What’s Big in The 2018 Winter Olympics?

With the 2018 Winter Olympics nearly upon us, everyone is abuzz with patriotism. With the opening ceremony on the ninth, the 2018 Winter Olympics are almost here. From new sports to first-time and returning competitors, here’s what to look forward to.

2018 Winter Olympics

New Sports
The four new sports that were added to this year’s program are big air snowboarding and freestyle skiing, mass start speed skating, and mixed doubles curling.

In big air events, competitors slide down a slope to a large ramp, where they launch themselves into the air to perform complex jumps and flips. Olympians aim for the best height and distance.

Mass start speed skating entails a large group of skaters beginning in a pack, rather than side-by-side, from the same starting line and ending at the same finish line. Positioning depends on the competitors past records.

Mixed doubles curling involves teams of two, a man and a woman, playing with five stones.

Promising Olympians
Several new competitors are joining returning Olympians in this year’s games. Here are a few of both.

18-year-old Nathan Chen has already broken records as the first male figure skater to perform six quadruple jumps in one performance. He currently holds two national titles.

Chloe Kim, at age seventeen, will be entering as a snowboarder. She earned three gold medals at the X Games before age 16, the first athlete to ever do so. She is also the first woman to land back-to-back 1080s, and also to earn a perfect score of 100. She would become the youngest American to pick up a medal in snowboarding if she places.

Adam Rippon will be figure skating here for the first time at age 28. He beat his runner-up status in the 2016 national championships, and has made the podium three times in 2017 international competitions. He is also the first openly gay US athlete to qualify for the Winter Olympics.

Joining Adam as one of the first openly gay male athletes is Gus Kenworthy, a British-born American freestyle skier. He is a one-time Olympic athlete who won silver in the 2014 Sochi Olympics.

Ice dancing pair Alex and Maia Shibutani will be joining Nathan Chen and Adam Rippon on the ice. As two-time US National champions, they are returning skaters who show promise despite placing ninth in the 2014 Sochi Winter Olympics.

One-time Olympic gold medalist snowboarder Jamie Anderson won the first-ever slopestyle competition in Sochi. With a killer record of 12 Winter X Games medals, she returns for the 2018 PyeongChang Games.

Mikaela Shiffrin returns, having been the youngest champion in slalom alpine skiing in history at just 18 years old. The alpine ski racer is also the reining Overall World Cup champion, as well as the reigning Olympic and world champion in slalom.

After winning the national title in 2015 and 2018, Alexa and Chris Knierim will be the sole US figure skating pair representatives at the 2018 Games. They are also the first married couple from the US to make the Olympics in twenty years.

Ashley Wagner, the current oldest US female figure skater at age 26, looks to return as an Olympian for the second time. She won bronze in the 2014 Games, and has also earned nine medals in her sport.

Both 33, Elana Meyers Taylor and Lauren Gibbs make up an intimidating bobsled team. While Taylor is a two-time Olympic medalist, Gibbs is newer. They teamed up after Sochi with Gibbs as the brakeman.

At seventeen years old, Ghana-born short-track speedskater Maame Biney is also the first black woman to become part of the Olympic US speedskater team.

College student Jordan Greenwood is also the first African-American to join a US Olympics team, this time in ice hockey.

Also firsts in their category are three Nigerian-American women who form Africa’s first-ever bobsled team, and also the first African-American representatives in the Winter Olympics. All former track stars, they too hope to take home gold for their country.

And lastly, the Jamaican bobsled team will be returning–but this year, their team is composed of women. They, too, are making history as the first Jamaican women’s bobsleigh team.

Those are our favorites for US gold and a quick summary of the added sports. From America’s finest to people from other nations competing, they are first-timers and world record breakers. Hope to see you at the games!

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