U.S. Women To Watch at the 2018 Winter Olympics
If you're like us, you get choked up at the sound of the Olympic theme playing as Bob Costas tells a riveting backstory about an Olympian who overcame daunting adversity to reach the pinnacle of athletic competition. Or maybe you're not. But either way, there are a lot of badass women to watch this Olympics. Check out some of the stories below and prepare to be inspired.
Whatever happens in South Korea, Erin Jackson has already made history: The 25-year-old is the first African-American woman to make Team USA's long-track speed skating team. (Long-track speed skating, or just speed skating, unsurprisingly, takes place on a larger rink than short-track speed skating.) What's even cooler about Jackson is the fact that she's only been speed skating for four months—the native of Ocala, FL, was previously an inline skater.
UPDATE: Erin Jackson finished the 500m race placing 24th. Congrats on your first Olympics Erin!
Amanda Kessel almost made the 2010 U.S. Women's Olympic hockey team at age 17, but was eventually cut. She did make the 2014 team, though, and helped bring home the silver medal. But a concussion in a pre-Olympic scrimmage almost derailed her post-Sochi career, and kept her off the ice for two whole years. Now, the 26-year-old—who skates for the New York Riveters and is reportedly the highest-paid woman in the National Women's Hockey League—is back on Team USA.
UPDATE: The U.S. Women's Hockey Team plays the Gold Medal Game vs. Canada on Thursday, February 22nd!
Read about more women to watch at Shape Magazine.
Bobsledder Elana Meyers Taylor
U.S. Olympic bobsledder Elana Meyers Taylor is in Pyeongchang preparing to compete in the 2018 Winter Games, but she said a concussion three years ago nearly ended her career.
Meyers Taylor, along with two other Olympic athletes, has pledged to donate her brain for concussion research, becoming one of the most-high profile Olympic female athletes to do so.
"The long-term consequences of brain trauma are a major concern in sports, and I’m doing this for every athlete that will follow in my footsteps," Meyers Taylor, 33, said in a statement released by the Concussion Legacy Foundation, a Boston-based organization that advocates for the study, treatment and prevention of the effects of brain trauma, particularly in athletes.
Joining Taylor in pledging to donate their brains for concussion research are four-time U.S. Olympic ice hockey player Angela Ruggiero and Hayley Wickenheiser, a five-time Olympic medalist for the Canadian women’s ice hockey team.
Read the full story at ABC News.
Snowboarder, Chloe Kim
Born to South Korean immigrants, California native Chloe Kim has been a dominant contender in the women’s snowboarding half-pipe.Kim would have qualified to compete in the 2014 Sochi Winter Olympics, but due to minimum age requirements, she was unable to participate. Now at 17 years old, she is looking to win a medal in PyeongChang. Kim is trilingual — speaking English, Korean, and French — and was the first women to land back-to-back 1080s, a trick that involves spinning three full times.
UPDATE: Chloe Kim wins the gold medal in the halfpipe! Congrats Chloe!
Snowboarder Hailey Langland
Hailey Langland will be representing the United States in women’s snowboarding big air, a new Olympic event where competitors start atop a high snow ramp and perform multiple tricks off a big jump. The 17-year-old has been snowboarding for almost as long as she could walk, but she didn't start focusing on big air until the last several years, she told NBC News last April. She was the first woman in X Games history to land a "cab 1080 double cork," a trick that involves spinning three full times while also inverting twice, earning her gold at X Games Aspen 2017.
U.S. Figure Skater Karen Chen
Karen Chen, 18, is a Taiwanese-American figure skater from Fremont, California. She first gained national attention after winning a bronze medal at the U.S. National Championships in 2015. Just two years later, Karen skated a record-breaking score and won gold at the 2017 U.S. National Championships, and won fourth at the World Championship, helping earn Team USA three Olympic spots in women's figure skating.
Figure Skater Mirai Nagasu
Japanese-American figure skater Mirai Nagasu is an Olympic veteran, having competed at the 2010 Vancouver Winter Olympics and placing fourth overall. But in 2014, she was left off the team sent to Sochi despite finishing third at the U.S. National Championships.
Four years after overcoming disappointment, the 24-year-old Mirai will return to the spotlight in PyeongChang. The Southern California native is currently a full-time student at the University of Colorado Colorado Springs and is only the second American woman to land a triple axel in competition, following Tonya Harding in 1991.
Read the full story on Asian-American athletes competing in the 2018 Winter Olympics at NBC News.
Alpine Skier Mikaela Shiffrin
Although she's only 22 years old, Shiffrin's a solid pro when it comes to the Olympics. She won the gold in Sochi in 2014 on slalom and came in 5th on the giant slalom. And oh yeah, that gold made her the youngest athlete ever to win an Olympic gold in slalom. At this point, she's won 31 career world cups, which is the second-most cups won by an American woman (behind rockstar Lindsey Vonn... who's won 77).
UPDATE: Mikaela Shiffrin wins gold in Giant Slalom. Congrats Mikaela!
Ice Dancer Maia Shibutani
Shibutani, 23, competes alongside her brother Alex, which is pretty cute, no? At their Olympic debut in Sochi, they placed ninth, and in 2017, they won their third world championships medal. They're definitely a pair to watch. Maia and Alex are known as the ShibSibs, and they actually have their own YouTube channel to show off what they're up to.
UPDATE: The Shibutani's win a bronze medal in Ice Dancing! Congrats Shib Sibs!
Freestyle Skier Maggie Voisin
Uh, you guys, slopestyle — what Voisin does — is wild. It's basically skateboarding, but on skis. Halfpipe and slopestyle were first introduced to the Olympics in 2014, so now Voisin's coming in to try and solidify the sport's place at the Olympics. In 2014, she was the youngest athlete, at 15 years old. to make Team USA since 1972, but unfortunately, she broke her ankle during training so didn't get to compete. You can bet she's coming back for redemption.
UPDATE: Maggie Voisin finished 4th in Slopestyle skiing. Congrats on a fantastic performance Maggie!
Bobsledder Aja Evans
Now, the women's Nigerian bobsled team has been getting all the attention since becoming the first athletes to qualify for the Winter Olympics ever from Nigeria. Which, fair. But while you're watching the Nigerian team, keep an eye out for Aja Evans on Team USA. The 29-year-old was formerly a track star in college before finding bobsled, and her strength and speed have made her an incredible and vital part of the team.
See more women to watch at Elite Daily.