The Americans Competing at the 2018 Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang You Need to Know About
The 2018 Winter Olympics are fast approaching. The games, to be held in Pyeongchang, South Korea, will award a record 102 gold medals in 15 disciplines across seven sports: biathlon, bobsleigh, curling, ice hockey, luge, skating, and skiing. (In fact, Pyeongchang will be the first Winter Olympics in history to hold more than 100 medal events.) And as you might guess, many talented American athletes are preparing to compete in those events. About 240 of them, to be exact.
Curious about who made Team USA this year? Read on to learn about the athletes you’ll watch compete for the United States at the 2018 Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang.
1. Lowell Bailey
- Sport: Biathlon
Lowell Bailey was the first U.S. athlete to officially qualify for the 2018 Winter Olympics, according to NBC Sports. He’s also the first biathlon world champion for the U.S. Additionally, Time reports that three-time Olympian will try to win the U.S.’s first-ever Olympic biathlon medal in Pyeongchang. Bailey earned Team USA’s highest-ever finish in the Winter Olympics sport when he achieved eighth place in the men’s 20-kilometer in Sochi in 2014. In 2017, Bailey won the U.S.’s first world championship gold medal, and he hopes to make history again in Pyeongchang.
Next: This athlete has already become a ‘viral sensation.’
2. Maame Biney
- Sport: Short track speedskating
Maame Biney is another athlete to watch at the 2018 Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang. Time reports that the 17-year-old has already made history by becoming the first black woman to qualify for Team USA’s short track speedskating team. NBC reports that Biney became a “viral sensation” when she dominated the 500-meter races at the U.S. Olympic Team Trials for speedskating. Plus, “her exuberant celebrations and giggly interview earned her legions of new fans.” Biney hails from Ghana, a country on the west side of Africa, and began taking skating lessons at age six, when she moved to Virginia.
Next: This athlete didn’t let a concussion derail her Olympic dreams.
3. Brittany Bowe
- Sport: Long track speedskating
Brittany Bowe is another speedskating athlete to watch in Pyeongchang. Time reports that Bowe will make a comeback in the Winter Olympic sport after sustaining a concussion that kept her off the ice for months. (She collided with a teammate, and struggled with post-concussive syndrome for months.) Bowe holds the world record in the women’s 1,000 meter. And she told NBC, “For as long as I can remember, my dream has always been to be an Olympian.” As for her goals in Pyeongchang? She says, “My goal is to stand on top of that Olympic podium, watch the American flag raised, and sing my national anthem.”
Next: This athlete has been looking forward to Pyeongchang for 10 years.
4. Nathan Chen
- Sport: Figure skating
You can expect to hear a lot more about Nathan Chen once the 2018 Winter Olympics get underway. Time reports that Chen, a rising figure skating star, was the first U.S. man in eight years to win the ISU Grand Prix Final in Nagoya, Japan, which is the last major international competition before the 2018 Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang. The 18-year-old is a favorite of fans who are hoping for a men’s singles medal in 2018. ABC notes that Chen was just 10 when the last U.S. male figure skater won gold in the 2010 Vancouver Games. At that point, he was already ascending in the figure skating world. And even at 10, he said he hoped to compete in the 2018 Winter Olympics.
Next: Hockey fans will want to keep an eye out for this accomplished athlete.
5. Brianna Decker
- Sport: Ice hockey
Love watching hockey? Then you’ll want to keep an eye on Brianna Decker in Pyeongchang. Time reports that the women’s hockey team is the center of attention for the 2018 Winter Olympics because the NHL barred players from competing in the Olympic sport. Brianna Decker is currently Team USA’s top scorer and told NBC Sports that she’s aiming for a gold medal in Pyeongchang. She also said that she’s excited that the games are happening in South Korea this year. “I have never been there and I am excited to see the different culture. I am excited to try their food.”
Next: This athlete wants to disprove some major stereotypes about her sport.
6. Jessie Diggins
- Sport: Cross country skiing
World champion Jessie Diggins will lead the 2018 Winter Olympics cross-country skiing team in Pyeongchang. Time notes that though the U.S. trails behind European nations in cross-country skiing, the women’s team has made significant strides in recent years. Diggins, along with teammate Kikkan Randall, made history by earning silver and bronze medals in the world championship sprints. NBC reports that though Diggins likes to wear some glitter on her cheeks when she competes, she says there’s an old cross-country skiing stereotype she’d like to end. “We are not just spandex-wearing fairies gliding through the woods! Our sport can have some brutal crashes in the head-to-head sprint races or mass starts, and it’s aerobically the hardest sport there is.”
Next: This athlete began learning her sport at the age of two.
7. Susan Dunklee
- Sport: Biathlon
Time recommends keeping an eye out for Susan Dunklee at the 2018 Winter Olympics. Dunklee is making her second appearance at an Olympic Winter Games in Pyeongchang. And NBC reports that she’s actually the daughter of two-time Olympic cross-country skier Stan Dunklee. She starting skiing at the age of two, but didn’t pick up a biathlon rifle until the age of 22. She made history herself when she won silver at the 2017 world championships, becoming the first woman to win a medal for the U.S.
Next: These brothers are motivated by a little sibling rivalry.
8. Bryan and Taylor Fletcher
- Sport: Nordic combined
Time names brothers Bryan and Taylor Fletcher as dominant figures in the Nordic combined for Team USA. Bryan, the older brother, overcame leukemia as a child. At that point in his life, he “found happiness in ski jumping,” according to Time. NBC reports that Taylor, Bryan’s younger brother, followed Bryan into the sport of ski jumping before the siblings made their way into the Nordic combined. (The Nordic combined involves both ski jumping and cross-country skiing.) In 2014, both Fletchers competed in the Sochi Olympics. The brothers say that they enjoyed “healthy competition” with each other growing up. And sibling rivalry continues to motivate them as they prepare for Pyeongchang.
Next: The 2018 Winter Olympics will likely mark this athlete’s last Olympic season.
9. Erin Hamlin
- Sport: Luge
Time characterizes Erin Hamlin as a standout among the athletes competing in luge for Team USA in Pyeongchang. The three-time Olympian won the U.S. its first medal ever for singles luge in 2014. She won bronze in Sochi and hopes to ascend higher on the podium at the 2018 Winter Olympics. Yet NBC reports that this is Hamlin’s last Olympic season, and possibly her last luge season. She plans to enjoy the time she has left on her sled — but is also looking forward to “normalcy” once she retires.
Next: This athlete has made history — and considers herself an ardent feminist.
10. Sarah Hendrickson
- Sport: Ski jumping
Another accomplished athlete to watch at the 2018 Winter Olympics? Sarah Hendrickson. Time reports that Hendrickson is the only member of the 2014 U.S. Olympic team in ski jumping to be returning to the 2018 Winter Olympics. Cosmopolitan reports that the 23-year-old started skiing at the age of two. And in Sochi, she made history as the first woman to ski jump in the Olympics when she was assigned the No. 1 bib. She’s also an ardent feminist, and says that she just wants female athletes to have all the same opportunities as male athletes.
Next: This athlete is making history, too.
11. Gus Kenworthy
- Sport: Freestyle skiing
The halfpipe and slopestyle skiing events were new to the Winter Olympics in 2014. And in Pyeongchang, a number of notable U.S. athletes will compete in them, including Gus Kenworthy. Kenworthy earned silver in 2014’s slopestyle, and landed on the podium for the halfpipe in international competitions. He’ll also make history as one of the first openly gay male athletes to compete in the Winter Olympics. Time reports that the freestyle skiing star competed in the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi, but hadn’t come out at the time. He came out publicly in 2015, and recently said, “I don’t think I could have ever come out as a gay athlete 30 years ago and expected to be successful in my sport. My story’s indicative of change.”
Next: This athlete qualified to compete at the Winter Olympics in 2014, but was too young to go.
12. Chloe Kim
- Sport: Snowboarding
Many Americans are excited to watch Chloe Kim compete in the 2018 Winter Olympics. Time characterizes the 17-year-old as a “snowboarding phenom” who’s a favorite to win gold for Team USA in Pyeongchang. She was the first woman to land back-to-back 1080s in a competition last year. And she has a spot at the top of the world rankings for her sport. Cosmopolitan reports that Kim should have gone to the Winter Olympics in Sochi, since she qualified on the half-pipe. But she was too young to compete. Fortunately, she’ll be heading to Pyeongchang with the rest of Team USA!
Next: This athlete doesn’t consider herself an adrenaline junkie, unlike many other Olympians.
13. Annie O’Shea
- Sport: Skeleton
Don’t forget to watch for Annie O’Shea once the 2018 Winter Olympics begin in Pyeongchang. Time reports that O’Shea will be an athlete to watch at the 2018 Winter Olympics. With her 2015 to 2016 season, she became the fastest of the women’s team. NBC learned that O’Shea “is not an ‘adrenaline junkie,’ unlike most other Winter Olympians. She has a fear of falling from heights and does not enjoy rock climbing.” And even though she’s a winter athlete, she loves taking trips to the beach.
Next: This athlete is making history in his sport.
14. Adam Rippon
- Sport: Figure skating
Another name to remember? Adam Rippon. NPR reports that the 28-year-old figure skater is the U.S’s first openly gay man to qualify for the Winter Olympics. Despite his fourth-place finish at the U.S. figure skating championships, Rippon was selected to join Nathan Chen and Vincent Zhou at the 2018 Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang. 2018 marks Rippon’s Olympic debut, and it’s been more than 80 years since a man his age competed as a rookie. Newsweek notes that Rippon is a decade older than his 17 and 18-year-old teammates, but says, “I’ve done a lot of things later in life … and I knew that this was my shot.” He adds, “I want to be visible and be a voice for kids. You should embrace who you are. That’s what makes you awesome: not just being gay, but all of the qualities that you have.”
Next: These siblings have become fan favorites.
15. Maia and Alex Shibutani
- Sport: Figure skating
Figure skating fans will also want to keep an eye out for siblings Maia and Alex Shibutani. The pair are 2017 world bronze medalists, and two-time U.S. champions in ice dance. They hope to follow Meryl Davis and Charlie White’s historic gold medal in Sochi in 2014. E! Online reports that the Shibutanis make up “one of the most-watched ice dance teams in the world.” They launched a YouTube channel, called “ShibSibs,” back in 2012 and have gained thousands of fans who follow their adventures both on and off the ice.
Next: Skiing fans will want to watch this athlete.
16. Mikaela Shiffrin
- Sport: Alpine skiing
Time reports that world champion Mikaela Shiffrin “is poised for another triumphant alpine skiing run” at the 2018 Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang. When she was just 18, Shiffrin became the youngest athlete ever to win an Olympic gold in slalom. She’ll try to win the same gold medal this year, at age 22. She has the second-most World Cup victories of any U.S. female skier — just behind Lindsey Vonn, who will also compete in Pyeonchang. NBC notes that Shiffrin’s dominance is rarely seen in sports, let alone skiing, so she’s definitely an athlete to watch.
Next: This athlete explains the appeal of his unusual — but popular — sport.
17. John Shuster
- Sport: Curling
Once the 2018 Winter Olympics get underway, you’ll want to keep an eye out for John Shuster. Time reports that the four-time Olympian will serve as skip for the 2018 Winter Olympics curling team. Team USA hopes to return to the podium in Pyeongchang ” after a more-than-decade-long curling drought.” Many Americans wonder why curling is such a popular Winter Olympics sport, and Shuster told NBC that he thinks it has something to do with the unique fan experience. “During a curling match, we’re mic’ed up the entire time,” he explained. “We’re talking about strategy but your interactions with teammates. . .I think people are able to connect on a personal level.”
Next: This athlete made history by advancing gender equality in her sport.
18. Elana Meyers Taylor
- Sport: Bobsled
Time reports that Elana Meyers Taylor was the first American woman to ever win a bobsled world championship in 2015 — and will be a Team USA athlete to watch in Pyeongchang. Taylor is already a two-time Olympic medalist. And she’s advanced gender equality in her sport, competing in a 4-man event with three male brakeman. (That was a first for the Winter Olympics sport, which had required women to race only two-person sleds.) NBC reports that Taylor “is nearing the end of a four-year wait to make up for a mistake that cost her Olympic gold in Sochi,” and that has motivated her as she prepares for Pyeongchang.
Next: Everybody is excited to watch this athlete in Pyeongchang.
19. Lindsey Vonn
- Sport: Alpine skiing
If you know the name of only one athlete representing the United States in Pyeongchang, it’s probably Lindsey Vonn, one of the top female athletes in America. This three-time Olympian has earned one gold medal and one bronze, and will try to return to the podium at the 2018 Winter Olympics. Sports Illustrated reports that Vonn has sustained many injuries over the course of her career, including a knee injury that sidelined her from the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi. The publication explains, “Everyone gets hurt, but Vonn has been hurt more than most.” She’ll also number “among the oldest racers on the mountain—nearly all of the competitors who came into the sport when Vonn did are retired—and, by a wide margin, the most accomplished.”
Next: This athlete will be one of the most recognizable members of Team USA at the 2018 Winter Olympics.
20. Shaun White
- Sport: Snowboarding
Another American athlete you’ll only hear more about once the 2018 Winter Olympics begin? Shaun White. CBS reports that White will be one of the most recognizable names in Pyeongchang, and it could be the last time that White competes for Olympic gold. His run at a fourth Olympic team almost ended before it began when in October, he slammed his face into the halfpipe at an Olympic superpipe in New Zealand. He needed more than 60 stitches and stayed for five days in the hospital. But White made a recovery from the brutal crash and will try to add to the two Olympic medals he’s already won.
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