2018 PyeongChang Olympic Preview

The official logo of the 2018 Olympics. The opening ceremony in South Korea is scheduled Friday, Feb. 9.

Olympic Committee

The official logo of the 2018 Olympics. The opening ceremony in South Korea is scheduled Friday, Feb. 9.

Katie Walsh, Editor in Chief

The 2018 Winter Olympic Games are taking place in PyeongChang, South Korea, from Feb. 9-25. The Olympics bring the world together to celebrate the success, talents and hard work of the incredible athletes that are representing their countries at the games. Here are some of the highlighted sports and U.S. athletes to watch, compiled from Team USA, U.S. figure skating and U.S. hockey websites.

Men’s Ice Hockey: For the first time since 1994, there will be no NHL player allowed to play in the Olympic games. However, there will be a few NHL retirees involved. Team USA captain Brian Gionta played in the NHL from 2001-2017 and was apart of Team USA in the 2006 Olympics. With the absence of professional players, younger kids will get their shot at their Olympic moment. One of these rising stars is Jordan Greenway, a standout at Boston University and a Minnesota Wild prospect. Greenway was a part of the 2017 World Championship squad in which the U.S. won the gold. Troy Terrey was also apart of that squad and was considered a hero. He went 3-3 in the shootout to send the U.S. to the gold medal game and scored the lone shootout goal in the gold medal game. The U.S. will try to capture gold for the first time since 1980, when there was no professional players involved.

Women’s Ice Hockey:  The majority of the U.S. Women’s ice hockey team is the same as the 2014 team when the women took home the silver medal. Hilary Knight has been a part of the two silver medal winning teams in 2010 and 2014. In 2014, she shared the team lead in points and was named to the media all-star team. She’s also been apart of nine world championships and four under 22 world championship teams. Meghan Duggan, captain, is also a member of the two Olympic silver medal teams and was the team captain in 2014. Duggan has played in eight world championships. The U.S. won the first women’s ice hockey goal medal in Olympic history in 1998, but it has not won since. The U.S. and Canada are heavily favored to be the top two competitors again.

Curling:  For the first time in history, curling will have a mixed gender round in addition to the male and female rounds. Siblings Matt and Becca Hamilton will be competing together in the mixed gender round and separately in their gender’s round. They potentially could compete 18 days in a row.

Women’s Figure Skating: The U.S. has three women competing for the podium. The favorite is Bradie Tennell, who was a surprise for many this season. Tenell was the 2018 U.S. National Champion and the bronze medal winner at the 2017 Skate America Grand Prix in November. Tenell won the Junior national championship title in 2015 but was plagued by injuries in 2016.  In addition to Tennell, the U.S. has Mirai Nagasu who was also a part of the 2010 Olympic team and came in fourth at those Olympics. Also look for Karen Chen, who was just edged out of making the 2014 Olympic team. Chan placed fourth at the 2017 world championships.

Men’s Figure Skating: The U.S. has three men also competing for the podium. The favorite is Nathan Chen, who is undefeated in 2018. He recently took home the gold at the 2018 National Championships, ISU Grand Prix Final and the Four Continents Championships. Last Year, Chen finished sixth at the 2017 world championships. Chen is considered to have the best chance of meddling at the Olympics then the U.S. Men have had in years. Adam Rippon comes into the Olympics after failing to make that team in 2014 and 2010. Rippon is the first openly gay figure skater to make the Olympic team. Vincent Zhou is the third male figure skating competing and is the youngest member of the 2018 U.S. Olympic Team.

Ice Dance: The U.S. is the reigning gold medal champs for Ice Dance. In 2014 Meryl Davis and Charlie White made history for the U.S. However, they did not make a run for 2018. There are three U.S. teams hoping to capture gold for the U.S. for the second time in a row. Alex and Maia Shibutani are the American favorites heading in. They have had incredible success on the international and national stage.They are two-time national champs and have placed in bronze and silver position at world championships. They also were a part of the 2014 Olympic team. Madison Chock and Evan Bates are also in a position to grab a medal for the U.S. They are the 2015 National Champions. They have won world silver and bronze medals and were also a part of the 2014 team. Madison Hubbell and Zachary Donohue are the third U.S. team in contention. Hubbell and Donohue have been third at Nationals for years but in 2018 they became the National Champions. This will be their first Olympics and they also have a shot at the podium. These three teams all have the potential to win a medal.

Pairs: The U.S. has one pairs couple competing, Alexa Scimeca Knierim and Chris Knierim. They have been the most competitive pairs team for the U.S. for years. However, they are not expected to medal.

Cross-Country Skiing: The U.S. is hoping to win its first gold medal in Cross Country since 1976 with Jessica Diggins. She has four world championship medals and won the last World Cup title before the Olympic Games. Sadie Bjornsen is another U.S. woman to watch. She and Diggins together won a world championship medal in 2017. She has had three podium finishes in 2018. Sophie Caldwell is another female to watch in cross-country. She recorded the U.S. women’s highest Olympic mark in 2014 placing sixth in the freestyle sprint. On the Men’s side, a name to watch is Erik Bjornsen, who made his Olympic debut in 2014 when he finished sixth in the classical team sprint. Simi Hamilton finished sixth with Bjornsen in 2014 and since has been on the prodium three times for sprint. One of the most important names to Cross-Country Skiing is Andy Newell, who has been to the games in 2006, 2010 and 2014. He has also been to nine world championships. Newell made history for the U.S. when he won in 2006.

Alpine Skiing: The U.S. has one of the most popular names in sports on its Alpine Skiing team, Lindsey Vonn. Vonn has the most wins of any female in the sport including a gold and silver from the 2010 Olympics. However, the question for Vonn is her health. She has been plagued by injuries the past few years and needs to overcome them for a shot at gold. Alongside Vonn is Mikaela Shiffrin, Shiffrin won the Olympic gold in Slalom in 2014 and is a favorite to repeat. Shiffrin is expected to win more than one medal though as she has become even more of an all-around alpine skier with victories in every discipline. On the Men’s side Ted Ligety comes into these games as a two-time Olympic champion. He won the combined event gold in 2006 and the giant slalom gold in 2014. He became the first man in U.S. history to win two golds in alpine skiing and hopes to capture a third in 2018. Andrew Weibrecht joined Ligety in winning two medals in alpine skiing in 2014 as well. He won the bronze medal for the Super G in 2010 and won the silver medal in 2014.

Freestyle Skiing: The U.S. had gold medal performances last year for this event. One of those came from Maddie Bowman winning gold in her Olympic debut. She is hoping to repeat that title and is coming off of two wins on her world cup tour. In addition to Bowman, Ashley Caldwell, two-time Olympian, is also posed for success in 2018. She performs some of the hardest and most dangerous tricks. The question is will the hard tricks pay off in the end. On the men’s side, Gus Kenworthy is the U.S. favorite to take home a medal. He won silver in the debut of slopestyle skiing at the Olympics in Sochi. Kenworthy is hoping to take home the gold this time. David Wise is another athlete to look for, he is the reigning olympic champion in Sochi and is hoping to repeat in 2018.

Snowboarding: The U.S. has had the most dominating snowboarding team since 1998. One of those contributing female members is Jamie Anderson who won gold in Sochi in 2014. She has continued to medal in snowboarding events over the past four years and is a favorite to take home the gold for the U.S. Chloe Kim, 17, is a contender in the halfpipe competition. She scored a perfect 100 in in the 2015-2016 season and was the first to secure her Olympic spot this year. Kelly Clark has already competed in four Olympic games and has medaled at three of them including winning gold in 2002. She has been steady for the U.S. for 15 years. The men also have a dominating force coming to PyeongChang. Shaun White has been a fan-favorite for years. He’s a two-time Olympic gold medalist and is hoping to make a run for gold.. Ben Ferguson narrowly missed out on making the 2014 Olympics but earned a spot with consistent performances leading up to 2018. His style is unmatched by others and could set him apart from the rest of the field. Ryan Stassel is a returning Olympian from 2014 where he burst onto the snowboarding scene. He’s recently recorded two third-place finishes and hopes to land himself on the podium.

Bobsled: The U.S. won four medals for bobsledding in 2014 and are hoping to repeat their performance in 2018. Elana Meyers Taylor is one of the most decorated women for bobsledding. She will return as a pilot this season and is hoping to capture gold for the first time. Jamie Gruben Poser will also return from Sochi where she grabbed the bronze medal. On the men’s side, Justin Olsen will return to the Olympic stage; however, Olsen will switch from the push position to the pilot position. Olsen won a gold medal at the 2010 Olympics. Codie Bascue will compete in his first Olympics after sweeping the 2016 National Team Trials. He most recently won a gold world cup medal.

Short Track Speed Skating: Jessica Kooreman will lead the way for the women in Short Track Speed Skating. She barely missed the podium in 2014 coming in fourth in the 1,000m and sixth in the 1,500m. She had the best finish at least year’s worlds for the U.S. Maame Biney is the first African-American women to qualify for the U.S. Speed Skating Olympic Team. Biney has been the surprise of the year for the U.S. and has potential to come home with the best finish for the U.S. For the men’s team, J.R. Celeski will lead the way as a two-time Olympic medalist winning silver in 2014 and bronze in 2010.

Long Track Speed Skating: Heather Bergsma, a two-time Olympian, will lead the way for the U.S. team. She was the 2016-2017 Grand World Cup Champion and earned three world cup medals in 2017-2018 season. Bergsma has potential to medal in four events and could walk away with her most successful Olympics to date. Brittany Bowe is another one to watch; she was the 2015-2016 Grand World Cup Champion. Although injuries and illness have kept her from being her best the last year, she could peak at the right time. The men have a four-time Olympic medalist in Shani Davis. Davis is the all time leader in ISU world cup points. He is one to watch for in his fifth games. Joey Mantia was a 2014 Olympian and won the U.S. first world title in mass start in 2017. Mitch Whitmore is another male athlete to watch in the 500. He holds the national record in the 500 and is hoping to grab a medal in his third Olympic games.