OyChicago: Jewish Olympians hoping to bring home more than a chai necklace

Jewish Olympians photo

I have had some fans write in asking about Jewish representation at the 2010 Winter Olympics. We know that Tamar Katz isn’t going to be there, but who is? To my knowledge there are five participants in this year’s Olympic Games.

Israel is sending three participants and I am hopeful that they can bring home at least one medal. Two of them are brother and sister pair, Alexandra and Roman Zaretsky. They are entered in the couples’ ice dance competition later this week. Roman started skating in Minsk while his sister, Alexandra, did not begin until their family immigrated to Israel. They train at the Metulla ice rink near the Lebanese border, which is the same rink Tamar Katz trained on (it is the only real ice rink in Israel). They both moved to Israel in 1990. They competed in 2006 placing 22nd. But they finished 9th at the 2008 World Championships and 1st in the 2009 World University Games. Their chances are pretty good for receiving a medal this time around.

The third member of the Israeli delegation is skier, Mikail Renzhin. He participated in the 2006 Winter Games but did not win a medal. He finished 32nd in the giant slalom and 37th in the slalom. Renzhin will once again compete in both events. Renzhin was born in Latvia but moved to Israel at the age of 22. He spent his first years in Israel learning Hebrew and did a short stint in the Israeli army. Immediately after immigrating, he contacted the Israeli Ski Federation and was able to continue as a competitive skier. Renzhin now trains in the USA.

I have been able to track down two other Jewish participants: Laura Spector and Ben Agosto. Laura Spector represented the USA as part of the biathlon team. The biathlon is a combination of cross country skiing and rifle shooting. At 22, she is the youngest member of the biathlon team, and at only five feet tall, she is also the smallest member of the US Olympic team. She is currently a student at Dartmouth majoring in genetics and Jewish studies.

Finally, there is Ben Agosto who won a silver medal in the 2006 Olympics as a part an ice-dancing pair. Agosto almost missed the 2006 Olympics because his partner, the Canadian-born skater Tanith Belbin, had yet to finalize her American citizenship. Agosto is ready to compete again this year, which he says should be his last Olympics.

Know of any other Jewish Olympians? Let me know by commenting below.

For more Jewish articles on the Olympics visit www.TheGreatRabbino.com.
And Let Us Say…Amen.

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