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Winter Olympics Offer Thrills and Spectacle

Courtesy of Wikimedia Photo Commons

Courtesy of Wikimedia Photo Commons

Ryan Hoak, Staff Writer

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The 2018 PyeongChang Winter Olympics are off to a great start and should only get better with the amazing group of athletes participating. The USA team is comprised of 244 athletes in total, broken down into 135 men and 109 women. This is the largest delegation in the history of the Winter Olympics.

The team is representing 31 states from all over the U.S. with most athletes, 31 specifically, coming from Colorado, and the second most, 22, coming from California. Within the team there are 103 returning Olympians, while the other 141 will be competing for the first time. Of the returning athletes there are three five time Olympians, 37 medalists, 10 Olympic champions, and five defending gold medalists from the previous 2014 winter Olympics in Sochi.

` Our delegation is also made up of a wide range of attendees ranging in age, some being siblings and others being in romantic relationships. The U.S. team’s oldest athlete is Brian Gionta at age 39; Gionta is the captain of the men’s hockey team. Then there is figure skater Vincent Zhou, who is the youngest attendee at only 17 years old. The team also has seven sets of siblings, one pair of twins being the Lamoureux sisters on the women ice hockey team. There is also the first married couple, the Knieriums, who work together in the figure skating event.

One of the most recent underdogs is  Red Gerard (17), who made an amazing comeback in slopestyle for snowboarding and claiming the gold medal after taking a nasty fall on the run before. Chris Mazder is also the first single man on the US Olympic team to receive a silver medal this year, making quite the improvement in his luge times from just a month ago.

This winter Olympics possess lots of legendary athletes who have changed their sports such as Lindsey Vonn (downhill skiing), Kelly Clark (snowboarding-halfpipe) and Shaun White (snowboarding-halfpipe). Despite all these athletes being some of the best in the world, they are getting older and more young newcomers are entering the sport. There’s Mikaela Shiffrin (22), who earned gold in slalom in 2014 and the world cup title last year. She is expected to get gold in slalom and be on the podium in other sports, as well being one of world’s next best skiers.

Maddie Mastro (17) was on the podium for the halfpipe at the U.S. Open Snowboarding Championship. Also, keep your eye out for Hailey Langland, who won last years X Games in the big air competition. There is also the snowboarding prodigy, Chloe Kim, who won back-to-back titles at the X Games in 2015 and 2016 as well as finishing right behind Kelly Clark.  Some other athletes to take notice of are the speed skater Shani Davis as well as Nathan Chen the figure skater. Both are expected to do well even though Chen has had a rough start and Davis has had some conflicts with the U.S. team.

Some athletes like Bradley Wilson are consulting with past Olympians to get some advice, while others like Erin Hamlin, who walked the flag in for the U.S. team, and Lowell Bailey have turned to technology to analyze their technique and see where they can shave milliseconds off their time. Some other athletes to look out for are Joey Mantia the speed skater, who won the world championship last year, and Jamie Greubel who is ranked as the top bobsledder in the world.

There is a lot talent and energy going around in this year’s Olympics, and will make for interesting medalists since the competition from other nations is very skilled as well.

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Winter Olympics Offer Thrills and Spectacle