The Winter Olympics start this Thursday, and the first major sport competitions are figure skating. As a huge fan of figure skating, I felt like that before one sits down at watches the competitors, perhaps having a little background on each one can help make the event more entertaining.
There are four categories within the figure skating competitions: Men’s skating, Women’s skating, Ice Dance, and Pair Skating. The United States sent 10 teams to Pyeonchang this Olympics. The number that is decided for how many competitors would be sent was decided at the 2017 World Figure Skating Championship this past March and April. Depending on how many skaters made it into the top 10, it made the decision on how many competitors would be sent to the Olympics by country. 3 is the max number that can be sent and 1 the minimum, this excludes the wild card countries that compete for qualification that did not compete at the championships. The United States after the Championships is sending 3 women’s skaters, 3 men’s skater, 3 ice dancing teams, and 1 pair skating team.
Here’s Team USA folks.
Women’s Figure Skating:
Bradie Tennell (20)l: Bradie Tennell is the current U.S Champion. This current season was her second year in the senior division, in which she took the Bronze medal in her first Senior Grand Prix Series competition. At Nationals, Tennell took the gold by a huge surprise knocking another Olympic hopeful, Ashley Wagner, off the podium.
Mirai Nagusu (24): This will be Nagusu’s second Olympics, after her first at the 2010 Vancouver Olympics. She placed 2nd at Nationals this year, but has continuously been on the podium (7-time U.S National Medalist, 2 time Four Continents, etc.) Mirai Nagusu was controversially left off the Olympic Team in 2014 after her 2nd place finish at Nationals. She is the eighth woman to land a triple axel in International competition.
Karen Chen (18): Currently ranking as 8 on the world standing, Chen was the 2017 U.S National Champion and is competing in her third senior division season. Chen at the 2017 World Championships placed fourth and has placed third in multiple international competitions (Grand Prix). Karen Chen is considered one of the USA’s hopefuls for a spot on the Olympic podium.
Men’s Figure Skating:
Nathan Chen (18): Nathan Chen is the two-time reigning U.S National Champion. Nathan Chen is considered one of the top figure skaters, next to Yuzuru Hanyu, Shoma Uno, Patrick Chan, and Javier Fernandez. Nathan Chen is currently the only and first skater to be competing with 5 different types of Quadruple jumps. Nathan Chen is the American hopeful for the Olympic Gold.
Vincent Zhou (17): Zhou is a two-time medalist at the U.S National Championships. He is the 2017 World Junior Champion and a two-time medalist at International Competitions. Zhou missed the silver medal at the 2018 U.S Nationals, by a 0.68 point difference. Zhou was consistently a medalist in the Junior Division and has medaled multiple times in his time competing in the senior division.
Adam Rippon (28): Adam Rippon is the oldest out of all the single’s figure skaters. He was the 2016 U.S. National Champion and placed fourth at the 2018 National Championships. Rippon, after suffering injury, made a comeback these past two seasons earning spot to compete inthe Grand Prix Final and finished in 6th and 5th . Rippon is also the first openly gay Winter Olympian for Team USA.
Madison Chock and Evan Bates (Chock/Bates): This Olympics will be Madison Chock’s third appearance, and a second for Evan Bates. Chock and Bates teamed up before the 2011-2012 season and quickly rose up and earned a spot on the 2014 Olympic team, where they placed 8th. The team has consistently been on the podium and have been on the US National podium for the past 6 seasons. In addition, the duo, are two-time silver medalists at the Grand Prix Final and two-time medalists at the World Championships.
Maia and Alex Shibutani (Shib Sibs): This ice dance team is a brother-sister combo. Maia and Alex rose quickly to the top as soon as they entered the senior division. This duo is the third Ice Dance team from the U.S. to have three world medals. The Shibs Shibs have medaled at the U.S championships for eight consecutive seasons and in the entirety of their senior competition have 15 Grand Prix medals. This is their second Olympics, after in Sochi the duo placed ninth.
Madison Hubbell and Zachary Donohue (Hubbell/Donohue): Hubbell and Donohue is starting their first Olympic appearance after just missing the 2014 Olympic team by one spot. The duo has been on the podium for U.S National Championship since their teaming up in 2011; however, this season, the duo finally obtained their first U.S National Title. The duo placed ninth at the 2017 World Championships and have won one gold Grand Prix medal
Alexa Scimeca-Knierm and Chris Knierm (Knierm/Knierm): The married pair skating couple is the United States’s only pair skating team to be sent to the Olympics. The duo are two-time U.S. National Champions; however, after their 2015 win, Alexa suffered from a severe illness that left the duo out of completion before returning to the Four Continents Skating Competition in 2017. They are also the first married pair skating couple from the USA since 1998.