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NEW JERSEY — The 2022 Beijing Winter Olympics begin Feb. 4 and they will last through Feb. 20.
There are 11 Olympians competing this winter who have strong New Jersey roots, from speed skater Kimi Goetz, who trained for years in Hunterdon County, to Princeton University grad Charlie Volk, who grew up in Fair Haven, and Rider graduate, who grew up in Wayne.
Meet the athletes:
Kimi Goetz, Flemington: Goetz, 27, is probably the most recognized Garden State native to participate in the 2022 Winter Olympics, as New Jersey has watched her compete on the international stage for years now. She's competed in many national and world championships for speedskating, but this is actually her first Olympics. She was supposed to be in the 2018 Winter Games, but a concussion prevented her from competing.
Kelly Curtis, Princeton: Skeleton is like the luge, except instead of going feet first, racers slide head first down a track of pure ice, at speeds of more than 90 miles per hour. Unlike bobsled, it is a solo event. Curtis, 33, grew up in Princeton (she actually wrestled in second and third grades) and attended Princeton High School and the Lawrenceville School. She went on to Springfield College in Massachusetts, where she was first introduced to the sport of bobsled. From there, she narrowed her focus to skeleton. While she continued to train in skeleton, Curtis joined the U.S. Air Force in 2021. She's part of the Air Force World Class Athlete Program (WCAP), which allows elite American athletes to continue training full time in their sport while also being enlisted.
After the Olympics, Curtis plans to move with her husband to Utah; she plans to work at an Air Force base near Park City and continue to train in the skeleton. Her father, John Curtis, used to play for the NFL and is also the athletic director at Princeton High School, according to NJ.com.
Sarah Escobar, Sparta: Escobar, 19, grew up in Sparta and attended Sparta High School. She since moved to Vermont, where she is a member of the women's alpine ski team at Saint Michael’s College. She competed in the 2020 Winter Youth Olympic Games in Lausanne, Switzerland, but this is her first Olympics. She holds dual U.S.-Ecuadorian citizenship.
Meghan Tierney, Rumson/Little Silver: Tierney, 25, will compete for Team USA in snowboarding. Tierney now lives in Colorado but she grew up in Rumson and Little Silver. Like so many elite skiers and snowboarders, she moved out West at a young age to train, and got her high school degree online. This is not her first Olympics; she competed in 2018 in Pyeongchang in snowboardcross, where she finished 17th in the world.
You've heard of the Jamaican bobsledding team, but how about Rumson, East Orange and Rider University bobsledders?
Jazmine Fenlator-Victorian, Wayne: Fenlator, 36, grew up in Wayne and graduated from Wayne Valley High School. She ran track at Rider University, where her coach encouraged her to try a bobsled camp after she graduated. The rest was history: Fenlator was so skilled at the sport that she went on to win several world cups and then competed in the 2014 Sochi, Russia Olympics on the Team U.S. bobsled team. She then competed for Jamaica in bobsledding in the 2018 Olympics. She currently trains in Lake Placid, New York (along with fellow Garden State native Charlie Volker) and has competed in many U.S., Europe and world bobsled championships. Look for her on the pilot, as she pilots the bobsled.
Charlie Volker, Fair Haven: It's the first Olympics for this 24-year-old who grew up in Fair Haven. Incredibly, Volker only picked up bobsled 18 months ago: Volker was a football and track star for Rumson-Fair Haven High School, which he graduated from in 2015. He went on to play football and run track for Princeton University, where he was ranked No. 7 of all-time in rushing yards. After graduating in 2019, he actually planned to try out for the NFL. He was training at a football camp in North Jersey when COVID abruptly shut down all training camps in the spring of 2020.
One of Volker's training coaches, and a former bobsledder himself, suggested he might want to look into bobsledding, particularly because he had the pushing strength and speed needed to push the sled on ice. Volker's online stats in the 40-yard dash and broad jump qualified him for the USA Bobsled/Skeleton Team and in December 2020, he successfully earned a spot on the U.S. National Team — less than 18 months after he picked up the sport. Volker has been training in Lake Placid, New York ever since.
Look for Volker in both the two-man and the four-man bobsled races. He has the position of "brakeman," meaning you will find him in the very back of the sleds; he is responsible for the all-important job of pulling the brakes at the end of the race to stop the sled.
Hakeem Abdul-Saboor, East Orange: Born in East Orange, but actually raised in Virginia and graduated from the University of Virginia at Wise. He is 34. This will not be his first Olympics. He competed in the 2018 Olympics in PyeongChang, where he came in 19th and 21st in four-man and two-man bobsledding.
Lauren Brzozowski, Wyckoff: She's on what's known as the "Development" teams for bobsled/skeleton, which were created by the U.S. Olympic Committee to develop talent.
Kenny Agostino, Morristown: Born in Morristown, Agostino, 29, used to play for the New Jersey Devils, Toronto Maple Leafs and Boston Bruins, among other NFL teams. He also graduated from Yale University, where he also played ice hockey.
Jack Wallace, Franklin Lakes: Wallace will represent Team USA in the 2022 Winter Paralympic games. Wallace grew up in New Jersey and graduated from the College of New Jersey in 2018 with a degree in biomedical engineering.
When he was 10 years old, Wallace lost part of his right leg in a boating accident. However, just one year he was introduced to sled hockey while attending Camp No Limits in Maine in 2009. He went on to join a local New Jersey team and was good enough that he advanced to national teams. This is not his first Olympics; he won gold in sled hockey in the PyeongChang 2018 Winter Paralympic games. When not training in sled hockey, he also skies, golfs and continues boating.
Wallace said he wants to show children with disabilities that "sports are not off the table for them."
Hailey Kops, West Orange: Although she lived in West Orange as a child, Kops, 19, moved to Israel and will compete for Team Israel as a pairs figure skater. She is Orthodox Jewish and said she wanted to compete for Israel as that is her homeland and she studied at a yeshiva in Jerusalem.
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