Not only is Lindsey Vonn one of the world's most decorated ski racers, she's also one of the most injured. After crashing in the 2013 World Championships and tearing ligaments in her knee, Vonn had to skip the Sochi Olympic Games, working instead as a correspondent for NBC. Vonn's comeback was slow and steady, but this season she's made a return to her best, culminating with back-to-back wins in the final two World Cups before PyeongChang. Watch for Vonn to make her mark in the speed events, where two gold medals are not out of the question.
Shaun White's days of dominating halfpipe snowboarding are as distant as the flowing locks that once earned him the nickname The Flying Tomato. A rare winter athlete that transcended his sport, White won gold in Torino and Vancouver, only to flame out in Sochi and leave snowboarding behind in favor of bigger and better things, most notably touring with his band. The music career didn't exactly pan out, and now the erstwhile tomato is back to reclaim his crown as snowboarding's top dog. At 31, White is a veritable geriatric in this gravity-defying sport dominated by agile whippersnappers, but having just punched his ticket to PyeongChang last month with a perfect score at the U.S. Grand Prix, the California native proves he has plenty left in his bag of tricks.
If the 2016 Rio Summer Olympics belonged to breakout star Simone Biles, then PyeongChang is on the brink of belonging to another American teenager: Nathan Chen. As the reigning U.S., Four Continents, and Grand Prix Final champion, the 17-year old from Salt Lake City, Utah, comes into these Games as the odds on favorite for Gold. And for good reason. At the 2017 U.S. National Championships, Chen became the first-ever man to land five quadruple jumps in one performance, causing him to become a household name.
A former collegiate softball star, Elana Meyers Taylor now ranks as one of the most decorated women in bobsled history, capturing the bronze medal in Vancouver 2010 and the Silver in Sochi 2014. She'll look to go one better in PyeongChang. With four World Championship titles to her credit, it's a result that's entirely within her reach. Meyers Taylor's biggest moment, however, remains the 2013 World Championships, when fellow bobsledder Nic Taylor proposed on the medal podiums.
When she's not dying her hair crazy colors, cheering on her teammates with abandon, or choreographing dance videos, cross-country skier Jessie Diggins is racking up world-class results. Last year, the ebullient Minnesota native collected a silver and a bronze at the World Championships, and just last month she won her first ever World Cup race. Diggins arrives in PyeongChang eager to become the first U.S. woman to win a medal in cross-country.
Gus Kenworthy, the silver medalist at the Sochi Olympics in the slopestyle event, has since proven to be much more than just an athlete. After coming out to the public as gay in 2015, Kenworthy has become one of the most vocal activists for the LGBT community, working with campaigns such as the Trever Project and Happy Hippie Foundation. In 2017, the Human Rights Campaign gave him the Visibility Award for his activism. After he came out, Kenworthy’s success on the slopes skyrocketed; he won two silver X Games medals for slopestyle and halfpipe, and secured a win at the U.S. Grand Prix for slopestyle.
With one Olympic silver and two Olympic bronze medals to his name, not to mention 11 World Championship medals, J.R. Celski's collection is only missing that one elusive piece of hardware: Gold. That's why the Short Track vet is back for his third Olympic Games. Having recovered from serious injuries in the past (including a gashed leg that nearly ended his career), Celski has the head for big events, as well as the legs -- his sub 40-second 500m skate is the current world record.
Mikaela Shiffrin is a once in a blue moon phenom. At age 16, she won the slalom title at the U.S. National Championships. Then, a few weeks shy of her 19th birthday, she became the youngest slalom champion in Olympic history – male or female – by grabbing the gold at the Sochi Games in 2014. In recent years, Shiffrin has broadened from a slalom specialist into a five event skier; this year, she's already nabbed 10 World Cup wins, making her a favorite for multiple medals in PyeongChang.
At only 24 years of age, it's hard to imagine that Mirai Nagasu has actually been winning elite figure skating competitions for 10 years. In 2008, she became U.S. champion at only 14 years of age, and two years later skated her way to fourth-place at the 2010 Olympics. She's only getting better, clinching the silver medal last year at the U.S. International Classic in Salt Lake City, where she became the second American woman to land a triple axel in an international competition, and the seventh woman in history to successfully execute the jump. Nagasu is said to be attempting the triple axel during her PyeongChang Olympic programs, so be sure to keep an eye out for this iconic move.