Meet The U.S. Olympic Short Track Team
by Chrös McDougall
The 15 women and 16 men competing at the Utah Olympic Oval raced twice at the three individual distances — 500 meters, 1,000 meters and 1,500 meters — and qualified based on their combined results.
In Beijing, the U.S. women will look to win their first Olympic medal since 2010, and they’ll compete in the relay for the first time since Vancouver as well. The men, meanwhile, are in a state of transition, and for the first time since 1992 did not qualify a relay team. However, the American guys will still see relay action thanks to the addition of the new mixed mixed relay event that features two men and two women.
Here’s a look at the seven short track skaters who will compete for Team USA in February.
Maame Biney competes at the 2022 U.S. Olympic Team Trials - Short Track Speedskating on Dec. 18, 2021 in Salt Lake City, Utah.
The only returning Olympian on Team USA was also one of the sensations of the 2018 Winter Games, when she became the first Black woman to make a U.S. Olympic speedskating team. The next four years had ups and downs for the Ghana-born, Reston, Virginia-raised skater, now 21. One year after her Olympic debut Biney claimed a junior world title in her signature 500-meter event, and she also won her first world cup medal that year at the same distance. However, she also struggled at times in the years to come and said she considered quitting the sport. The journey proved worth it when Biney — or should we say Anna Digger, her alter ego — claimed the combined 1,000-meter title in Salt Lake City while finishing second in the 500. Upon making her second Olympic team, an emotional Biney cried tears of joy.
Eunice Lee competes at the 2022 U.S. Olympic Team Trials - Short Track Speedskating on Dec. 19, 2021 in Salt Lake City, Utah.
If everything went as planned in Salt Lake City — a big if in the sport of short track — then four women looked like pretty good bets for the Olympic team. The fifth spot, however, was anyone’s guess. Lee, a 17-year-old from Bellevue, Washington, grabbed it. In fact, the teenager is so little known that she doesn't even have a bio on the US Speedskating website yet. After all, she’s not even on the national team. In Beijing, Lee, who was born in South Korea, will have an opportunity to compete in the relays.
Julie Letai competes at the 2022 U.S. Olympic Team Trials - Short Track Speedskating on Dec. 17, 2021 in Salt Lake City, Utah.
If three U.S. women came into Salt Lake City as solid favorites, Letai was solidly the best among the rest. The 21-year-old from Medfield, Massachusetts, ranks among the world’s top-50 in the 500 and 1,500. But her role in China will be that of a relay specialist. Letai has skated in the relay at two junior world championships and one senior worlds, and she was part of the U.S. team that clinched an Olympic quota spot for the relay for the first time since 2010, when the Americans won a bronze medal. A drummer in her spare time, Letai is also pursuing a degree at the University of Utah.
Kristen Santos competes at the 2022 U.S. Olympic Team Trials - Short Track Speedskating on Dec. 17, 2021 in Salt Lake City, Utah.
Santos fell just short of qualifying for the 2018 Olympic team while on the mend from a nasty blade cut. Now she rides into Beijing as Team USA’s top skater. The 27-year-old from Fairfield, Connecticut, has reached the world cup podium three times already this season, including a win in a 1,000-meter race in Nagoya, Japan. As a result, she ranks among the top 10 in the world in all three individual distances — including second in the 1,000 and fourth in the 1,500. And if you think she’s less competitive in the short race, recall that she took fourth in the 500 at last year’s world championships. The former figure skater, who fell for speedskating when she saw it on the Disney Channel, was the clear star of the women’s competition in Salt Lake City, winning four of the six races. That left her first overall in the 500 and 1,500, and the runner-up at 1,000. Now she should be Team USA’s best medal hope in Beijing, where the U.S. women will be aiming to win their first Olympic short track medal since 2010.
Corinne Stoddard competes at the 2022 U.S. Olympic Team Trials - Short Track Speedskating on Dec. 18, 2021 in Salt Lake City, Utah.
The great Pacific Northwest short track tradition that brought Team USA Apolo Ohno and J.R. Celski continues to deliver with Stoddard, a 20-year-old from Tacoma, Washington. A former medalist at the junior world championships, Stoddard came into the trials with top-22 world rankings at all three individual races. Like Ohno, Stoddard got her start as an accomplished inline skater before switching over to ice skates. The sport has since taken her all over the world, including a six-month stint training in rural Germany where she developed an affection for doner kebabs. At the Olympic trials, Stoddard joined Santos as the only skaters to finish among the top three at all three distances.
Andrew Heo competes at the 2022 U.S. Olympic Team Trials - Short Track Speedskating on Dec. 18, 2021 in Salt Lake City, Utah.
Heo, of Warrington, Pennsylvania, came into Salt Lake City ready to play the spoiler role. The 20-year-old ranked third among Americans at all three distances, but not by much. And when favorite Brandon Kim stumbled at trials, falling multiple times, Heo was ready, finishing second in the 1,500 and third in the other two distances. Still a rising star in the sport, Heo raced all three distances at last year’s world championships and was 12th in the 1,500. The skater, whose older brother Aaron Heo has also raced on the world cup level for Team USA, including at the 2016 Winter Youth Olympic Games, recently began relearning Korean, which was his first language after his parents emigrated from there.
Ryan Pivirotto competes at the 2022 U.S. Olympic Team Trials - Short Track Speedskating on Dec. 18, 2021 in Salt Lake City, Utah.
No American men at the trials had raced in an Olympics, but Pivirotto came close. He traveled to PyeongChang in 2018 but ended up watching from the stands as an alternate for the men’s relay and 1,000-meter races. He’ll get another shot after winning the 500 and 1,500 competitions this weekend and finishing second in the 1,000. Pivirotto, 26, originally from Ann Arbor, Michigan, had already gotten off to a solid start this season in the world cup. He ranks among the top 35 in all three distances. A former hockey player, Pivirotto was among the top-15 in the 500 and 1,000 at the 2021 world championships. After preparing for the 2018 Winter Games in skating-mad South Korea, Pivirotto, who built his own computer in his spare time, said training with his U.S. teammates this time around has given him a boost of confidence.