Athletes to watch this winter

In a few months, athletes from all over the world will gather in China to represent their country and compete against the best of the best. One hundred days after the opening ceremony marks a major milestone for the athletes, as the drama of global competition, the jubilation that potentially accompanies being the best in the world and the honor of representing their country begins to become more noticeable.

While a few athletes have already punched their ticket, most are still in the process of qualifying or are about to start their journey.

Here are some athletes to watch this winter:


MAAME BIEY – Short Track Speed ​​Skating

Madame Biney

© Robert Snow / Red Bull Content Pool

At just 21 years old, Madame Biney is set to return to the Beijing Winter Games after her historic appearance at the 2018 PyeongChang Games, where she became the first African-American woman to represent the U.S. short track speed skating team.

Biney’s journey on the world sports stage is as unique as his beaming smile and sparkling laughter. She was born in Ghana and after immigrating to the Washington, DC area at the age of 5, she started figure skating until her coach informed her that she was “too fast” and he suggested speed skating instead. After growing up competing in taekwondo and speed skating, Biney focused on the latter and his young international career quickly took shape.

After her historic Olympic debut at age 17 in PyeongChang, Biney became the first American woman to win a world junior championship in the 500m, and in 2021 she had already won the US national titles in the 500, 1 000, 1500 meters and won the women’s general classification. championship, creating momentum ahead of Beijing qualifying.

Outside of the rink, Biney juggles her training and education at the University of Utah, where she started out in chemical engineering, then turned to information systems and is now studying biology.



Hilary Knight

© Josh Campbell / Red Bull Content Pool

The first player that comes to mind when it comes to American hockey – female or male – is Hilary Knight. The three-time Olympian won gold and two silvers for the reds, whites and blues, but it’s her impact off the ice – for the future of hockey and female athletes everywhere – that has elevated to the rank of legend.

Breaking down barriers throughout her illustrious career, Knight made history as the first (non-goaltender) skater to train with an NHL team. Her historic on-ice accolades speak for themselves – eight world championships and a record 45 goals, among other major achievements – but her actions to create equal opportunity and compensation for women players around the world will be her ultimate legacy. .

In 2019, Knight led a group of the world’s best players who announced that they would not participate in any professional leagues until better wages and working conditions were confirmed.

Additionally, she and other players established the Professional Association of Female Hockey Players, to create a unique and viable professional women’s hockey league in North America that offers enduring opportunities for future generations of female players.

Knight’s impact on and off the ice was recognized by Forbes’ 30 Under 30 List and ESPN Magazine’s Body Issue, becoming the face of women’s hockey around the world.

As she prepares for her fourth Winter Games in Beijing, Knight continues to write her legacy while creating equal opportunities for the next generation of female players.


MADDIE MASTRO – Snowboard (Half Pipe)

Maddie Mastro

© Daniel Milchev / Red Bull Content Pool

Maddie Mastro has earned several nicknames over the course of her young career – “American halfpipe prodigy”, “Mad Dog”, “Maestro”, “Straight-Air Queen”, among others – but “Olympic medalist” could be the next car she is positioned to represent the United States for the second time in Beijing.

Whatever her name is, Mastro, at just 21, has led the next generation of female snowboarders while racking up World Cup and X Games medals. Mastro literally grew up on the snow when she started skiing at the age of two and switched to snowboarding after her parents gave her a pink snowboard when she was six.

Aspiring to all competitions, Mastro continues to redefine the sport with her high-flying abilities and is already making history as the first woman to land the “double cripple” both in and off halfpipe competition. .

Puns aside, the sky is the limit for Mastro as she aims for the podium in China.


HAILEY LANGLAND – Snowboard (Slopestyle, Big Air)

Hailey Langland

© Dom Daher / Red Bull Content Pool

Since signing with Burton at the age of six, Hailey “Yung Greets” Langland won titles, medals and made history every step of the way. Now she is looking to make her second Olympics appearance in 2022.

Langland won her first World Cup Grand Prix at 14, won a gold medal at the X Games Big Air with her historic Cab Double Cork 1080 at 16 – becoming the first woman to complete the round in the competition of the X Games – and qualified for the Olympics at 18. .

It’s Langland’s diverse style and skills – from her rail play to aerial skills – that really sets her apart when competing in Slopestyle, Big Air and Superpipe competitions.

Her creativity doesn’t stop in the snow, as Langland is a self-taught musician playing ukulele, piano and guitar.


LUKE WINKELMANN – Snowboard (Slopestyle)

Luc Winkelmann

© Aaron Blatt / Red Bull Content Pool

North Carolina is not the typical home for snowboarding talent, but Luc Winkelmann has certainly put Tar Heel state on the map as he is one of the sport’s most promising young champions.

The member of the United States snowboard team had a breakthrough in 2019 – winning the Burton US Open Rookie of the Year and MVP at the first annual Red Bull Recharged – and continued its momentum by winning two Cup titles Nor-Am, a 2nd place at the World Junior Championships. , and participating in five different World Cups.

One of the most stylish and creative riders in the sport, the 20-year-old learned to snowboard the Appalachians and remains true to his roots in North Carolina. Winkelmann recently starred in a “Back to School Urban Snowboarding” rail report that showed how he pushes the boundaries in non-traditional snowboarding in his hometown.

Whatever the terrain, Winkelmann will bring his unique surfing style to China in 2022.


TOBY MILLER – Snowboard (Slopestyle)

Toby Miller

© Dom Daher / Red Bull Content Pool

Toby Miller burst onto the national scene at the age of 13 when he won the halfpipe contest at the US Snowboard Association National Championship in 2013.

Since turning pro, he has racked up five World Cup top-10s, three career X Games top-10s, two junior world silver medals and one junior world championship.

During his young career, Miller learned from the best as his training partners and mentors include Shaun White and JJ Thomas, preparing him for a long and successful career on and off the slopes.

Miller offers fans a unique behind-the-scenes look at his life through his passions for photography and video, which come to life on his Youtube channel.


NICK GOEPPER – Ski (Slopestyle)

Nick goepper

© Lorenz Richard / Red Bull Content Pool

Double Olympian (silver in 2014 and bronze in 2018) and gold medalist at the Winter X Games Slopestyle 2021 Nick goepper looks to China to complete its medal package.

Over the past decade, Goepper has set the record for the most slopestyle gold medals (four) in X Games history with two silver medals, in addition to two World Cup titles, one silver and bronze medal and two bronze medals at the World Championships, among other podiums. around the world.

Goepper’s unique origin story began in Lawrenceburg, Indiana, where he grew up skiing artificial turf-covered jumps in his backyard and selling treats to pay for his ski passes. After moving out west to officially train, his career took off when he turned pro in 2010 and began writing his historic CV.

Managing a string of shoulder injuries and a six-year gap between victories at the X Games, Goepper is back on track ahead of Olympic qualifying.

Off the beaten path, Goepper is a strong advocate for mental health awareness and suicide prevention and supports organizations such as Build hope and 1n5.


BIRK IRVING – Ski (Slopestyle)

Birk irving

© Dom Daher / Red Bull Content Pool

Growing up in a family of skiers on the slopes of Colorado, it’s no surprise that Birk irving became a Slopestyle star. With a ski patrolling father, an alpine racing coach mother and a halfpipe and slopestyle skier sister, the Irving family was made to ski.

Understandably, Irving started his slopestyle career at an early age, landing his first 360 at age five and earning his first sponsor at age seven. He burst onto the international stage at the age of 16 when he won gold at the 2016 Youth Olympics and hasn’t looked back since.

Throughout his young career, Irving has won podiums across the globe at the World Championships and the World Cup, but after a year away from competition due to COVID-19, he started 2021 with brio by winning his first X Games medal, a bronze medal, in the ski superpipe.

His momentum this year continues as he won bronze at the World Championships and was named to the 2021-22 US freeski team in hopes of qualifying for the 2022 Olympic Winter Games in Beijing. .


MAC FOREHAND – Ski (Slopestyle)

Mac forehand

© Dom Daher / Red Bull Content Pool

One of the most exciting freestyle skiers in the sport, Mac forehand has already made a name for himself on the international scene from an early age.

In his first full season competing on the World Cup circuit in 2019, the Connecticut native made history by winning the overall World Cup title in slopestyle at 17.

The forehand consistency continued as he advanced to the finals in every World Cup event he’s competed in this season, earning enough points overall to win the Crystal Globe on the most high step of the podium at the last World Cup event in Switzerland.

In the first Olympic test event for the 2022 Winter Games, Forehand finished 2nd at the United States Grand Prix World Cup, building on the momentum after a fourth place finish at the World Championships earlier this year. year.

Outside of skiing, Forehand is an avid mountain biker and volunteer for the Pan Mass Challenge, a 200 mile bike ride that is the largest cancer fundraiser in the United States.

Naomi C. Amerson