Real talk: It's hard to become emotionally invested in Winter Olympic athletes. Apart from figure skating, the sports involve bulky helmets and other equipment that hide the competitors' faces, and I've always found that these factors prevent me from easily recognizing and relating to the athletes. I cried when the Fierce Five gymnastics team won gold at the 2012 Summer Olympics, but I'd draw a blank if you asked me for a tear-jerking moment from the Winter Olympics. Luckily, it's 2018, and we have a never-ending resource to learn more about athletes: Social media! If you want to know the faces behind some of these gravity-defying athletes, here's how to follow the 2018 Snowboarding Olympics team on Instagram.
Jamie Anderson: Ladies' Slopestyle Event
27-year-old Jamie emerged from the 2014 Sochi Olympics with a gold medal in the slopestyle, which the official PyeongChang 2018 page explains as a course on which snowboarders compete with their choice of rails, tables, boxes, walls, and jump pads. The athletes are judged on the height and rotations of their snowboarding jumps, as well as their technique and how difficult the routine is. Jamie has plenty of experience with the event, raking up first and second place career wins, among other victories, in it.
If you look at her Instagram account @jamieanderson, Jamie shares plenty of insight into her Olympics prep, including epic GoPro footage of her cruising down the slopes. She also maintains her mental health in the face of stress, posting a photo with a caption emphasizing a yin-yang balance.
She also has a partnership with Kettle Brand chips, so we don't have to feel bad about pigging out on snacks while watching her compete.
Chris Corning: Men's Slopestyle & Big Air Events
This Colorado native is only 18 and relatively green when it comes to career experience. In the 2016 FIS Junior World Championships, he placed first in both of his future Olympic events, showing huge potential at a young age. The Big Air competition requires a snowboarder to ride down a hill, launch off jumps, and then successfully complete tricks while afloat. Meanwhile, I can barely walk without tripping on air.
Like his teammates, Chris's Instagram account, @chriscorning, has endless evidence of his snow bunny tendencies.
Anyone who willingly launches off hills for a living is adventurous, but Chris's lust for life doesn't end on the slopes. He was recently in New Zealand to celebrate his birthday and bungee jumped in honor of the big day.
Chris also seems game for making fun of himself, including the hashtag #whotheFischriscorning in his Instagram bio. Well, if you follow his account, you definitely won't be asking that during the games.
Ben Ferguson: Men's Halfpipe Event
Also an Olympic newbie, Ben is now the token athlete I compare myself to because we're the same age. It's totally logistical to size yourself up to an Olympic athlete when you don't have a sporty bone in your body, right?
Snowboarding is definitely a major part of Ben's family, as his younger brother Gabe is also a snowboarder. Although Ben's Instagram, @ben_ferguson, suggests that his life totally revolves around the sport, the guy also has a creative side. He shared a photo of himself with filmmaker Tyler Orton when the two released their short film Hail Mary, which documents a year in the life of Ben as a professional snowboarder.
If you need more proof of his artistic side, shots like this are totally enough for me:
Red Gerard: Men's Big Air & Slopestyle Events
Red started snowboarding when he was only 2 years old, and after finishing in first place in the slopestyle at the 2017 FIS World Cup, he's definitely one to watch. As the youngest snowboarder on the U.S. team, he's totally the class clown, sharing vintage footage of snowboarding icon and teammate Shaun White on his page @redgerard.
He's also likely a Stranger Things fan, posting a photo with star Gaten Matarazzo. And, yes, Red looks young enough to easily be one of the Stranger Things kids himself.
Faye Gulini: Ladies' Snowboard Cross Event
25-year-old Faye makes her third Olympic appearance this year, previously competing in the snowboard cross event, which has teams of four to six athletes performing different techniques as they race down a path. In Sochi, she just missed the podium by placing fourth in the snowboard cross, so hopes of a medal are high for her this time around.
In November, Faye honored her friend, physical therapist Eric Dube, when he unexpectedly died of an unknown heart condition. Eric was confirmed to work with Team USA's physical therapy squad in South Korea, and Faye wrote in her Instagram tribute, "I couldn't wait to share our Olympic dream together. There is no person on the planet that I would rather experience that with."
I think we can expect to see Faye deliver an extra fiery performance at the Olympics in honor of Eric.
Lindsey Jacobellis: Ladies' Snowboard Cross Event
Lindsey made her Olympic debut in 2006, winning a silver medal, and has appeared in every Winter Games since. She's a five-time world champion and a 10-time X Games gold medalist, so maybe now is her time to find more success at the Olympics.
Given that she's traveled to the Olympics with Faye before, it's no surprise that Lindsey shared photos of her recent hangout with her fellow snowboard cross competitor and former Olympic hopeful Rosie Mancari.
She also has an adorable dog named Gidget. Are pets allowed in Olympic Village?
Chloe Kim: Ladies' Halfpipe Event
According to NBC Olympics, Chloe was statistically valid to compete at the 2014 Olympics, but was only 13 at the time. If the now-17-year-old had been allowed to participate, she still would've been considered a major threat in the halfpipe event. Now going into PyeongChang, Chloe has a likely chance at snatching up gold, and you can follow her attempts @chloekimsnow.
The U.S. snowboarding team is already bonding, and Chloe spent some time with her male equivalent Shaun White, who begins his fourth Olympics next month.
She also has a thing for puppies, but don't we all?
Jake Pates: Men's Halfpipe Event
Jake won gold medals in the halfpipe and slopestyle at the 2016 Youth Championship, providing him with some great experience for the Olympics. He also skateboards, which must play off well on the halfpipe course, as it requires snowboarders to crisscross across a ramp before performing jumps.
Based on his Instagram @jakepates, he also has the steady support of his mother for competitions.
Shaun White: Men's Halfpipe Event
Shaun's name is the most recognizable on the U.S. snowboarding roster, having two Olympic gold medals and holding the record for most X Games golds. He recently appeared on Jimmy Kimmel Live and discussed how he was born with the same heart condition as Kimmel's infant son.
Now 31 and with plenty of exposure to the public, Shaun's Instagram @shaunwhite is a bit more polished than his teammates', but posts equally genuine content.
Before he even qualified to go to South Korea, Shaun posted a throwback photo from the Sochi Games. Clearly, his Olympic return was meant to be.
With veteran competitors and fresh rookies representing the U.S. in snowboarding, I think we can expect strong American performances in PyeongChang.
To learn more, visit teamusa.org. The Winter Olympics will air live starting Feb. 8.