating team. Zhou placed third in the 2018 US Championship.

Alex Shibutani, 26, and his younger sister, Maia Shibutani, 23, are competing in their second Olympics. The pair finished 9th in Sochi’s 2014 games.

24-year-old Mirai Nagasu and Madison Chock are competing in their second olympics too. Chock is paired with Evan Bates, with whom she placed 8th in 2014. Nagasu is the third American woman to ever land a triple axel.

Karen Chen, 18, won gold at the US National Championship in 2017.

Former Chinese American figure skater Audrey Weisiger said Asian American parents and immigrant parents sacrifice a great deal to support their children’s expensive figure skating training. “I find a lot of the skating moms are very driven and they want their kids to be successful,” she said.

“It’s parents living in America, willing to do anything. A lot of families invest everything and a lot of moms devote everything to their kids’ careers.”

Nathan Chen is extremely grateful for his mother’s support. “My mom spent most of my life with me on the ice, making sure that I was getting the right training in and doing all the right steps to do well in the sport,” he said.

“I wasn’t able to have lessons year round, she would stand on the ice, take notes of what the coach is asking me to do. And then after the coach left, she would continue training me, continue going over all those little things and she would ask the coach what specific things to work on, things that I could improve on.”

“She made it really fun. She made a lot of games out of it and she just made me find my passion for skating at a young age.”

In related news, Team USA entered the Pyeongchang Winter Olympics opening ceremony to PSY’s hit ‘Gangnam Style’.