2018 Winter Olympics – Michigan Born and Raised Athletes

2018 Winter Olympics – Michigan Born and Raised Athletes

Michigan will be well represented at the 2018 Winter Olympics in South Korea. A total of 11 athletes are listed by Team USA as Michigan representatives. These 11 will try and bring home medals to add to the list of medals won by Michigan athletes. In the 2014 Winter Olympics, Meryl Davis and Charlie White were the only Michigan medalists, winning gold in ice dancing. The 2010 Winter Olympics saw four medals won for Michigan from ice hockey and ice dancing.

Aside from the 2018 Winter Olympics athletes born and residing in Michigan, there are numerous athletes who attended school in the Mitten state or played for a professional team here.

Grand Rapids Griffins Hockey 2016-17

One of the most represented teams in Michigan is the Grand Rapids Griffins. The Griffins, the AHL affiliate of the Detroit Red Wings, will send eight former players to the 2018 Winter Olympics in South Korea. Six of the twelve ice hockey teams will feature a former member of the Griffins and 14 of the 18 preliminary games will feature at least one Griffin player. Seeing former players compete in the Winter Olympics isn’t uncommon for the Griffins. The team saw 11 former players compete in the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi, where several won silver medals.

If you’re looking for fun Olympic related events, look no further than Grand Rapids “World of Winter” events being held over the next several weeks. The event kicks off on February 9th with a free Olympic Opening Ceremony Watch Party. This first day event, sponsored by Woodtv8 and the Grand Rapids Art Museum, will also feature ice carving, food trucks, and ice skating. Later events in the week include an ice bar at the Downtown Market and a Human Hungry Hungry Hippos game. Check out ExperienceGR for more information.

  From Michigan:  

Evan Bates (Figure Skating) Ann Arbor – Bates is one of several Michigan born athletes competing in Figure Skating at the 2018 Winter Olympics. This marks the third Winter Olympics for Bates, who will hope to improve on his 8th place finish at the 2014 Winter Olympics. Bates is a 2007 graduate of Huron High School and a 2013 graduate of the University of Michigan.

Nick Baumgartner (Snowboarding) Iron River – Nick Baumgartner returns to the Winter Olympics, representing Upper Peninsula town Iron River. Baumgartner attended West Iron County High School, where he was a champion in football, wrestling, and track. Baumgartner was an All-American in wrestling, winning the state championship in 2000. Baumgartner was also All-State in Football and Track & Field as a hurdler. Baumgartner competes in the Snowboard Cross, where he has had success over the years. He won a Gold Medal at the 2001 X Games and a Silver Medal at the 2012 X Games. Baumgartner also competed in the 2010 and 2014 Winter Olympics. Baumgartner won Bronze at the World Championships in 2009 and 2015. Local shirt company Yoopershirts has partnered with Baumgartner to create a “Dream Big” shirt (Royal Blue) that features Nick on it. The shirts are for sale online and at the company’s store in Marquette. A portion of the proceeds go directly to Baumgartner to help support his Olympic career.

Chad Billins (Ice Hockey) Marysville – Billins played for Ferris State University for four seasons. Billins recorded 67 points in 152 games with Ferris State, including 29 points his senior season. Billins was also a member of the 2012-2013 Grand Rapids Griffins, where he recorded 37 points in 76 games and was a member of the Calder Cup winning team. Billins played in 10 NHL games in his career before moving overseas to continue his hockey career.

Megan Keller (Ice Hockey) Farmington – The 2018 Winter Olympics marks the first for Keller, a graduate of North Farmington High School. Keller was a member of gold medal winning teams at the World Championships in 2015, 2016, and 2017. Keller led the NCAA in points by a defensemen with 39 during the 2016-2017 season, while playing for Boston College.

Jessica Kooreman (Short Track Speedskating) Melvindale – By finishing third for the U.S. in qualifying, Kooreman ensured a spot to go back to the Winter Olympics. Kooreman will hope to build on the success she saw in 2014. At the 2014 Winter Olympics, Kooreman finished 4th in the 1000 meter and 6th in the 1500 meter.

Kyle Mack (Snowboarding) West Bloomfield – Mack, who started snowboarding at the age of 3, will compete in his first Olympics, as a member of Team USA. Mack won a bronze medal at the 2015 World Championships.

Ryan Pivirotto (Short Track Speedskating) Ann Arbor – Pivirotto secured a spot on Team USA by finishing fifth in qualifying. Pivirotto will look to make a big splash at the 2018 Winter Olympics.

Alex Shibutani (Figure Skating) Ann Arbor

Maia Shibutani (Figure Skating) Ann Arbor – Alex and Maia are the brother sister duo that will compete for Team USA in figure skating. The duo placed 9th at the 2014 Winter Olympics. The Shibutanis took a bronze medal at the 2017 World Championships and also a silver medal in 2016. The duo has won a medal at the US Championships for 13 straight years.

Jim Slater (Ice Hockey) Lapeer – Jim Slater competed for the Michigan State Spartans for four seasons before playing in the NHL. As a Spartan, Slater put together three consecutive 40 point seasons, scoring 48 points in both his junior and senior years. Slater played 584 NHL games for the Atlanta Thrashers and Winnipeg Jets. Slater has spent the last years playing in the Swiss-A.

James Wisniewski (Ice Hockey) Canton – Wisniewski was a member of the Plymouth Whalers from 2000-2001 to 2003-2004. During his four year, Wisniewski recorded 187 points in 217 games. Wisniewski went on to a successful career in the NHL, playing for the Chicago Blackhawks, Anaheim Ducks, New York Islanders, and Montreal Canadiens. In 552 NHL games, Wisniewski scored 274 points.


Michigan Connections


Dick Axelsson (Ice Hockey) Sweden – Played 17 games for the Grand Rapids Griffins in the 2009-2010 season.

Michal Birner (Ice Hockey) Czech Republic – Birner played two seasons with the Saginaw Spirit, scoring 113 points in 91 games.

Chris Chelios (Ice Hockey) USA – Chelios, an assistant coach at the 2018 Winter Olympics, played two games for the Grand Rapids Griffins in the 2008-2009 season. Chelios played for the Detroit Red Wings for 10 seasons, competing in 578 games. Chelios scored 152 points during his time with Detroit and was a member of two Stanley Cup winning teams (2002, 2008).

Pavel Datsyuk (Ice Hockey) Olympic Athletes of Russia – One of the all-time best Detroit Red Wings will return to the Olympics, representing Russia. Datsyuk ranks in the top ten for games played, goals, assists, and points, as a member of the Detroit Red Wings. Datsyuk recorded 314 goals, 604 assists, and 918 points in 953 games as a member of the Red Wings. Datsyuk left the NHL to return home and now played for St. Petersburg SKA. Datsyuk has 35 points in 37 games during the current season.

Superior Dome NMU Marquette

Shani Davis (Speedskating) USA – The name Shani Davis should be easily recognizable to anyone who has watched the past few Winter Olympics. Davis broke barriers for African-Americans in speedskating and is one of the top performers in the sport for the US in recent history. Prior to becoming an Olympic champion, Davis moved from Chicago to Marquette Michigan (1999) to begin his training and also attend Marquette High School. While at Marquette High School, Davis also competed in track & field, and was a top performer in several events. At the 2010 MHSAA Upper Peninsula State Track & Field Finals, Davis placed 3rd in the 1600, 2nd in the 800, and 1st in the 1600 meter relay. Davis is the record holder in the 1000 meter speedskating event. Davis won gold medals in 2006 and 2010.

Andrew Ebbett (Ice Hockey) Canada – Andrew Ebbett played in more than 200 NHL games in his history. Prior to his NHL days, Ebbett was a prolific scorer at the University of Michigan. Ebbett recorded 143 points in 167 games over four seasons at U of M.

Rosie Frankowski (Cross-country Skiing) USA – Frankowski was one of 20 chosen by the US team and is the 12th Northern Michigan University skier to go to an Olympic games. Frankowski attended Northern Michigan University 2009 to 2014. While there, she was a two time All-American and the runner-up in 2014.

Michal Jordan (Ice Hockey) Czech Republic – Jordan was a member of the Plymouth Whalers from 2007 to 2010. In 118 games for the Whalers, Jordan recorded 96 points. Jordan was drafted by the Carolina Hurricanes in the fourth round of the 2008 draft. Jordan spent time in the AHL for six seasons and played 79 games with the Hurricanes, recording six points. Jordan now plays in the KHL.

Chris Kelly (Ice Hockey) Canada – Kelly played 31 games for the Grand Rapids Griffins during the 2001-2002 season.

Chad Kolarik (Ice Hockey) USA – Kolarik played for the University of Michigan. During his time as a Wolverine, Kolarik recorded 174 points in 163 games. During the 2007-2008 season, Kolarik had 30 goals and 56 points in 39 games. Kolarik only played in six NHL games, but has found success overseas. Kolarik is currently playing for the Mannheim Eagles in Germany, where he leads the team with 44 points in 44 games played.

Alexey Marchenko (Ice Hockey) Olympic Athletes of Russia – Marchenko played for the Grand Rapids Griffins for the seasons between 2013 and 2016. Marchenko played in 104 games for the Griffins.

Sam McGuffie (Bobsled) USA – Sam McGuffie is a former University of Michigan fullback that has now transitioned to the sport of bobsled. McGuffie will compete in the two man and four man bobsled events. McGuffie played in 10 games for U of M during the 2008 season, before transferring to Rice University.

Jan Mursak (Ice Hockey) Slovenia – Mursak has multiple Michigan connections. Mursak was a member of the Grand Rapids Griffins for six seasons, recording 103 points in 213 games. Mursak also spent portions of two seasons with the Saginaw Spirit, recording 106 points in 88 games.

Jim Paek (Ice Hockey) Korea – Jim Paek is the Director of Hockey for the Korea Ice Hockey Association. Prior to accepting this position, Paek served as an assistant coach with the Grand Rapids Griffins. Paek was the longest tenured coach in franchise history, helping coach the team for nine seasons. Prior to his coaching days, Paek was a NHL player. Paek won two Stanley Cups with the Pittsburgh Penguins.

Brock Radunske (Ice Hockey) Korea – Radunske is another athlete with multiple Michigan connections. Radunske played three seasons with the Michigan State hockey team. Several years later, Radunske played 20 games with the Grand Rapids Griffins in the 2006-2007 season.

Ivan Telegrin (Ice Hockey) Olympic Athletes of Russia – Telegrin competed for the Saginaw Spirit for portions of three seasons. Telegrin had 169 points in 156 games played for the Spirit. The former 2010 fourth round NHL draft pick never played a NHL game, but has enjoyed success in the KHL the last four seasons playing for CSKA Moscow.

Chris Vosters (Broadcasting) – He may not be eligible to win a medal, but Midland native Chris Vosters will be a big part of figure skating at the 2018 Winter Olympics. Vosters will do television commentary for the sport and the Olympic Channel. Voster’s website lists the dates of 2/8, 2/10, 2/11, 2/13, and 2/14 as dates where he will be broadcasting. In Michigan, Vosters is best known as the voice of the Great Lakes Loons minor league baseball team, doing the play-by-play.

Ryan Zapolski (Ice Hockey) USA – The inclusion of Zapolski is a bit of a stretch here, but he does have a Michigan connection. The USA goaltender played in one game with the Kalamazoo Wings back in the 2011-2012 season, winning his only appearance.


Along with all the athletes mentioned, there are several referees and officials with Michigan ties. The snow on the alpine ski course for several events is being made with the help of Michigan’s own SMI Snow Makers (Midland), who has now made snow for seven different Winter Olympics.

Think we missed someone connected to Michigan competing in the 2018 Winter Olympics? Let us know in the comments or email us at travelthemitten @ gmail . com