A skier from Gresham is set to make his Olympic debut next month as he travels to Beijing, China, as a member of Team USA.
Luke Winters clinched a spot on the U.S. Alpine Ski Team for the 2022 Beijing Olympics. The 24-year-old earned a berth as the top U.S. male slalom skier, and is ranked 24th in the world. He most recently placed 10th in a World Cup slalom in Adelboden, Switzerland, marking the best finish for a U.S. man in nearly six years.
Slalom skiing has competitors navigate between poles or gates with quick, short turns, as they make their way toward the finish line.
Winters was selected for the final team out of 43 athletes who made up the alpine squad this year. Two-time Olympic champion and six-time world champion Mikaela Shiffrin leads the deep group to China where they will take on the world's best.
"We are inspired by this group of nominated athletes that not only endured, but excelled in one of the most difficult seasons in memory," U.S. Alpine Director Jesse Hunt said.
Winters grew up in East Multnomah County with a twin brother, who also loves to ski, and two sisters.
"(My brother and I) both loved the speed and competitiveness at a young age and never stopped," Winters said.
Not content to just fly down the slopes, Winters also learned to take to the skies after earning his pilot's license through Pilot Makers in Provo, Utah. His ultimate goal, after skiing competitively, is to someday go into the construction, engineering or real estate field.
Winters is no stranger to the spotlight. He nabbed his first national championship title in 2019 by landing at the top of the podium in alpine combined at Sugarloaf, Maine, and then followed that up with a second national title in slalom at Waterville Valley, New Hampshire.
He has also competed on the global stage. Winters won a bronze medal in 2018 in the Super-G, finished ninth in the downhill and 22nd in the alpine combined at the Junior World Championships in Switzerland. That same year he made his World Cup debut in the slalom in Finland.
Winters attended West Orient Middle School and spent two years at Barlow High before leaving for the Sugar Bowl Ski Academy in California. He also competed for the Mt. Hood Race Team and Academy.
"I've been fortunate to be at these top academies, ski racing all year around," Winters told The Outlook.
The 2022 Beijing Olympics' opening ceremony will take place Friday, Feb. 4, and the games will end Sunday, Feb. 20. The best way to watch the 109 events is by tuning into NBC for primetime coverage, or by watching events via the streaming service Peacock, both live and on demand.
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