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Westminster’s Olympians travel to Beijing for the first Winter Games since COVID-19 pandemic began

Tit Stante, a senior environmental studies major, competes in the snowboard halfpipe event for Team Slovenia. “The jet lag hasn’t been too bad, but it took some time getting used to the cold and windy weather up here,” Stante Said. Photo courtesy of Office of Marketing and Communication and Tit Stante. Image description: A man is upside down in the air mid snowboard flip.

In the 2022 Winter Olympic games, five Westminster College students, three alumni and 11 former students represent the United States, the Philippines, Ireland and Slovenia. The Olympians traveled to Beijing, China to compete in their respective sports throughout the games.

The whole process is time travel, according to Devin Logan, a senior communication major, competing in the freestyle ski halfpipe event. 

“I think the flight from LA to Tokyo is around 12 or 13 hours and then it’s another four hours to Beijing,” Logan said in a Zoom interview. 

The Olympians are required to take various rapid and polymerase chain reaction (PCR) COVID-19 tests throughout their stay in Beijing, according to Logan.

“We’re testing every day, sometimes two times a day, because you never know,” Logan said. “I’d rather it be like this than, you know, one person gets [the virus] and the whole team is down.” 

Tit Stante, a senior environmental studies major representing Team Slovenia in the Snowboard Halfpipe event, said he had a different experience traveling with Team Slovenia.

“I traveled to Beijing on a direct flight from Milan with a part of our team,” Stante said in a text message. “The jet lag hasn’t been too bad, but it took some time getting used to the cold and windy weather up here.”

Stante said the last couple of weeks leading up to the Olympics were stressful because there were a lot of worries regarding catching COVID-19 before departing. 

Asa Miller, a sophomore business major representing Team Philippines and competing in the giant slalom and the slalom, said in an email, “I wasn’t very nervous [about traveling to Beijing] this time around, but man, other athletes were stressed about contracting COVID right before the games!”

Miller said he carried the flag for Team Philippines in the opening ceremony of the games. The experience took up most of his thoughts, instead of worrying about COVID, according to Miller.

Asa Miller, a sophomore business major, represents Team Philippines in the Giant Slalom and Slalom events. “I wasn’t very nervous [about traveling to Beijing] this time around, but man, other athletes were stressed about contracting COVID right before the games,” Miller said. Photo Courtesy of Office of Marketing and Communication and Asa Miller. Image description: Asa Miller skiis down a snowy hill in red white and blue gear.

The Olympians expect to face additional challenges in the first Winter Olympics since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, according to Devin Logan, a senior communication major competing in the freestyle ski halfpipe event.

“One of the hardest changes about the games this year with the pandemic is the lack of socializing with other athletes,” said Miller, who competed in the 2018 Pyeongchang Winter Olympic Games. “Previously, the dining hall was a great place to meet people representing other countries and who participate in different sports, but this year everyone has their own little cubicle to eat in so it limits opportunities to meet others.”

Miller said he flew to Beijing with his father, who acts as his assistant coach in the games.

Logan is having a more difficult time coping with the idea of competing in Beijing away from her family and friends. 

“I think that’s gonna be the biggest and most upsetting part of it,” Logan said. “Especially going through two Olympics already and having my mom at the bottom to give me a hug—it’s gonna be hard.” 

Logan said she is expecting a different experience but knows there will be alternative ways to celebrate. Park City is hosting watch parties for families so that they are able to watch the athletes compete and cheer them on virtually, according to Logan.

“I have some teammates that are already over [in Beijing] now and have attended some events, and it’s pretty empty,” Logan said. “So it’s gonna be very strange to be done with your run and you’re so excited and wanting to celebrate and not hearing the roar of the crowds and have that excitement.”

Logan said she spoke with Olympians in the past who say each Olympics is a different experience. She said they have given her advice to try to go into the games without any expectations and live in the moment. 

“That’s what I’m gonna do,” Logan said. “Just hour by hour and step by step.”

A full schedule of events that Westminster students are competing in has been posted to the Westminster College events page.

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KC Carter (she/her) is a senior at Westminster College studying communication. She has a passion for art and design and doesn’t do anything without adding a pop of bright color. She jumps on any opportunity to go to a concert and loves to spend time with her pandemic puppy, Sunny.

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