24 Great International Names from the Winter Olympics

February 15, 2018 Linda Rosenkrantz

By Linda Rosenkrantz

One perk of following international events for name nerds is the exposure to a whole new world of interesting multi-cultural names, and the current Winter Olympics is no exceptions. Though many of the superstars have such familiar names as Chloe and Kelly and Jamie and Shaun and Sean, we’ve also spotted some outstanding European, Asian, Africa and even Anglo names that piqued our interest.


Aja Evans is an outstanding American bobsledder who first established herself at the 2014 competition in Sochi. Aja is a rhythmic Hindi name meaning goat, associated with the  1977 the Steely Dan song and album. It’s also another name for the Hindu god Shiva.


Carlijn Achtereekte is a Dutch speed skater who specializes in long distances and won a gold medal at the 2018 Games. Carlijn is a Dutch variant of Caroline, a short form of Carolijn.


Dajana Eitberger is a German luge athlete; her name is a Serbian and Croatian form of Diana.


Ebba Andersson is a Swedish cross-country skier who finished fourth in the 2018 skiathlon. Her appealing name is in the Swedish Top 5 and deserves more crossover love as a cousin of Emma, Etta and Ella.


Ireen Wüst is a Dutch long-track allround speed skater who set a record winning her 10th medal and fifth gold at Pyeongchang. This Dutch spelling of Irene, most popular there in the 1970s, makes an attractive variation.


Ivanie Blondin is a Canadian speed skater. Ivanie is an affectionate variation of Ivana.


Jorien ter Mors is another member of the Dutch speed skating team, Jorien is used for both girls and boys in Holland.


Kamil Stoch is a successful Polish ski jumper. Kamil is an Arabic name meaning perfect and is also the Polish and Czech version of Camillus. It recently ranked at #35 in Poland.


Kavita Lorenz is a competitive German ice dancer, a 3-time German national champ. Kavita means poem in Sanskrit.


Kikkan Randall is an American cross-country skier, niece of two former cross-country skiing Olympians. Kikkan is used as a diminutive of Kristina.


Liu Jiayu is a Chinese snowboarder whose specialty is the half-pipe. Liu means willow tree in Chinese.


18-year-old Maame Birney, who came to the US from Ghana at the age of 5, is a skater known for her remarkable speed. Maame is an African name, said to mean either pearl or mother.


Magnus Kim is a South Korean cross-country skier. Magnus is derived from the Latin meaning great. It was first used as a given name by King Olaf of Norway for his son. It currently ranks at #796 in the US, 64 on Nameberry and 16th in Norway.


Maren Lundby won 7 of 10 events this season, nailing a jump of 110 meters and, capturing Norway’s second gold medal of the games. Maren is a Danish variation of Maria or Marina, now popular in the Netherlands.


Marit Bjorgen is a Norwegian cross-country skier, the most successful sprinter in Cross-Country World Cup history, winning her 11th Olympic medal this year, the most for a female athlete in Winter Olympics history. Marit is a common Scandinavian version of Margaret, currently #122 in the Netherlands..


Maxence Parrot (great combo!) is a Canadian snowboarder, an Olympic silver medalist. A French form of Maximus, and a saint’s name, Maxence is currently popular in France, at #40.


Mirai Nagasu is an American figure skater, the first American female to land a triple axel at the Olympics and the third woman from any country to do so. Mirai means future in Japanese and has been popular there since the 80s.


Perrine Laffont is a French skier who won the gold medal this year in the Moguls event. Perrine goes back to the French Pierre, meaning a rock, and was popular in France in the 1990s. The Story of Perrine is an anime series.


Queralt Castellet is a Spanish snowboarder, silver medalist at the 2015 World Championships. Queralt comes from the name of a Spanish sanctuary in Catalonia devoted to the Virgin Mary. In Catalonia, it ranks at #52.


Redmond Gerard (shown), known as Red, is one of the stars of the current games, a gold medalist of the 2018 US snowboarding team, the first Winter Olympics medalist born in the 2000s, and first American gold medalist in the 2018 Winter Olympics. Redmond is a handsome Irish surname related to Raymond.


Sven Kramer is a Dutch long-track speed skater who became the first speed skater in history to win 4 consecutive world allround championships. The sleek Scandinavian Sven derives from a Norse root meaning strong youth. A royal name in Denmark, Norway and Sweden, Sven is #40 in the Netherlands.


Torin Yater-Wallace is a freestyle skater from the US. The wearable Torin means chief in Irish Gaelic.


Ulla Zime, from Latvia, is a women’s singles luge competitor. Pronounced oo-lah, Ulla derives from the Old Norse meaning determination. Ulla was the sexy receptionist in The Producers, played on screen by Uma Thurman.


Yara Van Kerkhof is the Dutch short-track speed skater who won the silver medal in the 500m event at Pyeongchang. Multicultural Yara is a Brazilian goddess and also means small butterfly in Arabic; Yara is now a Top 25 name in the Netherlands.


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