Meet the Winter Olympians from Minnesota

In Beijing, 25 athletes who have lived in Minnesota will compete

Chris Plys
Chris Plys of Team United States competes against Team Norway during the Curling Mixed Doubles Round Robin ahead of the Beijing 2022 Winter Olympics at National Aquatics Centre on Thursday, Feb. 3 in Beijing.
Lintao Zhang | Getty Images

With hockey, curling and cross country skiing, Minnesota offers talent to Team USA’s ranks in the Winter Olympics. Minnesota also has ties to Team Mexico.

This year, 25 athletes who have lived in Minnesota will compete.

You can watch them compete on KARE 11, or find more viewing options from NBC Sports.


Alpine Skiing

Audi FIS Alpine Ski World Cup - Women's Giant Slalom
Paula Moltzan of Team United States in action during the Audi FIS Alpine Ski World Cup Women's Giant Slalom on Jan. 25 in Kronplatz Italy.
Alexis Boichard | Agence Zoom/Getty Images

Paula Moltzan, 27

Paula Moltzan grew up near Prior Lake, Minn., but lists Robbinsdale as her birthplace. Now living in Massachusetts, Moltzan finished fourth at the 2021 World Championship in Italy.

Moltzan credits Erich Sailer, a renowned alpine ski coach based in Buck Hill, Minn., for her competitive drive.

"When I was 11, I joined the Buck Hill Ski Racing Club, where the world-renowned coach Erich Sailer instilled his passion for ski racing in me,” Moltzan said, according to U.S. Ski and Snowboard team website. “He taught me how to train hard while riding the rope-tow almost every night."

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Biathlon

BMW IBU World Cup Biathlon Hochfilzen - Men's 10 km Sprint Competition
Leif Nordgren competes in the IBU World Cup Men's 10 km Sprint Competition at Biathlon Stadion on Dec. 10, 2021 in Hochfilzen, Austria.
Alexander Hassenstein | Getty Images

Leif Nordgren, 32

Born in Colorado Springs, Leif Nordgren grew up in Marine on St. Croix, Minn., and attended Forest Lake Area High School. He’s competed in two prior Olympic Games in three individual events. His best event was being part of the relay team at PyeongChang 2018 that placed sixth.

Now living and training in Vermont with the Vermont National Guard, he took part in his first skiing race at age 4 and began competing in biathlons in 2007.

He’ll compete in the 4 by 6km mixed relay, the 20km, the 10km sprint, the men’s pursuit, the 4 by 7.5km relay, and the 15k mass start.

BMW IBU World Cup Biathlon Hochfilzen - Men's 10 km Sprint Competition
Jake Brown competes during the BMW IBU World Cup Biathlon Men's 10 km Sprint Competition on Dec. 10, 2021.
Stanko Gruden | Agence Zoom/Getty Images

Jake Brown, 29

This will be Jake Brown’s first Olympic Games, but he’s been competing in biathlon events since 2016. He’s from Eden Prairie, a graduate of Minnehaha Academy and while a student at St. Olaf College, in Northfield, competed in cross country, track and field, and Nordic skiing. He helped St. Olaf’s cross country team win the 2013 NCAA Division III championship in cross country.

Brown joined the Northern Michigan University ski team as a graduate student and finished his career with a top-5 finish at the U.S. Nationals.


Cross Country Skiing

A woman competes in the world ski championships.
Jessie Diggins of the United States competes during the 10km women's interval start free race at the FIS Nordic World Ski Championships in Oberstdorf, Germany March 2.
Matthias Schrader | AP Photo

Jessie Diggins, 30

Returning to the track after her 2018 gold medal finish in the team sprint, Jessie Diggins, of Afton, Minn., has continued to deliver strong competition in cross country skiing since the PyeongChang Games. She’s currently ranked third overall in the World Cup rankings, and claimed the World Cup Overall Championship in 2021.

Diggins is a board member of two winter related non-profits: Protector Our Winters, which raises awareness and fights climate change to keep winter athletics available; and Share Winter, which makes winter sports more inclusive and diverse by offering opportunities for children to try snow sports.

Americans Jessie Diggins, left, and Kikkan Randall win cross-country gold.
Americans Jessie Diggins, left, and Kikkan Randall celebrate after winning gold during the cross-country ladies' team sprint in 2018.
Lars Baron | Getty Images

Jon Soto Moreno, 28

Moreno is from Durango, Mexico, and now lives in Richfield, Minn. He started skiing in high school as a way to get in shape for spring sports, “but after a year or two, I decided to focus more on skiing because I fell in love with it,” Moreno wrote on his personal website. He has competed on the international level since 2019.

“It is an honor to represent Mexico and Minnesota like this, I like representing my roots. It inspires me to always give it my all,” he told MnLatinos.com.


Curling

Around the Games: Day 2 - Winter Olympic Games
Aileen Geving of the United States curling team attends a press conference at the Main Press Centre during the PyeongChang 2018 Winter Olympic Games.
Ker Robertson | Getty Images

Aileen Geving, 34

Geving returns to the Olympic Games, serving Team USA as an alternate to Team Roth. A Duluth native with a young family, Geving told Athlete she has no regrets moving to the team’s alternate.

Geving began her curling career at 10 and competed in three Olympic trials — her first at age 16 — before qualifying to compete at the Olympics.

2022 U.S. Olympic Team Trials for Curling
Tabitha Peterson of the United States delivers a stone during Game 2 of the U.S. Olympic Team Trials on Nov. 20 in Omaha, Neb.
Stacy Revere | Getty Images 2021

Tabitha Peterson, 32

Tabitha Peterson, from Minneapolis, played for Team Roth in PyeongChang 2018 Olympics as the team’s vice-skip. She returns to the Olympics, along with her sister Tara, as the skip for the same team.

With the new position, and her sister joining the roster, the team took home a bronze at the 2021 world championship — the first time the United States women’s curling team medaled in an international championship since 2006.

She’s also won gold twice in the U.S. Championship and has taken silver four times in the national competition.

2022 U.S. Olympic Team Trials for Curling
Tara Peterson of the United States delivers a stone during Game 2 of the 2021 U.S. Olympic Team Trials.
Stacy Revere | Getty Images

Tara Peterson, 30

Tara joined her sister on the team after Geving took time off to start a family following the 2018 Olympics. This will be her first time competing on Olympic ice, but she’s competed at the World Championship three times before: in 2014, 2015 and 2021.

When she was 8 and Tabitha was 10, the two went to the St. Paul Curling Club.

“We hated it. We had to get up early on a Saturday, we didn’t like it at all,” Tara told Athlete in Dec. 20. “But we kept at it, we got good and the rest is history.

2022 U.S. Olympic Team Trials for Curling
Chris Plys reacts after delivering a stone during Game 3 of the U.S. Olympic Team Trials.
Stacy Revere | Getty Images

Chris Plys, 34

Chris Plys is the newest member of the men’s curling team, but this is not his first Olympics. The Duluth native was invited to serve as an alternate for Team Shuster in 2010. He helped Team Shuster win a national championship in 2019 and 2020. He participated in the World Championship competition on various teams in 2009, 2018, 2019 and 2021. Plys will throw third and serve as the team’s vice-skip.

Plys will join Vicky Persinger in the mixed doubles competition.

2022 U.S. Olympic Team Trials for Curling
John Shuster of the United States delivers a stone during Game 3 of the U.S. Olympic Team Trials.
Stacy Revere | Getty Images

John Shuster, 39

John Shuster, of Chisholm, Minn., returns for his fifth Olympics Games after winning gold in 2018. He also won a bronze in 2006. He’s competed in the 2010 and 2014 winter games. Shuster now resides in Superior, Wis. and curls at the Duluth Curling Club.

Shuster has participated in nine World Championships, taking bronze in 2016 for the men’s team and a bronze in the 2019 world’s mixed doubles competition with Cory Christensen.

Shuster was also selected as one of Team USA’s flag bearers for the Opening Ceremony.

A curler throws a rock
John Landsteiner throws the rock while competing during the third night of finals at the U.S. Olympic Curling Team Trials.
Rebecca S. Gratz | AP

John Landsteiner, 31

John Landsteiner is a three-time Olympian and was a member of Team Shuster’s gold medal team in 2018. Born in Mankato, he now calls Mapleton, Minn., home. Landsteiner started curling at 8 after he watched his father play in a weekly league.

Landsteiner played in multiple world championships between 2015 and 2021, claiming a bronze medal in 2016 in Basel, Calgary.

Landsteiner will serve as the lead thrower for the men’s curling team.


Hockey

Aaron Ness
Aaron Ness skates with the puck during the second period of a game against the Dallas Stars in 2019 .
Christian Petersen | Getty Images

Aaron Ness, 31

Defense player Aaron Ness is from Bemidji and was named Minnesota’s Mr. Hockey in 2008. He has played with teams from the University of Minnesota to the Washington Capitals, the Arizona Coyotes and the New York Islanders.

He’s also played on American Hockey League teams and is about to start a season with the Providence Bruins.

Ben Meyers
Ben Meyers of the Fargo Force skates during the game against the Green Bay Gamblers in 2017.
Justin K. Aller | Getty Images

Ben Meyers, 23

This is the first Olympics for forward Ben Meyers, of Delano, Minn.

He currently plays for the University of Minnesota but has also played for the Fargo Force between 2016 and 2019, leading the Force to the 2018 Clark Cup.

During his sophomore year with the Golden Gophers, Meyers played in all 31 games of the 2020-21 season and had a total of 12 goals and 16 assists.

Brock Faber
U.S. Olympian Brock Roger Faber tries on clothes at Nike during Team USA athlete processing ahead of Beijing 2022 on January 31, 2022 in Los Angeles, California.
Joe Scarnici | Getty Images for USOPC

Brock Faber, 19

Defense player Brock Faber of Maple Grove, Minn. has been drafted by the Los Angeles Kings in the second round of the 2020 NHL Entry draft. He was a member of World Junior Championship team that took first place in 2021.

Faber also played for the University of Minnesota, and as a freshman recorded one goal and 11 assists.

Dani Cameranesi
Dani Cameranesi #24 of United States in action against Canada in the 2021 IIHF Women's World Championship gold medal game played at WinSport Arena on August 31, 2021 in Calgary, Canada.
Derek Leung | Getty Images

Dani Cameranesi, 26

Forward Dani Cameranesi, of Plymouth, Minn., is competing in her second Winter Olympics. She was a member of the 2018 PyeongChang team that took home the gold against Canada.

She’s also played on the World Championship team in 2015, 2019 and 2021, winning a total of two golds and one silver. She was named Minnesota Ms. Hockey in 2013.

Cameranesi has played for the Golden Gophers hockey team and currently plays in the Premiere Hockey Federation (formally known as the National Women’s Hockey League) with the Buffalo Beauts.

2019 NHL Draft - Portraits
Drew Helleson poses after being selected 47th overall by the Colorado Avalanche during the 2019 NHL Draft at Rogers Arena on June 22, 2019 in Vancouver, Canada.
Kevin Light | Getty Images

Drew Helleson, 20

Defense player Drew Helleson is from Farmington, Minn., and played for Boston College, while also earning NCAA East Second Team All American and Hockey East First Team All-Star recognition in 2021. He was drafted to the Colorado Avalanche in the 2019 NHL draft.

Helleson was a member of the World Junior Championship that won gold in 2021.

Grace Zumwinkle
Grace Zumwinkle #13 of United States in action against Canada in the 2021 IIHF Women's World Championship gold medal game played at WinSport Arena on August 31, 2021 in Calgary, Canada.
Derek Leung | Getty Images

Grace Zumwinkle, 22

A University of Minnesota alum from Excelsior, Minn., Grace Zumwinkle was named Minnesota Ms. Hockey in 2017. This is her first trip to the Winter Olympics, but she joined Team USA and played in the 2021 World Championship, where the women’s team took silver against Canada.

Besides playing forward in hockey, she was also a two-time high school state doubles champion for Breck High School.

United States v Canada
Hannah Brandt #20 of the United States skates during women's hockey action in Game #4 of the 2020 Rivalry Series against Canada at Rogers Arena on February 5, 2020 in Vancouver, Canada.
Rich Lam | Getty Images

Hannah Brandt, 28

Hannah Brandt is from Vadnais Heights and plays forward. Brandt has played on the international stage multiple years, including as part of the 2018 Olympic gold medal team. She also competed in world championships in 2012, 2015, 2017 and 2019, helping the team claim gold in the latter three trips.

Brandt played in 2018-2019 season on the Minnesota Whitecaps team, and used to play on the University of Minnesota Golden Gophers team. She was named Minnesota Ms. Hockey in 2012.

Kelly Pannek
Kelly Pannek skates with the puck during Game No. 4 of the 2020 Rivalry Series against Canada in Vancouver, Canada.
Rich Lam | Getty Images 2020

Kelly Pannek, 26

A Plymouth, Minn., resident born in Minneapolis, forward Kelly Pannek returns for her second Winter Olympics. She played with Team USA in 2017 and 2019, when the team won first place in the Women’s World Championship and scored a second-place finish in 2021.

Pannek played for the University of Minnesota, and now plays for Team Adidas in the Professional Women’s Hockey Players Association.

Lee Stecklein
Lee Steckle skates during the Women's World Championship gold medal game against Canada in Calgary, Canada.
Derek Leung | Getty Images 2021

Lee Stecklein, 27

Hailing from South St. Paul, Minn., and now living in Roseville, defense player Lee Stecklein played in two previous Winter Olympics, winning a gold and silver medal. She played on the U.S. women’s team and won first place in five previous world champions (2013, 2015, 2016, 2017 and 2019) as well as a silver in 2021.

Stecklein played for the Minnesota Whitecaps in the club’s first season in 2018, and was also on the University of Minnesota’s team.

Maddie Rooney
Maddie Rooney #35 of the United States Women's Team practices at the Wukesong Practice Facility on Jan. 31 in Beijing, China.
Bruce Bennett | Getty Images

Maddie Rooney, 24

Returning for her second Olympic Games, goalie Maddie Rooney is from Andover, Minn., and attended college at the University of Minnesota Duluth. Due to an injury in August 2021, she was unable to compete in the World Championship.

Her last-round save in the shootout to win, along with 29 stopped shots, helped Team USA win the gold in 2018 over rival Canada for the first time in five meetings.

During her time playing for UMD Bulldogs, Rooney had a record of 3,449 stops and holds three of the top four single-season records for saves in team history.

Noah Cates
Noah Cates #21 of United States skates with the puck against Slovakia during the IIHF World Junior Championships at the Save-on-Foods Memorial Centre on December 26, 2018 in Victoria, British Columbia, Canada.
Kevin Light/Getty Images

Noah Cates, 22

Hailing from Stillwater, Minn., and attending the University of Minnesota-Duluth, Noah Cates plays forward. This is his first Olympic competition. He’s a two-year captain for the Bulldogs and helped the team win an NCAA championship in 2019.

Cates was a fifth-round draft pick for the Philadelphia Flyers in 2017 and helped the U.S. win a silver medal in 2019 World Junior Championship.

2021 NCAA Division I Men's Ice Hockey Championship - Semifinals
Nick Perbix #25 of the St. Cloud State Huskies moves the puck past Andy Carroll #4 of the Minnesota State Mavericks during the Division I Men's Ice Hockey Semifinals at PPG Paints Arena on April 8, 2021 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.
Gregory Shamus | Getty Images

Nick Perbix, 23

A St. Cloud State defense player, Nick Perbix is from Elk River, Minn. This is his first Olympics. Perbix has been drafted by the Tampa Bay Lightning in the sixth round of the 2017 draft.

Perbix received the NCHC Second Team All-Star award in 2021, and the NCHC All-Rookie Team in 2019, and helped the Huskies reach its first NCAA championship game in 2021.

USHL Fall Classic - Day 4
Sam Hentges #15 of the Des Moines Buccaneers skates with the puck during the game against the Youngstown Phantoms on Day 4 of the USHL Fall Classic at UPMC Lemieux Sports Complex on October 1, 2017 in Cranberry Township, Pennsylvania.
Justin Berl | Getty Images

Sam Hentges, 22

St. Cloud State forward Sam Hentges, who was born in Fridley, Minn., will play at his first Olympic games. He played in junior hockey for the Des Moines Buccaneers and Tri-City Storm. Henteges was a seventh-round draft pick by the Minnesota Wild in the 2018 NHL entry draft.


Speedskating

Giorgia Birkeland
Giorgia Birkeland competes in the Women's 3000 meter event during the U.S. Speedskating Long Track Olympic Trials at the Pettit National Ice Center on January 05, 2022 in Milwaukee, Wisconsin.
Stacy Revere | Getty Images

Giorgia Birkeland, 19

Giorgia Birkeland was born in Italy and grew up in White Bear Lake, Minn., where she began speed skating at 8. She’s competed in the long track speed skating Women’s All round World Junior Championships and took 11th place.

She also considers fellow Team USA member Jessie Diggins her personal sports idol, listing Diggins quote “Your only limit is you” as her favorite mantra.