That nail-biting excitement that comes just once every four years is is quickly approaching. That’s right, we’re talking about the 2018 Winter Games. Unfolding from February 9-25 in PyeongChang, South Korea, it’s the first time the country has hosted the Games since 1988.
There are numerous American skiers and snowboarders poised to make our country proud and bring home hardware, so be sure to tune in to cheer on these top medal hopefuls.
Mikaela Shiffrin: At the age 18, Mikaela Shiffrin became the youngest slalom champion at Sochi in 2014. Since then, the Eagle-Vail skier (who free skis when she can at Beaver Creek) has ramped up her game. Having won the World Cup overall title in 2017, Shiffrin is no longer just a slalom specialist. She’s also landed recent victories and podiums in downhill, super G, and giant slalom. Shiffrin enters the PyeongChang Games as a real contender for not just one, but five medals.
Lindsey Vonn: Having missed the Games in 2014 due to injury, America’s winningest skier of all time is unflinching in her determination to once again take the top podium step on the Olympic stage. Deemed “the comeback queen” due to returning to victory after a litany of serious injuries, the 33-year-old Vail veteran who won downhill gold eight years ago has a single focus this season: to win another gold medal.
Chris Corning: This young big air snowboarder dials in his moves at Keystone’s terrain park when he’s not blowing away crowds in international competitions. The 18-year-old won slopestyle silver and bronze medals in the 2017 World Championships and as the first American to land a quadruple cork, stands a great chance to shine at his first Winter Games.
Jake Pates: Another Vail-trained athlete, 19-year-old snowboarder Jake Pates beat out a field of the world’s best halfpipe riders this December to win a qualifier with a backside double-cork 1260 McTwist. Not sure what that is? You’ll just have to tune into the halfpipe competition to check it out.
Gus Kenworthy: After winning a silver medal in the 2014 Olympic slopestyle skiing event and saving a bunch of stray dogs from Russia, Gus Kenworthy has proven his skills in three freestyle disciplines, landing on podiums in international slopestyle, halfpipe, and big air contests. He’s overcome a few injuries, too, but hopes to once again compete for at least another medal (if not two) in PyeongChang.
Chloe Kim: Teenage sensation Chloe Kim has been igniting fires in the halfpipe over the last couple of years. The 17-year-old snowboarder seamlessly clinched her spot for 2018 in the first run of finals at the Breckenridge Dew Tour this December with a pair of huge 1080 spins. With three X Games gold medals and a technical bag of tricks, this cheerful California girl is bound to come up big in South Korea.
Jamie Anderson: Sailing high through the air is Jamie Anderson’s forte, especially if dizzying spins are involved. The South Lake Tahoe native comes into PyeongChang as the defending gold medalist in slopestyle. Having finished on the podium in pretty much every competition she’s entered since then, chances are the yoga-loving ripper will be guarding her gold closely.
Maddie Bowman: Also hailing from South Lake Tahoe, Maddie Bowman already has one gold to her credit. Since winning the first ski halfpipe event in Olympic history, the 23-year-old has come back from a knee injury to continue her victory streak. She has won a whopping seven X Games medals and is the first female skier to throw a switch 900 in competition.
Evan Strong: Following a motorcycle accident in 2004, Evan Strong lost his left leg below the knee. He learned how to snowboard with a prosthetic leg at Northstar and shortly thereafter, began competing in and then winning international competitions. He landed gold in snowboard cross in 2014 as a paraplegic and will be looking to defend it this March in PyeongChang.
Ted Ligety: Ted Ligety’s gravity-bending style of giant slalom turns involves nearly scraping the snow with his hip and shoulder around every gate. This has helped earn him the nickname, “Mr. GS.” The Park City skier landed GS gold in the 2014 Games (also gold in Combined in 2006) and after returning from knee and back injuries is steadily making his way back among the top contenders just in time for PyeongChang.
Joss Christensen: Park City’s Joss Christensen wowed the world when he won gold in the inaugural slopestyle skiing event in 2014, but has been fighting back from injury ever since. He’s sustained two broken hands and a broken wrist, as well as collarbone and knee injuries. Still, the 26-year-old has not lost his taste for the top step and comes into this season determined to defend his gold.
Kelly Clark: The most winning snowboarder of all time, Kelly Clark is heading to her fifth Winter Games. The Vermont native is a true pioneer of the sport, winning gold in the 2002 halfpipe, followed by a near-medal performance of fourth in 2006 and bronze in 2010 and 2014. The 34-year-old still goes higher than anyone out of the halfpipe and continues to push the entire sport to new heights.
Lindsey Jacobellis: Another Vermont native and snowboarding veteran, Lindsey Jacobellis heads to her fourth Winter Games at age 32. Winning silver in snowboard cross in 2006, Jacobellis missed the podium in her last two Games but has dominated the World Cup circuit with a record 29 wins and 10 X Games gold medals to her credit.
For more information and complete competition schedules, visit the official Winter Olympics website here.
Originally written by RootsRated for Rent Skis.
Featured image provided by Republic of Korea