The 2018 Winter Olympics start this week in PyeongChang, South Korea. With the qualifying races behind them, the teams are set. From Olympic veterans to athletes making their debut on the biggest stage, here some exciting Team USA competitors to watch this month:
1. Nathan Chen (Figure Skating)
Before the games have even started, the face of this 18-year-old athlete has been plastered on commercials for the Winter Olympics. Chen leads America’s men’s figure skating contingent with his history of dazzling performances. In fact, he is the only undefeated male singles figure skater in the world this season.
2. Mirai Nagasu (Figure Skating)
Nagasu brings extra motivation with her to PyeongChang after just missing Team USA’s figure skating squad in Sochi. The 24-year-old skater is the only American women’s singles skater to ever return to the Olympics after missing the previous games, according to TeamUSA.org.
3. Bradie Tennell (Figure Skating)
Tennell, 20, took home the gold medal at the 2018 National Championships and simultaneously secured an unexpected spot to skate in PyeongChang. Tennell’s story has been likened to a certain beloved blonde Disney princess, especially since she skates to music from 2015’s “Cinderella.”
4. Chloe Kim (Snowboarding)
This 17-year-old X Games star will make her long-awaited Olympic debut in PyeongChang. She consistently puts down an exciting run, dominating international competitions. And, she was the first woman—or, girl, I suppose—to land back-to-back 1080s in competition.
5. John-Henry Krueger (Short-Track Speedskating)
This 22-year-old Pennsylvania native missed the 2014 Winter Olympics after getting swine flu the day before his qualifier. But this season, he was dominant in the U.S. Olympic trials in Salt Lake City, securing his place in PyeongChang. His speed and precise short-track technique make him a contender.
6. Erin Jackson (Long-Track Speedskating)
One of the best stories of Team USA for 2018 is Jackson, who just started training as an ice speedskater in 2017! She was a highly decorated inline skater, a sport in which she’s won 11 World Championship medals, but had never tried skating on ice until last year. She qualified for Team USA and is clearly a natural on the frozen surface.
7. Mikaela Shiffrin (Alpine Skiing)
A star in Sochi, Shiffrin is the first alpine skier to win five straight world cups in 20 years and likely won’t settle for just one gold in PyeongChang. She’s aiming for—and could achieve—a historic trifecta of alpine skiing medals.
8. Lindsey Vonn (Alpine Skiing)
American skiing favorite Lindsey Vonn was sidelined by injuries at the 2014 Winter Olympics, but the veteran Olympian is back and making up for lost time. She snagged a World Cup win in December on her way to South Korea.
9. Nick Goepper (Freestyle Skiing)
10. Gus Kenworthy (Freestyle Skiing)
Kenworthy has one Olympic silver medal to his name. However, he has made more headlines as one of only two openly gay athletes competing for Team USA in PyeongChang. He’s a podium contender again as part of a strong U.S. freestyle skiing team.
11. Shaun White (Snowboarding)
One of the all-time snowboarding icons, White, 33, struck halfpipe gold with his signature style in his first two Olympic appearances. After a disappointing performance in Sochi, he told USA Today he’s trained harder than ever for PyeongChang redemption.
12. Jamie Anderson (Snowboarding)
Not only is Anderson, 27, the reigning Olympic gold medalist in slopestyle snowboarding, she’s also the most decorated slopestyle snowboarder in American history. While she returns to defend her title, she will also compete in the exciting new big air event.
13. Kelly Clark (Snowboarding)
Clark, 34, has competed in every Winter Olympics since 2002, earning two bronze medals and one gold. The veteran snowboarder embraces the challenge of competing with newcomers that are literally half her age (see Chloe Kim above).
14/15. Alex & Maia Shibutani (Figure Skating)
Well known on Instagram as @shibsibs, Alex and Maia Shibutani have ice-danced their way to three World Championships medals. They competed at the Sochi games but didn’t medal—a milestone they’d like to reach with a podium spot in PyeongChang.
Best of luck to everyone competing at the 2018 Winter Olympics! Which Team USA athletes are you most excited about?