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12 Badass Female Athletes to Watch at the Pyeongchang 2018 Winter Olympics

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

 

Doing what I love most #teamusa #roadtopyeongchang #athlete

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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

 

smileeeee

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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

 

What a weekend!! I’m still in awe that I’m going to the Olympics!! I want to start off by thanking God. I am so sure that none of this would have happened if it wasn’t for him. If God hadn’t given my dad the strength to wake up, and take me to practice, I wouldn’t be here today. I also want to thank God for giving me the passion to do this. Daddy. I know that I can be a pain at times and not appreciate what you’ve done for me. I do appreciate you. When I’m older I want to be just like you. Wanting to help people, having an amazing heart, being dedicated, and being the best parent ever. Scratching the surface to any one of those things would already make me a great person. Thank you for letting me push myself, Werid, right? But it worked. And b/c of you, I will keep pushing myself. Hehe I love you Daddy This one is to my host family. Letting me stay with you guys for 6 months have been amazing! You guys have really made me feel like part of your family! Mrs. Melissa, you really have been a mother to me and I will forever love you and keep you close to my heart. Mr. Robert, hehe thank you for those Cafe Rio tripsAnd Abby. I’m so happy that I’ve been able to become your big sister. Love you guys always and foreverThis one goes out to the whole skating community! You guys have made a huge impact on my dad and I. @dominionspeedskating I love you guys tons! We’ve been through so much together. Tears, laughter, and everything in between. I honestly can’t thank everyone who has helped us b/c there’s SOO many people. You guys know who you aremuch loveThis last one is to my friends (from school) who got that I couldn't do anything b/c I had a goal. I’m so happy that you guys didn’t abandon me. I love how you guys tried to understand. It really means a lot to me. Also, to my church family for praying for me for years!! Without your prayers for safe travels and successful competitions I honestly don’t believe that my dad and I would have made it this far It’s been an amazing journey and I can’t wait to see what happens!! Hehe I’m super excited to go to PyeongChang, Korea and represent USA with the rest of the team!!

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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

 

7 races. 3 countries. 9 days. LET’S GO! #tourdeski : @jessevaananen

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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.

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