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Team USA Leaps with Asian American Representation at the 2018 Pyeongchang Winter Olympics

Ice SkatingAt the 2018 Pyeongchang Winter Olympics, Asian Americans are already scoring points for representation in the Olympic sports discipline of figure skating.

None has been more prominent than the Team USA’s figure skating team. Seven out of 14 athletes on the team are Asian Americans, marking a historic number for Asian American skaters in Olympic games.

Asians on social media are enthusiastic about this representation:

These Asian American figure skaters include Karen Chen, Nathan Chen, Madison Chock, Mirai Nagasu, Maia Shibutani, Alex Shibutani and Vincent Zhou.

Ice dancers Alex and Maia Shibutani were inspired by Michelle Kwan’s spectacular performance on the ice in the 2002 Salt Lake City Winter Olympic.

“We were 7 and 10 years old, and remember sitting on the floor in our living room, listening to the Olympic fanfare, watching skating, and wanting to be like Michelle Kwan,” the brother-sister duo said to NBC.

Karen Chen has been dubbed the “quiet assassin.” She has a small physical frame, but told NBC “whenever I’m on the ice, I try to be as fearless and fierce and strong and powerful as possible.”

Angry Asian Man celebrated the representation and visibility of Asian American in the Olympics with the headline “LOOK AT THESE ALL-AMERICAN SKATERS GOING TO THE OLYMPICS”

CNN reports that after the first Asian American woman, Kristi Yamaguchi, won gold in the 1992 Olympics, ‘at least one Asian American figure skater has competed in every Olympic since then.’

There may be a number of reasons why Asian Americans are so successful in figure skating.

According to Audrey Weisiger, a former Chinese American figure skater and a coach, a smaller physical frame allows men figure skaters to perform quads more easily and handle the strenuous physical demands of the sport. Weisiger also noted the dedication of Asian American parents and cases of hard-working, immigrant families sacrificing a lot for the expensive training of their children. This is best exemplified in the case of 17-year-old figure skater Vincent Zhou, the youngest athlete at the Winter Olympics, whose mother gave up her job in Silicon Valley to support her son’s training.

Jason Thompson, the U.S. Olympic Committee’s director of diversity, notes that diversity in the Olympics is a work in progress.

“We’re not quite where we want to be,” he told NPR. “I think full-on inclusion has always been a priority of Team USA. I think everybody’s always felt it should represent every American.”

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