In particular, many Asian American athletes dominated the podium, most notably Nathan Chen, Chloe Kim and Eileen Gu, all of whom have earned gold medals amid the fierce competition from other athletes.
On Feb. 8, Chinese American skater Nathan Chen won his first gold medal in the men’s single skating competition. With a 218.63-point free skate and a 113.97-point short program, Chen’s total score of 332.60 was far ahead of Japan’s Yuma Kagiyama and Shoma Uno, who took home silver and bronze respectively. Chen is the first American men’s skater to win gold since Evan Lysacek in 2010 and the seventh all-time.
Korean American snowboarder Chloe Kim won her second gold medal on Feb. 10 in the snowboard halfpipe. Kim is the first woman to win two golds in the snowboard halfpipe. In the 2018 Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang, she placed first in the halfpipe at just 17 years old, becoming the youngest woman to win an Olympic snowboarding gold medal.
Kim’s opening performance included an array of tricks such as the front and backside 1080, making it a flawless run. Kim joins American snowboarder Shaun White as the only snowboarders to defend their Olympic titles in the halfpipe.
California native Eileen Gu has won three medals for China, two golds in the freestyle skiing big air and halfpipe, and one silver in the freestyle skiing slopestyle.
Initially trailing behind France’s Tess Ledeux in the freestyle skiing big air, Gu perfectly executed a 1620 jump, a trick she had never tried before in competition, to push pass Ledeux with a score of 188.25.
Gu’s score of 86.23 fell short to Mathilde Gremaud of Switzerland in the freeski slopestyle, leaving her with a silver medal. After falling on the third rail on her second attempt, she was eighth. But on Gu’s final run, she managed to hit trick after trick including a double cork 1080 to land her just 0.33 away from gold.
On Feb. 17, Gu won gold in the freeski halfpipe with a score of 95.25, becoming the first freeski athlete to medal in three events in a single Games.
Her performances raise controversy as she was born and raised in San Francisco, but chose to compete for her mother’s home country. Despite this, Gu has maintained a neutral duality and hopes to connect both her Chinese and American heritage.
“When I’m in the U.S., I’m American, but when I’m in China, I’m Chinese,” Gu has often said in interviews, according to the New York Times.
These three champions have been outspoken about the issues they have faced. In 2021, Kim sat down with an interview with ESPN sharing the harassment she has faced as an Asian American female.
“Just because I’m a professional athlete or won the Olympics doesn’t exempt me from racism,” Kim said to ESPN.
It is safe to say that all three athletes have demonstrated excellence in Beijing. The representation is also a bright light amid the rise in anti-Asian hate crimes the last two years.
“So much Asian American excellence at the Olympics. You do us proud. Your strength, sacrifices, creativity, vision, and passion. We see you,” Korean American author Min Jin Lee tweeted.