12 Badass Female Athletes to Watch at the Pyeongchang 2018 Winter Olympics
Team USA is stacked with Olympic newcomers and returning medalists you won't want to miss.
1. Mikaela Shiffrin, Alpine Skiing
At 18, Mikaela Shiffrin was the youngest woman to win her discipline in the 2014 Sochi Winter Olympics-the same race Lindsey Vonn competes in. Now 22, she's currently ranked number one in the world in alpine, or slalom, skiing (a downhill race on a course marked by poles or flags). She'll be back in Pyeongchang to defend her gold medal.
2. Erin Jackson, Speed Skating
Whatever happens in South Korea, Erin Jackson has already made history: The 25-year-old is the first African-American woman to make Team USA's long-track speed skating team. (Long-track speed skating, or just speed skating, unsurprisingly, takes place on a larger rink than short-track speed skating.) What's even cooler about Jackson is the fact that she's only been speed skating for four months-the native of Ocala, FL, was previously an inline skater.
3. Mirai Nagasu, Figure Skating
While Mirai Nagasu did compete in the 2010 Vancouver Winter Olympics (she finished in fourth place), she missed her chance to skate in Sochi in 2014 when she was passed over by the U.S. Figure Skating committee, who chose to bring Ashley Wagner instead. This year, the 24-year-old is primed for the podium: She's the only current female competitor who can land a triple axel.
4. Chloe Kim, Snowboarding
This is not Chloe Kim's first time to earn a spot on Team USA: The snowboarder qualified for the 2014 Olympics in Sochi, but wasn't allowed to compete because she was only 13. Now, at 17, she could become the youngest American to win an Olympic medal in snowboard. Considering the fact that she was a three-time X Game gold medalist by the time she turned 16-and she's one of the only women to consistently land the 1080s (or three spins in the air)-her chances at gold look pretty good.
5. Devin Logan, Freeskiing
In 2014, Devin Logan earned a spot on the first-ever U.S. Olympic Slopestyle Team-and took home a silver medal. This year, she hopes to qualify for the Olympic team in slopestyle and halfpipe (she didn't make the halfpipe team in 2014). The 24-year-old is the only female skier who could potentially compete in two events. If she does medal in both, which is highly likely, she'd be the first skier ever to take home hardware in the two freeskiing events at the Olympics. (Related: Follow These Olympic Athletes On Instagram for Serious Fitness Inspo)
6. Maddie Bowman, Freeskiing
Pyeongchang would be Maddie Bowman's second Olympic Games, and she's hoping for a repeat of her first. In 2014, the then-20-year-old clinched the gold medal in the freeski halfpipe Olympic debut. If she can qualify for Team USA and defend her title, she could become the first two-time female gold-medalist in freeskiing. (Related: Ralph Lauren Just Unveiled the Uniforms for the 2018 Olympic Closing Ceremony)
7. Maia Shibutani, Ice Dancing
Get ready to fall in love with the "Shib sibs": Maia Shibutani and her older brother Alex are coming to fill the ice dancing void left by Meryl Davis and Charlie White. The siblings, who are 23 and 26, started off skating individually, but joined up in 2004. They finished ninth in the 2014 Olympics, but placed first in the 2016 and 2017 national championships, making them a bonafide Olympic threat for 2018.
8. Amanda Kessel, Hockey
Amanda Kessel almost made the 2010 U.S. Women's Olympic hockey team at age 17, but was eventually cut. She did make the 2014 team, though, and helped bring home the silver medal. But a concussion in a pre-Olympic scrimmage almost derailed her post-Sochi career, and kept her off the ice for two whole years. Now, the 26-year-old-who skates for the New York Riveters and is reportedly the highest-paid woman in the National Women's Hockey League-is back on Team USA.
9. Elana Meyers Taylor, Bobsledding
In 2010, Elana Meyers Taylor helped drive Team USA to a bronze medal. In 2014, she piloted her team to a silver medal. Now, she's hungry for gold-and if her team can snag the top spot on the podium, they'll be the first U.S. Olympic women's bobsled team to win since the sport debuted in 2002. At 42, Taylor is considered the sport's fastest driver, so her chances look good. (Related: Olympic Athletes Share Body Confidence Tips)
10. Maame Biney, Speed Skating
Maame Biney is already another history-making Olympian: In December, the 17-year-old swept the 500-meter races to become the first African-American woman to qualify for the U.S. Olympic short-track speed skating team (short-track speed skaters race shorter distances than long-track speed skaters). And she'll be the second African-born athlete (she was born in Ghana) to represent the U.S. at the Winter Olympics.
11. Sarah Hendrickson, Ski Jumping
Sarah Henrickson went into the 2014 Olympics-the first time that women's ski jumping was included-as the World Cup gold medalist. But she tore her MCL and ACL six months before the Games and ended up finishing 21st. She still had bragging rights, though: With bib #1, she was the first woman ever to ski jump in the Olympics. While the 23-year-old is still dealing with knee issues, she won the U.S. Olympic Trials for ski jumping to earn her spot on Team USA.
12. Jessie Diggins, Cross-Country Skiing
In February 2016, Jessie Diggins helped the U.S. bring home three World Championship medals-silver in the individual sprint and bronze in the team sprint-its best performance ever. If she medals in Pyeongchang, she would be the first U.S. woman, and second American ever, to do so.