Top 10 stars you should look out for

Bradley Piros, Courier Staff

When it comes to the Olympics, many people anticipate the summer games, and tend to forget about the winter events, while others just don’t care as much for whatever reason. Either way, whenever the Olympics finally return every two years, alternating between summer and winter, I’m absolutely glued to the tv and cheering on the U.S.A. the entire time. So, with that, here are my top ten U.S. athletes to look out for in the 2018 PyeongChang Winter Olympics.

Quick Honorable Mention: U.S. Women’s Hockey Team

10. Gus Kenworthy – Kenworthy might not be the most decorated Olympic athlete, but he still did manage to pick up a silver medal at the 2014 Sochi games in the skiing slopestyle event, but can also compete in the super pipe. He’s an all-around versatile skier, but it’s what he did outside of skiing that stands out. In 2015, he came out as gay during an interview with ESPN. Since then, a huge weight has been lifted off his shoulders, and he is ready to get back into competition for his country.

9. Ashley Wagner – Going into these games as an alternate for the figure skating team, she definitely has something to prove. She competed in Sochi and picked up a bronze medal there, as well as competed with her team. She is listed as an alternate because figure skating is more forgiving to younger athletes, but this 26-year-old won’t let anything get in her way. This year, it’s not certain if she’ll compete, but if she does, you won’t want to miss it.

8. Adam Rippon – For a while, this 28-year-old has strived to compete with the national team, and this year he’ll finally appear in his first Olympic games. But what makes him such an interesting story is that he is the first openly gay American athlete to qualify for the Winter Olympics, which is an honor all on its own. He was also born deaf and underwent many surgeries before his first birthday. He can hear perfectly now, and he’s coming into these games with a chip on his shoulder as he seeks a medal in figure skating.

7. Alex and Maia Shibutani – This brother-sister figure skating duo has been lighting it up in competition recently, as they’ve won medals at the U.S. Championships for 13 straight years. This is only their second Olympic games together, as they competed in Sochi just four years ago but finished ninth. They’ve gotten better since then and look to come out and put on a show to hopefully capture Olympic gold.

6. Nathan Chen – This 18-year-old will be competing in his first Olympic Games, but he’s been doing terrific things as of last year. He captured gold in both the ISU Grand Prix Final as well as the Four Continents Championships, being the youngest person to do so. It’s no question that he knows how to win so let’s see if he can keep things rolling when he competes this year.

5. Mikaela Shiffrin – At just 22 years old, this will already be her second Olympic games appearance. Last time around in 2014 she took over for injured superstar Lindsey Vonn, as she finished with a gold medal in the skiing slalom event. Keep an eye on her and Vonn as they look to go back-to-back gold and silver.

4. Chloe Kim – Chloe is probably one of the main athletes I’ll be watching. This is her first Olympic games, as she’s only 17, but don’t let those things fool you. She’s got five X – Games medals, three gold, silver, and bronze; all in the snowboarding super pipe event. Last year she competed in the FIS World Cup and came in first place in the half pipe event and 6 th overall. She might not have any Olympic medals under her belt, but it’s only a matter of time before she’s the next Shaun White.

3. Jamie Anderson – This snowboarding all-star has 11 X – Games medals to her name. She’s a two-time Olympian, winning gold in the inaugural women’s snowboarding slopestyle event in Sochi. Since then, she has won the 2017 FIS World Cup and looks to pick up another medal for her country this year.

2. Shaun White – At 31 years old, many thought this guy wasn’t going to make it to the 2018 Winter Olympics. Most people thought he was going to hang it up in Sochi and call it a career, but here he is four years later, continuing to get better. White is by far my favorite snowboarder of all time. I watched him score a perfect score in the men’s snowboard super pipe, pulling off his signature double “McTwist” 1260. If you’ve never seen this trick, I encourage you to go find it, because it is truly worth watching over and over. White was the first to get a perfect score, and first to win medals in both the summer and winter X – Games. He’s got 12 X – Games gold medals and two Olympic one’s to go along. Watch out for him in the men’s super-pipe events.

1. Lindsey Vonn – I brought her up earlier because she was born a skiing prodigy. Now Vonn is known for her remarkable comeback stories throughout the years. In 2013 she was competing in the FIS Alpine Skiing World Championships in Austria. She was on track for a record-breaking run, when she lost all control, flew off a jump, completely miss-timed, and tore her ACL and MCL on impact. The video is gruesome if you ever stumble upon it, but that’s not the point. The point is she came back stronger because of that injury and continues to compete at the age of 33. She’s a four-time Olympian, competing in 2002, 2006, 2010, and 2018, missing out on 2014 because of the injury. She last struck the podium in 2010 in Vancouver with a gold medal in downhill skiing, but can also compete in slalom events as well as the Super-G. She wants to cap off a tremendous career with gold in 2018.