California Athletes to Watch at the Olympics This Week

Even if you haven’t been closely following the Winter Olympics, you may have heard of Kaillie Humphries, once an Olympic star for Canada, winning a bobsled gold medal for the United States on Monday after a contentious split from her old team.

Or perhaps you watched a clip of the snowboarder Chloe Kim landing an untouchably high score in the halfpipe. Or, my personal favorite, Nathan Chen delivering a mesmerizing free skate performance that earned him his first gold medal.

These are some of the biggest stars of the Beijing Games, and also (as you may have already suspected) athletes with strong California connections. Kim is from Torrance, Humphries lives in Carlsbad and Chen trains in Irvine.

The Golden State is pretty well-known for dominating the Summer Olympics, but it turns out we’ve also got a lock on many winter sports. In fact, California is the only U.S. state that has hosted both the Winter and Summer Games.

And of the 220-something athletes that the United States sent to China this year, 34 were either born in or consider their hometown to be in California, according to the team’s roster. That’s a larger contingent than any other state’s — Colorado is next with 29 athletes — and more than would be expected based on California’s population size alone.

Seven of the 17 athletes competing in Alpine skiing this year are from the Golden State, largely hailing from the Lake Tahoe area (where there are plenty of places to hit the slopes and where the 1960 Winter Olympics were held). Figure skating has also become heavily Californian (and, not incidentally, Asian American), and same with snowboarding.

As of early Tuesday morning, the United States had earned 17 medals, five of which Californian athletes could lay at least some claim to. But the Games don’t end until this weekend, so there are still plenty of events in which Californians can shine.

Here’s a rundown of some of the upcoming competitions. All times, of course, are Pacific:

Upcoming events featuring Californians

  • Ice hockey: Since women’s ice hockey was introduced in the Olympics in 1998, the United States and Canada are the only teams to have won gold. And that’s not changing this year.

    The U.S. and Canadian teams will compete for the top medal at 8 p.m. on Wednesday. Hilary Knight, a Palo Alto native and the world championship record-holder for most goals, plays forward for the United States.

  • Figure skating: If you want to watch live, the women’s singles free skate competition will air at 2 a.m. on Thursday. (Don’t worry, there will also be replays.)

    Competing will be Alysa Liu, a Clovis native who in 2019, at age 13, became the country’s youngest figure skating champion. The roster also includes Mariah Bell, who trains in Irvine, and Karen Chen, a Fremont native returning for her second Olympics.

  • Freeski: The final run in the women’s freeski halfpipe will be Thursday at 5:30 p.m.

    Competing will be Brita Sigourney, who is from Monterey and attended U.C. Davis. She won bronze at the Pyeongchang Olympics.

    Interestingly, her toughest challenger will most likely be Eileen Gu, a San Francisco native now competing for China, The San Francisco Chronicle reports.

    For more:

  • Why is the San Francisco-raised Eileen Gu skiing for China?

  • Nathan Chen won a gold medal skating to an Elton John medley. Then the singer congratulated him, Sports Illustrated reports.

  • The Beijing Olympics were the final Games for the Californian snowboarder Shaun White.

  • School mask requirements: Despite other Covid restrictions easing, California schoolchildren will be required to wear masks for at least another two weeks.

  • Megadrought: Northern Mexico and the Western United States, including California, are experiencing their driest period in 1,200 years, according to a new study.

  • Panda diplomacy: A bill in Congress is looking to rethink the longstanding arrangement that has China loan giant pandas to American zoos.



  • Covid death count: Covid-19 deaths in Fresno County reached their highest point in the past 10 months, The Fresno Bee reports.


  • U.C. Berkeley: A recent court order may force U.C. Berkeley to slash 3,050 undergraduate seats and forgo $57 million in tuition, Berkeleyside reports.

  • Bitcoin battle: A wealthy San Francisco couple’s divorce dragged on for eight years. Their most consequential dispute was over millions of dollars in missing Bitcoin.

For $1.1 million in California.

Lavender and orange blossom cookies.

Today’s travel tip comes from Michael Harabin, who recommends Franklin Canyon Park near the center of Los Angeles:

“Talk about an oasis in the middle of a city. Franklin Canyon and trekking around the hillsides and reservoir is like finding water in the desert. When I first moved to Los Angeles from New York, I settled in San Fernando to be near my work. On a day off I went for a hike off of Coldwater and found myself walking along the shore of the fictitious Myers Lake from ‘The Andy Griffith Show.’ The Franklin Canyon reservoir has been the co-star of numerous TV shows and commercials.

I adored that show and the opening with Andy and Opie walking (barefoot) along the lakeshore, fishing poles (not rods) on their shoulders and the iconic theme song whistling along. It meant something to me. I grew up in a small town in rural New Jersey. I saw in the show’s characters people who I knew from my youth. I recognized the places that gave me comfort.

I went for a walk as an L.A. newbie and then, suddenly, there I was, in Mayberry. On the shores of Myers Lake. I was beside myself. That was 1988. It was the first moment that I felt L.A. was the right place for me. While I wasn’t there physically for my childhood, I was there with the shows I grew up with.

I still refer to the place as ‘My Beloved Franklin Canyon.’ I try to visit at least once a week for a quick hike and to walk along the shore of the reservoir.”

Tell us about your favorite places to visit in California. Email your suggestions to We’ll be sharing more in upcoming editions of the newsletter.

You may remember that late last year we shared engagement photos that a couple took at Berkeley Bowl, a beloved grocery store in the East Bay.

The market, known for its wide produce selection, is particularly popular among local college students. When I was attending U.C. Berkeley, I heard about a meet-cute in the citrus aisle.

Well, the recent engagement story prompted other couples to reveal that they too have held important photo shoots at Berkeley Bowl — and the results are just as charming. See them here.

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