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These are the top U.S. athletes to watch in the Beijing Winter Olympics

More than 200 American athletes are preparing for the Beijing Winter Olympics, which begin February 4And with all eyes on the Games, these are some of the top ones to watch. 

Erin Jackson

The world’s top female speed skater will be making her second Olympic appearance after Team USA teammate Brittany Bowe gave up her spot. Jackson, 29, is just months removed from winning the speed skating World Cup, becoming the first Black woman to do so. She is currently ranked No. 1 in the women’s 500-meter by the International Skating Union and will compete in the same event in Beijing. 

ISU World Cup Speed Skating - Salt Lake City
Erin Jackson is going to the Beijing Olympics after her teammate gave up a spot for her. ALEX GOODLETT – INTERNATIONAL SKATING UNION/INTERNATIONAL SKATING UNION VIA GETTY IMAGES

Mikaela Shiffrin

Will Shiffrin continue her dominance? She won the last women’s World Cup slalom before the Beijing Olympics. It was Shiffrin’s 47th career slalom win, making her the first skier in World Cup history to win that many races in a single discipline. Shiffrin, who won gold in the slalom at the 2014 Sochi Olympics and in the giant slalom at the 2018 Pyeongchang Olympics, is expected to be a top contender in this year’s Games. 

Audi FIS Ski World Cup Snow Queen Trophy - Women's Slalom
Mikaela Shiffrin competes during the Audi FIS Ski World Cup Snow Queen Trophy Women’s Slalom at Sljeme on January 04, 2022. GETTY IMAGES

Shaun White

White will make his fifth Olympics appearance after finishing fourth among Americans in the World Snowboard Points list before Beijing. He has three gold medals in the halfpipe – from 2006, 2014 and 2018 – making him the most decorated male Olympic snowboarder. It will likely be the curtain call for White’s Olympic career. He told Rolling Stone magazine he wants to retire from the Games after Beijing. 

Snowboard - Winter Olympics Day 5
Shaun White of United States celebrates after winning the Men’s Halfpipe Final at Phoenix Snow Park in 2018 in Pyeongchang-gun, South Korea.IAN MACNICOL / GETTY IMAGES

Chloe Kim

The 21-year-old turned heads in Pyeongchang four years ago, when, at 17 years old, she won gold in the halfpipe, becoming the youngest American to ever medal in snowboarding. Now, she is favored yet again to repeat as Olympic halfpipe champion. Despite her success, she recently shared her struggles with mental health and the pressure of expectations as an Olympian. Part of the reason she’s comfortable going public is because “people are starting to become more accepting and also talking about these [mental health] issues more,” she said. 

2019 Burton U.S. Open Championships
Chloe Kim smiles on the podium after winning the silver medal during the Women’s Halfpipe finals at the Burton U.S. Open Championships at Golden Peak on March 2, 2019, in Vail, Colorado.DANIEL MILCHEV / GETTY IMAGES

Emily Sweeney

After a frightening crash in her final run that knocked her out of the Pyeongchang Olympics, the luger will be back for the upcoming Olympics. The incident broke her neck and back, and it nearly ended her career. Since then, she has documented her recovery and while she admits she gets scared sometimes, she said Beijing will be another shot at earning a medal. She’s also part of the Army’s World Class Athlete Program.

FIL Luge World Championship Day 1
Emily Sweeney of USA completes the sprint women’s competition of the FIL World Cup at Veltins Eis-Arena in 2019.TF-IMAGES/TF-IMAGES VIA GETTY IMAGES

Nathan Chen

Chen, 22, recently won his sixth figure skating championship and is now aiming for gold in Beijing. Expected to be a top contender in the Pyeongchang Olympics in 2018, he failed to medal in the individual event. However, he did earn a bronze medal in the team event. 

(AP/Kazuki Wakasugi)

John Shuster

The curling legend will be back for this fifth Winter Olympics. After two straight disappointing Olympic appearances in 2010 and 2014, Shuster and his team finally won gold in 2018, a first for the Americans in the event. No one has ever won multiple gold medals in men’s curling, but Shuster and his team want to take a stab at it, saying his team is “full of fighters.”

President Trump Welcomes U.S. Olympic Athletes To The White House
Olympic curler John Shuster attends White House ceremony in 2018. Cheriss May/NurPhoto via Getty Images

U.S. women’s hockey team 

USA Hockey announced its roster for the women’s ice hockey team this month, and they’re ready to defend their gold medal in Beijing. Of their 23 players, 15 have prior Olympic experience. Among them, forward Hilary Knight returns for her fourth Olympics. Team USA’s ongoing rivalry with Canada, who has four gold medals in the event, will be must-see TV if they meet again in the finals. 

This will be the second-straight Winter Olympics with no NHL players. 

U.S. Women's National Ice Hockey Team Training
Hilary Knight warms up before an exhibition game against the New Mexico Ice Wolves at Outpost Ice Arenas in November. Getty Images

Elana Meyers Taylor

Three-time Olympic medalist Elana Meyers Taylor heads to Beijing as a favorite in the monobob, which makes its Olympic debut in February. Meyers Taylor secured the women’s monobob overall world cup title and knows her way around a bobsled – she won silver in 2018 and 2014 and captured bronze in 2010 in the two-woman bobsled. 

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Olympic bobsledder Elana Meyers Taylor in Washington, D.C. in April 2018. Cheriss May/NurPhoto via Getty Images

Mariah Bell 

The 25-year-old figure skater won a national championship this month, becoming the oldest woman to hold the title since 1927. It was her ninth appearance at national championships and her first title. Bell, a two-time Olympic medalist, now has her eyes on Beijing, where no individual woman 25 years or older has figure skated for Team USA in the Winter Olympics since 1928. 

“Age is literally a number,” Bell told NBC Sports. “It means nothing. If you have a dream, there is no limit on the time you have to achieve that dream, for sure.”

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Mariah Bell of USA in action during the Exhibition Galla the ISU Grand Prix of Figure Skating on November 28, 2021 in Sochi, Russia. Oleg Nikishin – International Skating Union/International Skating Union via Getty Images

Alex Ferreira 

The freestyle skier is going to Beijing and is an Olympic medal favorite. Ferreira, who is the son of a pro Argentinian soccer player, won silver after his performance in the ski halfpipe in Pyeongchang and won X Games Aspen in 2019 and 2020. 

Medal Ceremony - Winter Olympics Day 13
Alex Ferreira of United States poses with his Silver medal from the Men’s Ski Halfpipe Final at Medal Plaza on February 22, 2018.  Ian MacNicol / Getty Images

Alysa Liu

At 16 years and 6 months old, Liu is the youngest member of Team USA, according to the USOPC. Despite not being able to participate in the U.S. Figure Skating Championships after catching COVID-19, she’s ready for Beijing. She already has a host of accomplishments, including becoming the youngest woman to ever win the U.S. figure skating championships when she was 14 years old and becoming the first to land a quadruple jump at nationals. Adam Rippon, who won bronze in the team event at the 2018 Pyeongchang Olympics, said she has the potential to be the “Simone Biles of figure skating.” 

2022 U.S. Figure Skating Championships - Day 1
Alysa Liu is primed to make noise in her first ever Winter Olympics.  Getty Images

David Wise

The gold medalist skier is back for his third Winter Olympics and looking for a three-peat in the skiing halfpipe. He beat out Team USA teammate Alex Ferreira in the 2018 Pyeongchang Olympics and was the first Olympic champion in the men’s ski halfpipe when the sport debuted at the Games in 2014.

Toyota U.S. Grand Prix Mammoth Mountain - Day 4
David Wise is looking to grab his third gold medal in a row in the skiing halfpipe. Sean M HaffeyGETTY IMAGES / Getty Images

By Christopher Brito \ CBS News

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