These New Jersey athletes hope to go for gold at Winter Olympics
New Jersey may not have as long a list of competitors for the XXIV Winter Games in Beijing as it did for last year's COVID-delayed Summer Olympics, but the Garden State's imprint will be all over Team USA this February, literally, with a Clifton company making the Opening Ceremony parkas.
When the athletes actually take to the slopes and ice, there will still be several names and faces to watch with ties to New Jersey.
Team USA's website doesn't provide searches by birthplace or hometown, but here are a few Jersey people creating some buzz in the runup to the Games.
Hakeem Abdul-Saboor, bobsled
Abdul-Saboor, who was born in East Orange but now hails from Virginia, competed at the 2018 Games in PyeongChang, and is one of just four push athletes (non-pilots) with prior Olympic experience among 17 named to the 2022 U.S. bobsled team.
Also, a newcomer on the men's bobsled team, in a couple of ways, is Fair Haven native Charlie Volker. A 2015 Rumson-Fair Haven High School and 2019 Princeton University graduate, Volker starred in college in both football (No. 7 all-time at Princeton in rushing yards) and track, but according to his Team USA bio, picked up bobsled when COVID-19 shutdowns derailed his momentum in training to break into the NFL.
Rounding out the New Jersey bobsled connections is Ramapo High School graduate Lauren Brzozowski of Wyckoff. She represents Team USA in the Bobsled/Skeleton Development Program, which was created to find new talent as COVID curbed eligibility.
Kelly Curtis, skeleton
Born and raised in Princeton, Curtis was introduced to skeleton at Springfield College. According to her Team USA page, the 31-year-old completed basic Air Force training in 2020 and says she is the first civilian to be recruited for WCAP, the Air Force World Class Athlete Program, which is allowing her to enlist and continue full-time athletic training simultaneously.
Kimi Goetz, long track speedskating
Goetz, of Flemington, switched her primary speedskating discipline to long track in the summer of 2018. Her best showings on the global stage to date were 5th-place finishes in both the 500- and 1000-meter World Championships in 2020.
Kenny Agostino, ice hockey
New Jersey Devils fans may have been disappointed when the NHL decided not to take its traditional Olympic break in 2022 and let its active players travel to Beijing, due to COVID. But a former Devil and New Jersey native will be representing the USA. Morristown-born forward Kenny Agostino has racked up 86 games of NHL experience since 2013, including a 27-game stint with his home-state team at the end of the 2018-2019 season.
Jack Wallace, sled hockey
Wallace holds the distinction of already having brought Olympic gold back to New Jersey, having been part of the 2018 Paralympic-winning sled hockey team in PyeongChang. The 23-year-old, who lost his right leg in a boating accident in 2008, is Jersey through and through: born in Ridgewood, raised in Franklin Lakes, attending The College of New Jersey, and playing on the NJ Freeze club team when not with Team USA.
There is one more New Jersey athlete of note, but who won't be competing for the U.S. Pairs figure skater Hailey Kops, of West Orange, will represent Team Israel at the Games in Beijing.
If you know of any other Olympic athletes with New Jersey connections, contact Patrick Lavery, New Jersey 101.5 afternoon news anchor, on Twitter @plavery1015 or at firstname.lastname@example.org.