As if the Super Bowl didn’t make the beginning of 2018 exciting enough, it’s almost time for the 2018 Winter Olympics! No matter how much you want to root for team USA, it’s hard to catch every competition. To help you sort through the 600+ hours of Olympics coverage, we’ve picked out some of the top 2018 Olympic athletes to watch this year.
1. Jamie Anderson, slopestyle snowboard
Jamie Anderson was the first Olympic gold medalist in slopestyle snowboarding, making history in Sochi. She was also the youngest X Games medalist, scoring a bronze medal when she was 15. With 13 X Games medals and one Olympic gold under her belt, we’re expecting big things from her in PyeongChang.
2. Lowell Bailey, biathlon
Lowell Bailey didn’t medal last Winter Olympics, but he’s the first American to win a biathlon world championship. While he’ll have tough competition from several European athletes, we’re holding out hope that Bailey will be the first American to bring home the gold in a biathlon event.
3. Heather Bergsma, long track speed skating
Winner of twelve World Cup medals and the current world recorder holder in the 2 x 500 meters and 1500 meters, we think Heather Bergsma has a golden future ahead of her. Speed skating is also one of the most fast-paced sports of the Winter Olympics, so tune in for the thrills and to cheer Bergsma to the gold.
4. Maame Biney, short track speed skating
Maame Biney is notable not just because she’s an Olympian, or just because she won bronze at the world junior championship, but also because she’s the first black woman to qualify for a US Olympic speedskating team. Oh, and have we mentioned she’s only 18 years old?
5. Mikaela Shiffrin, alpine skiing
At the age of 22, Mikaela Shiffrin is hoping to become the first American woman to win three medals in skiing at one Olympics. She will be competing in slalom, giant slalom, alpine, downhill, and super-G, and is a medal favorite for the first three events.
6. Maddie Bowman, freestyle skiing
Maddie Bowman is one of the most decorated female freeskiers in history, including one Olympic gold and seven X Games medals. Her runs are amazing displays of athletic prowess – in 2016, she was the first female skier to throw a 900 switch. You can’t miss Bowman’s events and seemingly inevitable gold win.
7. Karen Chen, figure skating
Karen Chen finished fourth at the world championships last year and won bronze at the US championships this year, so Chen is already very comfortable with medals. Fellow skaters and the media have dubbed her the “quiet assassin” for her stealth and stature, so she’s clearly an Olympic athlete to watch this year.
8. Nathan Chen, figure skating
Nathan Chen – no relation to Karen – is the only undefeated male skater in the world. So our expectations are pretty high, but not without good reason! Here’s hoping that Chen will bring home America’s first gold in the individual figure skating competition since 1992.
9. Jordan Greenway, hockey
Jordan Greenway is a standout star on the men’s hockey team and he’s only a college junior! He’s also the first African-American on a US Olympic hockey team, and he was drafted into the NHL – three years ago. Talk about an overachiever, even amongst the other admirable 2018 Olympic athletes.
10. John Shuster, curling
Wouldn’t be the Winter Olympics without a mention of curling! John Shuster is one of the best in the nation, and he’s been to a curling-record-breaking four Olympics. We’re also excited just because curling is so weird, and yet so fun to watch.
Honestly, though, no matter which of the 2018 Olympic athletes you’re rooting, the Olympics are always a delight! The Olympics start on February 9th, and you can catch all the live coverage on NBCUniversal on Sling.