10 Female 2018 Winter Olympic Athletes To Watch In PyeongChang
The 2018 Winter Olympics are nearly a month away, and while fans are certainly stoked to see more than two weeks of events including skiing, bobsled, and hockey, it's the 2018 Winter Olympic athletes looking to compete in PyeongChang that make the whole thing possible. Athletes will compete for 102 medals in 15 disciplines, including, for the first time, "Big Air in snowboarding, mass start in speed skating, mixed doubles in curling, and a team skiing event," according to CBC. These 10 female athletes — who've made major waves in sports like snowboarding, bobsled, ice dancing, and more — will be among the many to watch in PyeongChang when the games begin in February.
While the official Olympic teams won't be announced until Jan. 22, there are plenty of athletes coming out of the woodwork who are strong Olympic contenders. Female athletes will be competing in disciplines across the board in 2018, including bobsled, for which Nigeria's dynamite all-women team qualified, and hockey, where the U.S. women's team will compete, hoping to win its first gold medal in 20 years.
These 10 female athletes are just like us — except for, you know, how incredible they are in their respective fields. Ahead, learn a little bit about what each woman is hoping to bring to the Olympic table.
1. Mikaela Shiffrin
Skier Mikaela Shiffrin is a familiar face to the Winter Games. In 2014, at age 18, she became the youngest athlete in history to win an Olympic slalom gold medal. She's been touring the world cup circuit since, and has racked up 36 career world cup wins across three disciplines. Currently, she's on her third straight world championship title in slalom.
For Shiffrin, the hardest part of prepping for the Olympics is "the constant training in grueling conditions," she tells Bustle. "Sometimes we have really nice, sunny days, with perfect snow conditions, and you couldn’t ask for anything better, but it is often freezing cold, raining, or a blizzard, and you really have to dig deep to get the most out of the session."
And much of the time she spends in those dour conditions isn't actually practicing the physical actions of the sport, she says. Her training sessions are around five hours long, but that equals out to "about seven to 10 minutes doing my actual sport, because the rest of the time is spent on chairlifts, doing video analysis, taking a rest," she says. "In ski training, you literally can NOT be on snow training enough because the time [spent on the slopes] is so limited." Shiffrin has qualified for the 2018 team.
2. Chloe Kim
Snowboarder Chloe Kim is only 17 years old, but she's already made such a name for herself that she was only unable to enter the 2014 Olympics because of age restrictions. Instead, she became the only athlete in X Games history to have won three gold medals before the age of 16, and took the women's halfpipe and slopestyle titles at the 2016 Winter Youth Olympic Games in Lillehammer, Norway. Now, she's planning to head to Pyeongchang to compete in halfpipe snowboarding.
Her parents, who are South Korean, have been "so influential," she tells Bustle, and critical to her success. Her dad was the first person who put her on a snowboard when she was just four years old, and "he especially devoted a lot of his time to making sure I got to my practices," she says. Kim tells Bustle she's excited to get the chance to compete in front of her parents' family that still live in South Korea. Kim has qualified for the 2018 team.
3. Jamie Anderson
Jamie Anderson is another familiar face for winter sports fans: She won gold at the 2014 Winter Olympics, then went on to win an X Games silver medal in slopestyle. She also won three world cup events, and World Snowboard Federation's World Championship titles in both slopestyle and big air. In this year's Olympics, she'll be aiming to grab the gold and defend her title.
For Anderson, an essential part of training for her events involves making sure her diet is healthy, full of "pure, organic, whole foods," she tells Bustle. "You have to make sure you're taking in a lot of extra vitamins and minerals. I drink a green shake that's filled with amino acids [and] has over 100 superfoods like spirulina, goji berries, all kinds of different grains."
"Giving yourself the right ingredients is for your body, what positive affirmations are to the mind," she says.
Anderson has qualified for the 2018 team.
4. Jessica Kooreman
Jessica Kooreman is a veteran speedskater who won gold at the 2014 Olympic Team Trials in the 500, 1,000, and 1,500 rounds. She also had the best finish among U.S. women in the 2017 World Short Track Speedskating Championships. She qualified for the 2018 Olympics on the last day possible, and will be on the U.S. women's short track speedskating team.
Kooreman says her parents have been hugely influential for her. "When my parents had me at the age of 20 my dad changed his focus to helping me chase my dreams," she tells Bustle. "My mom also skated in her early teens. She wishes she had started earlier and so by the age of one she put me on skates and I haven't looked back since."
"I have an internal drive that is fueled by the inspiration I get from my parents when I think about the sacrifice and work they have put into helping me become who I am today," Kooreman says.
5. Sarah Hendrickson
Ski jumper Sarah Hendrickson was just 14 years old when she won the Continental Cup title in 2009 — and she hasn't slowed down since. These days, Hendrickson can also count a 2012 World Cup title among her many accomplishments, along with a FIS World Championships medal she won in 2013. In 2014, Hendrickson headed to Sochi where she placed 21st, despite battling an injury the year before. This year, Hendrickson has already qualified for PyeongChang — and she has big plans for when she gets there.
"I had some people tell me that coming back from my knee injury would be impossible," she tells Bustle. "But I love proving people wrong. I have always been a small quiet person that went unnoticed for so many years."
6. Mirai Nagasu
Nagasu has been competing in high-level figure skating circuits since 2008, when she won the women's U.S. national title at just 14 years old. That made her the youngest woman since 1997 to win the U.S. title, and the first woman since 1938 to win back-to-back junior and senior national titles. She made her Olympic debut in Vancouver in 2010, but missed a spot on the 2014 team. She hopes to come into the 2018 Winter Games after fourth-place U.S. championship finishes in both 2016 and 2017.
Nagasu says her earliest memory of her sport involves her number one inspiration: "Definitely watching Michelle Kwan be amazing in Nagano," she tells Bustle. "She was and is my role model."
7. Maia Shibutani
Maia Shibutani has competed in ice dancing with her partner and brother Alex Shibutani since 2004. They debuted together on the senior level in the 2010-11 season, and took bronze medals at both the 2010 NHK Trophy, and the 2011 ISU World Championships. Their road to the 2014 Olympics was paved by another bronze medal at the 2014 U.S. Championships; in the 2014 Olympics, they placed ninth.
The pair won their first U.S. title in 2016, and took a world championship bronze in 2017. They're heading into the Winter Games hoping for a second shot at the gold, and according to Shibutani, the perception non-figure skaters often have of the sport can be a little off.
"Figure skating has a reputation for appearing effortless," she tells Bustle. "Behind that effortless image is years of work that culminates in a total of seven minutes competing on Olympic ice. For many skaters, competing presents high-pressure challenges. So much of the work is for very few performances a year."
8. Madison Chock
Ice dancer Madison Chock will be shooting for PyeongChang with her partner Evan Bates, who competed with her in the 2014 Games. They placed ninth together, but went on to medal at two world championships — one silver and one bronze. They scored a top-10 finish at the 2017 ISU World Championships, and plan to "make a strong run" for the 2018 Olympics, a rep tells Bustle.
Chock describes her relationship with Bates as "reading my favorite book. I can often see what he's thinking by a single look and other times he can still take me by surprise, especially with his creative ideas," she tells Bustle. "It's just so beautiful to watch an idea he has blossom into fruition right on the spot."
9. The U.S. Women's Hockey Team
OK, so there's a lot of women (24, to be exact) on the U.S. Women's Hockey Team, and from that roster will come the final list of women headed to PyeongChang this February to continue their very impressive winning streak. The team has medaled at every Olympics since the sport was introduced in Nagano in 1998, and with the help of noted players Hilary Knight, Meghan Duggan, Brianna Decker, Alex Rigsby, and Monique Lamoureux-Morando, hopes are high that they will keep that momentum going on the 20-year anniversary of Team USA's gold medal in Nagano.
10. Aja Evans
Brakeman Aja Evans began her athletic career as a track and field athlete, but began competitively bobsledding in 2012, where she scored 794 out of a possible 800 points on the combine test, which won her the 2012 U.S. National Push Championship title. She also nabbed the title of fastest female brakeman at the 2016 U.S. National Push Championships, and rejoined the U.S. national team for the 2016-17 season. She earned a bronze medal at the 2017 World Championships, and fully intends to be part of the U.S. team when it hits the slopes in PyeongChang.
Evans says she achieves her goals simply by writing them out. "I love to jot down notes, set reminders, and make a checklist of the things I need to accomplish that day," she tells Bustle. She's also a planner: "I always try and plan my day out the night before. I set about five to 10 goals a day, and at night before I go to sleep, I write my goals/tasks for the next day."
If only we could all write out our goals each night and become an Olympian the next day. Get excited to see these women on the slopes, rink, pipe, or board repping Team USA this coming February in PyeongChang.
To learn more, visit teamusa.org. The Winter Games begin LIVE Feb. 8.
Editor's note: This piece has been updated from its original version.