It is the official opinion of the Menschwarmers podcast that if Jews did control the weather, there wouldn’t be a Winter Olympics.
Compared to the balmy climes of the Summer Olympics, there is relatively little Jewish representation at the quadrennial winter games. What can we say? We are, at our core, a desert people.
However, that doesn’t stop us at the world’s leading podcast about Jews and sports from identifying and informing you of Jews to root for during this global event, taking place (controversially) in Beijing from Feb. 4 to 20.
Here is a non-comprehensive list of folks to watch over the next few weeks as they attempt to become the next Linoy Ashram or Mark Spitz, bringing nachas to Jews around the world through Olympic achievement.
A troika of Canadian hockey players
Canada’s men’s hockey team did us a real mitzvah this month and named three Jewish (or at least Jew-ish) players to their roster.
Joshua Ho-Sang is a Torontonian in the Maple Leafs organization. Born to a Jamaican-Chinese father and a Chilean-Jewish mother, he was scouted young as a great Jewish hope for hockey fans. As one of Team Canada’s skill players this tournament, he’ll be expected to carry some scoring load for the team.
Devon Levi is a 20-year-old Montrealer and Beth Tikvah day school graduate who is currently Buffalo’s best goalie prospect. The international experience in Beijing will surely help him handle the pressure of the NHL once he gets there. Levi also backstopped Canada to a silver medal in the 2021 World Junior Ice Hockey Championships, where he was named the tournament’s top goalie, despite playing with a broken rib he suffered in an early game against Germany.
Jason Demers, as a 13-year NHL pro, will be looked on to provide veteran leadership and defensive stability to Team Canada. Currently plying his trade in balmy Kazan, Russia, Demers discovered Jewish ancestry on his father’s side while in his 20s, though he doesn’t personally identify as a member of the tribe. That said, his long-term partner, Jillian Mueller, played Baby in Dirty Dancing on Broadway, and that’s pretty Jewish to us.
A draftmate of our friend Mr. Demers above, Warsofsky will be filling a similar veteran defensive role for the United States’ men’s hockey team at the games. While raised more Catholic than Jewish, Warsofsky doesn’t shy away from the Jewish side of his family—and if you want more of his bio, you can catch a feature interview he gave to us on the Menschwarmers podcast airing next week.
One of the most decorated American male figure skaters ever, Jason Brown will be returning to his third Olympics hoping to recapture a medal—his first since Sochi in 2014. This would add to his five world championship and two grand prix medals, and make him even more of a darling in our hearts. As a proud representative of his culture, he’s skated to the tunes of Michael Nyman, Paul Simon and Yitzhak Perlman. This time, he’ll be doing a free skate routine to the soundtrack of Schindler’s List.
A 2017 bronze medal winner in the superpipe, the 28-year-old Coloradan is aiming to emulate the success of his younger sister, Arielle, when she won a bronze medal at the 2018 Olympics in Pyeongchang. The (hopefully) aptly named Gold is looking for some redemption after his Olympic halfpipe run in Sochi came to an end in the semifinals.
Hailey Kops and Evgeni Krasnopolski
Probably the most observant athlete at the games, Kops is an Orthodox New Yorker who’s competed for Israel since moving there to study Torah when she turned 18. She’s paired with Israeli skating legend Evgeni Krasnopolski, a Ukranian-Jewish veteran of the Israeli team. He’s at his third games, after being half of the first Israeli skating pair to make the Olympics in 2014.
Another Israeli figure skater, Bychenko immigrated to Israel from Ukraine and is now attending his third Olympics. Coming off of an 11th-place finish in 2018, Bychenko has returned to a program set to the music of Pirates of the Caribbean, written by Jewish composer Hans Zimmer.
Finally, we would be remiss to not give an honourable mention to the entire Swiss hockey team, comprising numerous Mike Jacobs All Stars—our podcast’s award for non-Jews with extremely Jewish-sounding names. The Swiss lads feature such radar-pinging names as Denis Hollenstein, Greg Hoffmann, Simon Moser and Romain Loeffel, the latter of which is, for all we know, actually a kosher sandwich.
Enjoy the games, sports fans.