As of Friday, Dec. 8, the 2018 Winter Olympics in PyeongChang, South Korea are officially just two months away. Competition at the games officially begins on Feb. 8, with the Opening Ceremony on Feb. 9. As we're getting closer to the 2018 games, people are looking out for the top contenders. So, for your pump-up pleasure, here are the top 10 women to watch at the Winter Olympics from the United States. Just keep in mind: Qualifications are still going on through January, so these athletes still need to compete to secure their role on Team USA.
United Nations Ambassador Nikki Haley cast some doubt on the U.S.'s participation in the PyeongChang Games, but White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders confirmed on Thursday, Dec. 7 that America "looks forward to participating in the Winter Olympics in South Korea." Haley spoke about security concerns, given the proximity to North Korea, but Sanders clarified that "we are engaged with the South Koreans and other partner nations to secure the venues."
So now that that's apparently settled, go on, get hyped!
1. Mikaela Shiffrin, Alpine Skiing
Although she's only 22 years old, Shiffrin's a solid pro when it comes to the Olympics. She won the gold in Sochi in 2014 on slalom and came in 5th on the giant slalom. And oh yeah, that gold made her the youngest athlete ever to win an Olympic gold in slalom. At this point, she's won 31 career world cups, which is the second-most cups won by an American woman (behind rockstar Lindsey Vonn... who's won 77).
Shiffrin has some fun, of course, in addition to training, as her Instagram proves. She dabbles in some music — including guitar and piano — and she's also got some juggling skills. You'll definitely want to look out for her as February approaches.
2. Chloe Kim, Snowboarding
If you've caught any NBC ads for PyeongChang, you probably already know Kim's name. The 17-year-old (no, yeah, she was born in 2000) will be making her first Olympic appearance in PyeongChang, should she get past qualifications. She does women's halfpipe, which is obviously just a really cool thing to do. Kim's parents are from South Korea and she speaks Korean, so these games would be a sweet visit for her, on top of all the competition.
3. Ashley Wagner, Figure Skating
OK, I gotta show my hand here: I love Ashley Wagner, and you need to follow her on Instagram immediately. For years people have been telling Wagner she's too old to compete (she's 26, people!!!) and she's been striking the haters down with her openly competitive nature and talent. Also, she's a Taurus like me, so of course I love her. She withdrew from the long program at Skate America in late November, but she said it was just because of an ankle infection, and she's still looking to qualify for the Olympics.
4. Maia Shibutani, Ice Dancing
Shibutani, 23, competes alongside her brother Alex, which is pretty cute, no? At their Olympic debut in Sochi, they placed ninth, and in 2017, they won their third world championships medal. They're definitely a pair to watch. Maia and Alex are known as the ShibSibs, and they actually have their own YouTube channel to show off what they're up to.
5. Maggie Voisin, Freestyle Skiing
Uh, you guys, slopestyle — what Voisin does — is wild. It's basically skateboarding, but on skis. Halfpipe and slopestyle were first introduced to the Olympics in 2014, so now Voisin's coming in to try and solidify the sport's place at the Olympics. In 2014, she was the youngest athlete, at 15 years old. to make Team USA since 1972, but unfortunately she broke her angle during training so didn't get to compete. You can bet she's coming back for redemption.
6. Aja Evans, Bobsledding
Now, the women's Nigerian bobsled team has been getting all the attention since becoming the first athletes to qualify for the Winter Olympics ever from Nigeria. Which, fair. But while you're watching the Nigerian team, keep an eye out for Aja Evans on Team USA. The 29-year-old was formerly a track star in college before finding bobsled, and her strength and speed have made her an incredible and vital part of the team.
7. Jamie Anderson, Snowboarding
Like Voisin, Anderson, 27, does slopestyle, but over on snowboard, as well as big air. So, you know, she does the really cool stuff. Anderson is coming off a gold medal in slopestyle at Sochi, so eyes will be on her coming into February to see how she picks up. As the fifth of eight children, Anderson knows how to get seen... with epic tricks.
8. Brenna Huckaby, Snowboarding
Ready for some feelings? Huckaby, 21, was a competitive gymnast until she was diagnosed with bone cancer in 2010. Because of the cancer, Huckaby, who was born in Louisiana, had to have her leg amputated. After the surgery, she moved to Salt Lake City, Utah, and started snowboarding as an adaptive athlete. She took a quick lil competition break in 2016 because she was pregnant with her daughter, but she's back and ready for action in the Paralympic Games.
9. Hilary Knight, Ice Hockey
Knight — and the women's national hockey team — has had what many of us would call a hell of a year. In March, following the women's national soccer team's lead, the hockey team threatened to boycott the world championship tournament over a fight for equal pay and fair wages. The women's team and USA Hockey managed to reach a deal just a day before championships began... and then the U.S. team won the world championship. The winning goal? Scored by Knight in overtime.
10. Jessie Diggins, Cross-Country Skiing
Aside from being just an absolute delight, Diggins, 26, is a super fast skier. She competed in Sochi and is sprinting on towards PyeongChang in 2018. Her nickname among her teammates is Diggs, and she's got one of the most positive outlooks on life you'll see. Look out for her over the next two months — just don't blink, or you'll miss her pass by!
This is just a small sampling of the American women to look out for in the Winter Olympics. I don't know about you, but I can't wait for February.
Learn more at Teamusa.org. The Winter Olympics begin Feb 8.