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About The Asian reporter. (Portland, Or.) 1991-current | View Entire Issue (Feb. 19, 2018)
Page 8 n THE ASIAN REPORTER
February 19, 2018
Pride for Asian-American skaters as they skate in the Olympics
INSPIRED SKATERS. Keita Horiko, the 10-
year-old U.S. Figure Skating juvenile boys champion,
practices during his second workout of the day at the
Ice House in Hackensack, New Jersey. With Asian
Americans making up half of the U.S. Figure Skating
team at the PyeongChang Olympics, talented young-
sters such as Horiko can hope to realize dreams of
one day being on the ice at the international level
as they have plenty of role models to emulate.
(AP Photo/Kathy Willens)
By Deepti Hajela
The Associated Press
ACKENSACK, N.J. — Keita
Horiko glided across the rink at
the Ice House, picking up speed
as he attempted a jump — and sprawled in
a fall as he came back down.
Unfazed, the 10-year-old U.S. Figure
Skating juvenile boys champion got up and
started skating again. His older brother,
13-year-old Yuki, also was on the ice,
practicing his own moves as they wound
down their second practice of the day
before heading home to Manhattan and
doing it all again the next day.
They’ve got Olympic-size dreams, and
when they watch figure skating at the
PyeongChang Games, they’ve got plenty of
role models — a history-making U.S.
Figure Skating team in which half of the
14 members are Asian American.
“It’s very inspiring and it makes you
think, I want to be like them,” Keita said.
While there have been Asian-American
figure skaters representing the United
States at past Olympics — the most
high-profile being gold medallist Kristi
Yamaguchi in 1992 and silver and bronze
medallist Michelle Kwan in 1998 and 2002
— there never has been anything like this.
For the women, there’s 24-year-old
Mirai Nagasu and 18-year-old Karen
Chen; on the men’s side, 18-year-old
Nathan Chen and 17-year-old Vincent
Zhou; among the ice dancers, sibling pair
Alex Shibutani, 26, and Maia Shibutani,
23, and Madison Chock, 25.
It’s a heady moment, especially because
Asian Americans as a minority group have
long faced stereotypes of being more about
books and brains than anything else.
“I think it’s supercool and exciting,” said
Mai Hoang Parmentier, 35, of Yakima,
Washington, who got into watching skat-
ing when she saw Yamaguchi compete.
“For me, growing up you had the
stereotype of oh, Asians are good at math
or academia or art or music,” she said. “I
just like the idea that my daughter can see
that she doesn’t have to be pigeonholed,
that she can actually be good at sports.”
Ryan Morris, 28, of Berkeley, California,
agreed. The skating fan planned on
making sure his young nieces and nephew
watched it with him.
“They’re going to see in the most
important sport in the Winter Olympics ...
people who look like them,” he said. “It’s a
Yamaguchi’s and Kwan’s not only skating
on a world stage but winning was likely an
impetus for a younger generation of Asian
Americans, and their parents, even to
“A lot of it is seeing a sport and seeing
others be successful and saying, I want to
do that, and that’s what you need,” he said.
“Winning really creates interest.”
There’s already been some success —
skating in the team event, Nagasu became
the first American woman to complete a
triple axel in the Olympics. That led to
some controversy when Bari Weiss, an
op-ed writer for The New York Times,
tweeted about the feat with the words,
“Immigrants: They get the job done.”
Nagasu was born in California, and the
since-deleted tweet was criticized by some
who said it touched on Asian-American
concerns about continually being assumed
to be foreigners.
Even that has echoes in previous
Olympics, as in 1998, when a headline
after American Tara Lipinski won the gold
medal read, “American beats out Kwan.”
Kwan was born and raised in California.
In this year’s games, much of the hoopla
around possibly winning has focused on
Nathan Chen in particular.
The Salt Lake City, Utah, native, who
predicted as a 10-year-old novice
champion that he would be at the 2018
Olympics, has been showcased as an
athlete to watch at these games because of
his athleticism and multiple quadruple
jumps. He is considered a frontrunner in
the individual men’s event, even though he
got off to a rough start by finishing fourth
in the men’s short program for the team
skating event after an uncharacteristic fall
during a triple axel.
That Asian Americans are being
represented on the men’s side as well as
the women’s is important, said Phil Yu,
who writes about pop culture and other
subjects on his Angry Asian Man blog.
Chen’s overall presence and success “is a
powerful statement for Asian-American
men who have generally had this stereo-
type hang over them of being not athletic,
not expressive,” he said.
“To have someone like Nathan Chen
excel, not only excel, but blow all these
other people out of the water, it’s a
powerful thing,” Yu said.
It certainly is for Yuki Horiko. Seeing
someone Asian American like him go after
Olympic gold “gives me more confidence”
for his own hopes, the 13-year-old said.
“If he can do it, maybe I can do it.”
Deepti Hajela covers issues of race, ethnicity,
and immigration for The Associated Press.
“Shirtless” Tongan skier, others
“live to fight another day”
An Educ a tion Big g e r
tha n a Ne ig hborhood.
By Steve Reed
The Associated Press
Sc ho o lwide O pe n Ho use : Ja n 30, 6- 8pm
Cha t with Alumni Nig ht: Ma r 20, 6- 7:30pm
p e rso na l to urs a lso a va ila b le
• La ng ua g e Imme rsio n in Sp a nish,
Ja p a ne se , o r C hine se
Inq uiry-b a se d , Inte rna tio na l
Ba c c a la ure a te PYP Wo rld Sc ho o l
Pro fe ssio na l Fa c ulty fro m 17 c o untrie s
Ed uc a ting g lo b a l c itize ns sinc e 1990
intlsc ho o l.o rg
of the Dog!
February 16, 2018
to February 4, 2019
Korea — The “shirtless”
Tongan, all covered up to
keep warm this time, had only one
thought as he maneuvered around
the final downhill turn and headed
toward the finish line.
“Please god,” the Olympic cross-
country skier said to himself, “not in
front of everyone. Don’t give me my
Pita Taufatofua made it to the
finish line, all right, and he did it
before they closed the course for the
night — the other of his two fears
heading into the event.
The man who has marched
shirtless and oiled up in the last two
Olympics — summer and winter —
wasn’t even last in the race.
Taufatofua was, however, near the
back in 114th place out of 116
finishers, about 33 minutes behind
gold medallist Dario Cologna.
And that was just fine by him.
“I would rather finish toward the
end of the pack with all of my friends
than somewhere in the middle by
myself,” said Taufatofua, who took up
the sport last year after competing in
taekwondo at the 2016 Rio de Janeiro
Games. “We fought together, we
Taufatofua and several others, like
43-year-old German Madrazo of
Mexico, literally went around the
world to qualify for the Winter
Games, forging tight friendships
along the way in pursuit of a common
They tried cross-country qualifying
PERSISTING TO PYEONGCHANG. Pita Taufatofua carries the flag of Tonga during the
opening ceremony of the 2018 Winter Olympics in PyeongChang, South Korea. Taufatofua had
more on his mind than just trying to compete at the Olympics. The 34-year-old cross-country
skier is concerned about his homeland after it was hit by a cyclone. (AP Photo/Jae C. Hong)
races in Armenia, Poland, Turkey,
and Austria. And failed.
Finally, they travelled to Iceland
and made it in the last qualifying race
before the PyeongChang Games,
spending nearly every last penny
they had to reach their Olympic
“Pita and I spent two months,
fighting and fighting every day,”
Madrazo said. “One day we were
completely out of money and we had
one last chocolate bar. There was
nothing left and we split that
chocolate bar and said, ‘Well brother,
we live to fight another day.’”
Madrazo had to call home to Mexico
to get a flight back from Iceland,
having only bought a one-way ticket
because that was all he could afford.
His story is not unique.
The 15-kilometer freestyle is the
United Nations of cross-country
skiing races. There was Kequyen
Lam of Portugal, Sebastian Uprimny
of Colombia, and Klaus Jungbluth
Rodriguez of Ecuador among the late
finishers after most of the crowd had
left. Syed Human of Pakistan and
Samir Azzimani of Morocco were
None of them are elite cross-
country skiers, but they were all
eager to represent their country at
the PyeongChang Games.
The work those men put in to
qualify for the Olympics was not lost
on Cologna, a three-peat gold
medallist in the event.
“I think it’s good to have many
skiers from many countries here,”
Cologna said. “I think we have
around 60 nations. I suppose we are
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