maame bainey

African-Americans and first-generation Africans have a scarce yet rich history of competing at the Winter Olympics, from figure skater Debi Thomas to bobsled athlete Vonetta Flowers. And speed skater Shoni Davis. 

This year, the team is rather sparse, down from 2018 Olympics that had 11 black Athletes. Here’s who would could find on the USA 2022 Olympic roster.

What’s holding back more African Americans from competing in Winter Olympic sports? Leading reasons are geography – you need to live in cold weather states – and if you do, there are travel expenses for competing, equipment expenses and lack of representation – think what seeing Venus and Serena out there did for tennis.

For James Edward Mills, a prominent Black outdoors writer, it comes down to the snow industry devoting advertising and marketing resources that target people of color. After all, this will only benefit the winter sports industry in the long run as the nation becomes more diverse and wealth among racial groups becomes more evenly distributed. 

Most likely to medal this year:

Speedskater Erin Jackson, 29, was a longtime inline skater to transitioned to speedskting full time and in just 12 months qualified for her first Olympic Team in 2018. Her selection for Team USA makes Jackson the first Black woman to qualify in long-track speedskating for the United States and the second woman (Maame Biney, below) on either speedskating team. She won gold in the 500 meter in the recent World Cup, beating out the then gold medalist.

Strong contenders

Speedskater Mama Biney, 22, will be competing in her 2nd Olympics. Disappointingly, she didn’t place that year, but she’s back after a couple of injuries, more determined than ever. Unlike Jackson, Biney has been a competitive speedskater for years. She competes in the 500 meter short track.

Bobsled, Elana Meyers Taylor, 37 will be competiting in her fourth Olympics. Meyers Taylor previously earned Olympic bronze at Vancouver 2010, silver at Sochi in 2014, and a second silver at the 2018 PyeongChang Olympics. She has widely been viewed as a gold medal contender at the 2022 Games, hot off a 2021-22 Bobsled World Cup season that saw her top the standings in both the women’s monobob and two-woman disciplines. Her husband Nico Taylor is an alternate on the USA men’s bobsled team at this year’s Olympics.

Bobsled, Sylvia Hoffman, 32, was first discovered and recruited for the national bobsled team from the second season of “The Next Olympic Hopeful.”  She was officially given a spot on the US bobsled team after participating in the national team trials. During the 2018-2019 World Cup season she received bronze with partner Elana Meyers Taylor. Before bobsledding she was a college basketball player, and participated in weightlifting.

Bobsledding, Kaysha Love, 24. Despite growing up in snowy Salt Lake City, Love found her way to bobsledding from competitive college track and field. She earned a spot on the USA 2020 four-woman team bobsled team, beating out three prior Olympians. She will also compete in the two-woman bobsledding competition. 

Bobsledding, Hakeem Abdul-Saboor, 35, is a former college football running back who took up bobsledding after a video of him jumping up and touching a ceiling with his head caught the attention of a Team USA strength and conditioning coach.  He competed in the two-man event at the 2018 Winter Olympics and he qualified to represent the USA at the 2022 Winter Olympics. 

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