Seven Cornellians will join the athletes and coaches competing at the 2022 Winter Olympics in Beijing, beginning Wednesday night. The group includes a coach and six athletes, who will compete in two sports and represent three different countries. They will work to increase Cornell’s total of 63 Olympic medals, including 18 at the winter games.
The seven Cornellians will join the ranks of 115 Cornell alums who have competed at the Olympics, including five who competed at last summer’s games in Tokyo.
Six of the seven will compete in women’s ice hockey, including Cornell women’s ice hockey’s current head coach, Doug Derraugh ’91, who will be an assistant coach for Team Canada. Derraugh will reunite with four of his former skaters, who will also represent Canada: Micah Zandee Hart ’20, Brianne Jenner ’15, Jillian Saulnier ’15 and Rebecca Johnston ’12. The lone non-Canadian is Lenka Serdar ’19, who will skate for the Czech Republic.
The six women’s hockey alums will be joined in Beijing by one current student, Karen Chen ’23, who will represent Team USA in figure skating.
Here’s a look at each of the Cornellians:
Karen Chen ’23 – Women’s Figure Skating (USA)
Chen will compete at her second Olympics after coming in second place at the U.S. Figure Skating Championships in January.
A human development major, Chen is taking a leave of absence this semester to focus on skating, but she plans to return to Cornell next year. She stated that she found it difficult to practice in Ithaca with rinks closed during the pandemic, so she decided to move to Colorado to train with her coach. Chen said she thought about leaving the sport after the 2018 Olympics.
Before taking time off from Cornell, Chen was a member of the Cornell Figure Skating Club and performed during the intermission of a men’s hockey game at Lynah Rink during her freshman year. The Sun profiled Chen last year.
Doug Derraugh ’91 – Women’s Ice Hockey assistant coach (Canada)
Derraugh played in 119 games for Cornell men’s hockey, scoring 30 goals during his senior season. He took the helm of Cornell’s women’s hockey program in 2005, and he won his 300th game as head coach earlier this season. Derraugh has been named ECAC Coach of the Year five times and was named the USCHO.com Division I National Coach of the Year in 2020.
Derraugh has led Cornell to four Frozen Four appearances and four ECAC Championships. His team was the #1 seed in the 2020 tournament before it was canceled due to the pandemic.
Derraugh’s participation in the Olympics will force him to miss the final games of the Red’s schedule.
“He’s really busy in China, but he’s always checking in,” said women’s hockey Assistant Head Coach Edith Racine, who is filling in for Derraugh during his absence. “Sometimes it’s just a quick text, but he always wants to know about the team.”
Micah Zandee Hart ’20 – Women’s Ice Hockey (Canada)
Zandee Hart will compete in her first Olympics after narrowly missing the team in 2018. She served as a captain for Cornell during her senior year, posting 87 points during her four year career as a defenseman for the Red.
Zandee Hart was a central player on the 2019-2020 No. 1 ranked squad, but the pandemic thwarted their chances of winning a national championship. Competing for an Olympic medal might offer some redemption.
“I think it’s something that makes her want it even more,” Racine said. “She’s going to enjoy the moment. She’s going to take everything in. Knowing her, she’s not going to take it for granted.”
Lenka Serdar ’19 – Women’s Ice Hockey (Canada)
Serdar will compete in her first Olympics after helping the Czech Republic qualify for the games last year.
Serdar played in 134 games for the Red, notching 21 goals and 42 assists during her four year career. Both Serdar and Zandee Hart were teammates of current women’s hockey captain Lindsay Browning.
“I’m so excited, I can’t wait,” Browning said about watching her former teammates in the Olympics. “I’m sure a ton of us will be watching and cheering them on.”
Brianne Jenner ’15 – Women’s Ice Hockey (Canada)
Beijing will be Jenner’s third Olympics after she won a gold medal in 2014 and a silver medal in 2018 with Team Canada. She was the last cut from the 2010 team.
Jenner had a record setting career at Cornell. She was twice named ECAC Player of the Year, and she tallied 93 goals and 136 assists (the most all-time) with the Red.
The Sun featured a conversation with Jenner back in 2012.
Jillian Saulnier ’15 – Women’s Ice Hockey (Canada)
After winning a silver medal in 2018, Saulnier will rejoin Team Canada for her second Olympics this year.
Saulnier was named Ivy League Rookie of the Year in 2012 and was a 1st Team All-American in 2014. She compiled 80 goals and 114 assists during four years at Cornell.
The Sun added Jenner and Saulnier to its list of the top Cornell athletes of the 2010s.
Rebecca Johnston ’12 – Women’s Ice Hockey (Canada)
With three medals already under her belt, Johnston will compete in her fourth Olympics in Beijing.
Johnston has been a mainstay with Team Canada for over a decade. She took the 2009-2010 season off from Cornell to compete in the Vancouver Olympics, where she won her first gold medal.
Johnston put up 97 goals and 91 assists during four seasons with the Red.
Racine has coached all five of the women’s ice hockey athletes during her time at Cornell.
“They deserve it,” Racine said. “The work that they put in everyday when they were at Cornell, now seeing that they’re at the Olympics and knowing that was their dream, it’s something special.”
The women’s ice hockey tournament starts on Feb. 2 at 11:10 p.m. Eastern time. Team Canada is in group A and will start its quest for the gold medal against Switzerland. The Czech Republic is in group B. Its first match will be Feb. 2 at 11:10 p.m. against China. Both teams will hope to make it out of the group stage and to the quarterfinals, which begin Feb. 11.
Competition begins on Feb. 6 for women’s figure skating.