The 2022 Winter Olympics in Beijing are just around the corner. As it has before, Colorado Springs — Olympic City, USA — will yield up its finest athletes to the games.
The city is particularly renowned for its crop of figure skaters, several of whom have studied at UCCS. This year, sophomore communication major Jason Brown will join the U.S. team for his second chance at Olympic gold.
Brown went to the 2014 Winter Olympics at age 19 and helped bring home a bronze medal in the team event. He won the 2015 U.S. Figure Skating Championships, or nationals, and has earned medals in various international championships as well.
His fourth-place finish at the 2022 Nationals and the rest of his body of work earned him a spot on the U.S. team. At this year’s Winter Olympics, he will perform a short program set to Nina Simone’s “Sinnerman” and a free skate set to John Williams’ “Schindler’s List.”
Brown follows in the footsteps of UCCS alumnus Mirai Nagasu, who placed fourth at the 2010 Winter Olympics and won the 2008 U.S. Figure Skating Championships.Embed from Getty Images
Nagasu also competed in the 2018 Winter Olympics, where she landed a triple Axel and became the first American woman to do so in Olympic history for the ladies’ singles category. Her performance helped the U.S. take bronze in the team event.
She graduated from UCCS in December 2020 with a business administration degree.
Other notable UCCS figure skaters at the U.S. nationals’ level including retired 2013 national champion Max Aaron, an alumnus who graduated with a finance degree, and 2021 national qualifier Paige Rydberg, a senior communication major. Junior biology major Samantha Udell also competed in the junior level at nationals in 2019.
UCCS also sports a decorated Winter Olympian in the short track speed skating discipline: Apolo Ohno, a former business major.
Ohno won Olympic gold twice in his event, in addition to two silver and four bronze medals, in 2002, 2006 and 2010. His total of eight medals is the highest of any American at the Winter Olympics and led to his 2019 induction into the U.S. Olympic Hall of Fame.
He retired from skating in 2010 and plans to publish a motivational biography, “Hard Pivot,” on Feb. 22.
Those who followed last year’s delayed Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games noticed a UCCS presence in the summer events, too. UCCS alumni and current students earned five medals in a range of disciplines.
Amber English, a 2012 alumnus, won gold in women’s skeet shooting, while junior mechanical engineering major Jennifer Valente won gold in women’s omnium cycling and bronze in team pursuit track cycling.
2016 graduate Kevin McDowell won silver in the mixed relay triathlon, while former 2014 student Adeline Gray won silver in women’s freestyle wrestling.
Two UCCS coaches also went to the 2020 Olympics, with Margie Hunt overseeing a gold win in women’s basketball. Cross country coach Mark Misch worked with the Estonian marathon team.
This year’s Winter Olympics will take place from Feb. 4-20. Brown may compete in the team events on Feb. 4 and 6 and will compete in men’s singles short program and free skate on Feb. 8 and 10.