It’s been almost 4 years since we last saw our winter ski and snowboard favorites represent the US in the biggest competition in the world, the Winter Olympics. This year the event takes place in only a few short weeks in PyeongChang, South Korea, starting on February 9th. In this blog we’re going to cover what you need to know about what and who to watch this year.
Let’s get started with the basics, the range of events covered this year. The 2018 Olympics will bring us events in the areas of biathlon, bobsleigh, curling, ice hockey, luge, skating, and skiing (we checked, snowboarding is considered to be a part of skiing). Since we’re more of the skiing and snowboarding fanatics here, below is a run through of the schedule of events for skiing, snowboarding, cross country skiing, Nordic skiing and ski jumping.
MEN – 6 EVENTS
Men’s 15km + 15km Skiathlon Men’s Sprint Classic
Men’s Team Sprint Free
Men’s 4 × 10km Relay
Men’s 15km Free
Men’s 50km Mass Start Classic
WOMEN – 6 EVENTS
Ladies’ 7.5km + 7.5km Skiathlon Ladies’ Sprint Classic
Ladies’ Team Sprint Free
Ladies’ 4 × 5km Relay
Ladies’ 10km Free
Ladies’ 30km Mass Start Classic
MEN – 3 EVENTS
Men’s Normal Hill Individual
Men’s Large Hill Individual
WOMEN – 1 EVENT
Ladies’ Normal Hill Individual
MEN – 3 EVENTS
Individual Gundersen Normal Hill/10km
Individual Gundersen Large Hill/10km
Team Gundersen Large Hill/4x5km
MEN – 5 EVENTS Men’s Downhill
Men’s Giant Slalom Men’s Slalom
Men’s Alpine Combined
WOMEN – 5 EVENTS Ladies’ Downhill
Ladies’ Giant Slalom Ladies’ Slalom
Ladies’ Alpine Combined
MIXED – 1 EVENT
Alpine Team Event
MEN – 5 EVENTS
Men’s Ski Cross
Men’s Ski HalfpipeC
WOMEN – 5 EVENTS
Ladies’ Ski Cross
Ladies’ Ski Halfpipe
Ladies’ Ski Slopestyle
MEN – 5 EVENTS
Men’s Parallel Giant Slalom Men’s Halfpipe
Men’s Snowboard Cross Men’s Slopestyle
Men’s Big Air
WOMEN – 5 EVENTS
Ladies’ Parallel Giant Slalom
Ladies’ Snowboard Cross
Ladies’ Big Air
If you don’t see your preferred events on the list above, click here for a full rundown of each event for the 2018 Winter Olympics.
Athletes to Watch
Overall, the USA has put together an impressive team this year and the odds are very high for gold medals abound. This may be the first time that a Winter Olympics held outside North America could bring home more golds than anyone else. With Russia dealing with a major doping scandal, Europe also having an away disadvantage for turf, and the new freestyle events catered towards US athletes, it’s shaping up to be an exciting Olympic season.
Let’s start out with the obvious. Shaun White has been a staple among leader-board snowboarders for a long time now, and although he’s coming off of an underwhelming Sochi games where he finished 4th, big changes are planned for this round. First, White has changed coaches to up his game a level. Second, he’s dropped his slope style events to focus only on half pipe this year to hone his skills and bring home the gold.
Since we’re on the topic of snowboarding, let’s continue with Chloe Kim. While Shaun White is the old staple in the shredding world, Chloe Kim is the new face to watch. At only 17, she is already the favorite to take home gold this year and for good reasons. She was the first ever woman to land back to back 1080’s last year, earning her a position at the top of the charts for world rankings. She was also named one of Time Magazine’s 30 most influential teens last year, so keep a sharp eye on this one and just see what she does next.
Another hard-hitter for the alpine ski events, Lindsay Vonn, has become a household name as of late from her continual wins and impressive record in ski racing. She has the most wins under her belt for a female skier, and her 2010 downhill championship puts her in a poised position to take gold this year at the Olympic games. And although she missed the 2014 Sochi games due to a knee injury, she’s now fully recovered and eager to make up for lost time.
Gus Kenworthy is a freestyle skier that made headlines when he came out as gay in 2015, one of only a few athletes to have done so in the sports community. But his legacy and fame go far beyond this achievement, as he proved earning silver at the Sochi games and even more podium spots at the X games. Kenworthy is a major contender for the slope style and half-pipe events, with a half pipe win that came in for him not long ago in the 2015-2016 U.S. Grand Prix.
Jessie Diggins may not be quite as big of a name as some we’ve mentioned, but this cross country skier dominates her sport and is leading the women’s cross country team to PyeongChang this year. The women’s cross country team as a whole has made huge strides this year, with many individuals scoring big in international competitions. Jessie and her teammates may have landed 5th in the standings for the world cup, but it’s worth keeping an eye out for big moves in PyeongChang, as they seem to be getting better by the day.
Let’s go back to the world of alpine skiing with another ski racing name that’s made it big, Mikaela Shiffrin. She made her debut to the world at the Sochi games at just 18 years old, and it made an impact. She is the youngest athlete ever to win a gold medal in slalom skiing (no small feat), and she’s a top contender for at least two medals this year. She currently leads the world cup standings for overall title, and being this young in her career, we expect big things from her.
The above list isn’t all inclusive, so be sure to check out the games and watch all the favs compete this year for the ultimate prize, a big hunk of gold to bring home. Watch out for Maddie Bowman (freestyle skiing), Jamie Anderson (snowboarding), Joss Christensen (freestyle skiing), Bryan and Taylor Fletcher (nordic combined), and Sarah Hendrickson (ski jumping), just to name a few more that are worth keeping an eye on this year.