USS Announces 2024 Youth Olympic Games Nominees
by Aidan Liu
The US 2023-2024 short track speed skating season started with a bang as the nation’s most talented skaters met in Salt Lake City, Utah to compete in the US Championships Short Track & Youth Olympic Games Qualifier. The competition ran from September 22– 24, with 28 men and 17 women competing for spots on the US World Cup Team and the US Youth Olympic Team.
Starting in 2010, the Youth Olympic Games were invented as a way to foster more sport participation within youths. For the upcoming 2024 Winter Youth Olympic Games, two male and female athletes with a birthday in the range of June 1st, 2006 to June 30th, 2008 were nominated to represent the US at Gangwon, Korea.
The athletes nominated to represent the United States in the 2024 Winter Youth Olympic Games are:
With this highly talented group of young athletes traveling to Gangwon next year, the future of US speed skating is bright. This is a golden opportunity for young athletes to compete on an international stage.
Sean Shuai, a 16 year old skater from Tulsa, Oklahoma, says “I’ve always lived my life on the edge of a blade. I had always thought I would be a hockey player and play in the National Hockey League when I grew up, but my future changed as soon as I touched a pair of speed skaters. Since that moment, I have never looked back. I have chosen the path of speedskating to the Olympic level, and I hope that I’ll be remembered as one of the all time greats at the end of my journey with this sport.”
For Kyungeun Jang, a 16 year old skater from Gangnam, Korea, this qualification is a chance to represent the U.S. in her birth country. “At the beginning of my skating journey, making it to the Youth Olympics seemed like the top of an unclimbable mountain. It was a tough journey, and I wanted to give up, but I kept pushing forward and working hard. Now, as I’ve qualified for the goal that I had been chasing, I see that the top of the mountain wasn’t just to qualify, but it is to win it. So, I will continue to put in the work and push myself to make it to the peak of this journey. Nothing is ever easy. Competing in my birth country for the Youth Olympics will definitely be a special experience for me.”
Elizabeth Rhodehamel, a 16 year old skater from Madison, Wisconsin, credits her coach and family for her success on the ice this weekend. She says “I want to especially thank my coach Hongyang Wang for his amazing guidance and encouragement throughout all these years, as well as my teammates at the Pettit Junior Short Track Program for always pushing me to work harder. Lastly, I’d like to thank my family for supporting me through all of this.”
The Youth Winter Olympic Games will be held in Gangwon, Korea from January 19 – February 1, 2024.
Aidan Liu is a short track speed skater from the Pettit National Ice Center Short Track Junior Development Program