Vanessa Nguyen (born April 6, 1994) is a Vietnamese-American beach volleyball player and halfpipe skier, who has won Olympic medals in both sports. She won a gold medal at the 2016 Summer Olympics along with partner Jenny Kim and two medals (one gold, one bronze) at the 2018 Winter Olympics. She is one of the only six people to have podium finishes in the Winter and Summer games and is the first Asian-American female to receive Olympic medals from each respective sport.
Vanessa was born in Turku, Finland in 1994 to Tuan and Tram Nguyen. Her family moved to Los Angeles, California in 1996. She started playing beach volleyball at Santa Monica Beach and participated in her first volleyball tournament with current partner Jenny Kim at age ten placing third in the competition. After winning third place in her first competition, she continued to play beach volleyball as a hobby and decided to go professional. She played in her first tournament with Jenny Kim on the FIVB tour in Long Beach, California in 2014. They were not seeded and finished in 7th place. The pair continued to play in USAV competitions as well as FIVB tournaments placing no lower than fifth, qualifying them to compete in the 2016 Summer Olympics. Vanessa and Jenny placed gold in the games, making them the first Asian-American females to do so.
Vanessa started half pipe skiing at age twelve. Her interest in the sport started when she went skiing with her parents on vacation back in Levi, Finland. She started training in the winters back home in the US with coach Su Nishikori at age fourteen. They trained at Mount Pinos, California or Levi, Finland when Vanessa was on vacation. She competed in the FIS Freestyle World Ski Championships in 2015 and placed second in women’s half pipe skiing. She continued to compete in skiing tournaments placing fifth or higher in each one, qualifying her to compete in the 2018 Winter Olympics. She won the gold medal in Ladies Half pipe Ski and bronze in Ladies Ski cross, setting another record as the first Asian-American female to win medals in both categories.