The PyeongChang Winter Olympics begin on February 8th this year, so it’s time to get excited! But if you’re anything like me, you probably don’t follow winter sports too closely outside of the Olympics. This can make it hard to know who to cheer on when you start watching the games. Here’s a list of some of the American athletes you should be sure to pay attention to during this year’s Olympics.
1. Chloe Kim
Chloe Kim is a snowboarder from California. She’s only 17 years old and has won three consecutive X Games gold medals. During the 2015-16 season, she was the first woman to land back-to-back 1080s and score a perfect 100.
2. Adam Rippon
Rippon, a figure skater from Pennsylvania, has been skating since he was ten years old. He just missed out on the Olympics in both 2010 and 2014 and almost gave up on the sport! He made a comeback, and at 28, he’s older than many of his competitors, so this was possibly his last chance to make the Olympic team. Rippon is also the first openly gay American to qualify for the Winter Olympics, and he’s excited to be a role model for gay athletes across the country.
3. Mikaela Shiffrin
Shiffrin is only 22, but she already has 41 World Cup race wins in alpine skiing. In 2014, she was the youngest athlete in history to win an Olympic gold medal in slalom. She’s a favorite to win gold medals in multiple categories in PyeongChang.
4. Jamie Greubel Posner
This Cornell alumnus (!!!) is headed to the Olympics for the second time. In 2014, she won the bronze medal in bobsledding and took home the bronze medal at the most recent world championship. Go Big Red!
5. Maame Biney
Only 17, Biney’s performance at the Olympic trials was explosive and extremely impressive, especially in the 500m race. It’s been a while since the US has had a star in women’s short-track speed skating, but Biney could bring a surprise medal home. She’s only the second African-born athlete to compete for the US in the Winter Olympics and is the first African-American woman to make the speed skating team for the United States.
6. Gus Kenworthy
Kenworthy won the silver in slopestyle skiing in Sochi and is hoping to continue his success this year. Qualifying for the Olympics after Rippon, he’s the second openly gay male athlete to qualify for the US in the Winter Olympics. Last Olympics, he hadn’t come out yet, so Kenworthy is proud to be out this year and increase representation of the LGBTQA+ community in athletics.
7. Nathan Chen
Nathan Chen is the United States’ best chance at Olympic gold in figure skating, and this season is the only undefeated male figure skater in the world. He’s also the only skater to ever land five different quadruple jumps in international competition and the first skater to land five quadruple jumps in one program. Chen has had an impressive career; hopefully he adds an Olympic medal to his list of accolades.
8. Erin Hamlin
The United States has always struggled to medal in luge, so when Erin Hamlin won the bronze in singles luge in 2014, it was a very special moment. With that medal, she became the first female American to medal in luge at the Olympics and the first American to medal in singles luge at the Olympics. Hamlin is retiring after this year, so be sure to watch potentially the greatest American luger of all time.
The opening ceremony for the PyeongChang Winter Olympics will start at 6:00 AM EST on February 9. NBC will have all the Olympic coverage, so you can watch the games on television or stream all your favorite events online at NBCOlympics.com.