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2018 Winter Olympics Team USA Preview and Controversies

What to know before watching the Olympics on February 9

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With just a little under a month until the opening ceremonies, the world is watching Pyeongchang, South Korea as it prepares to host the Winter Olympics for the first time since 1988. The event is expected to be an extravaganza, but not without a few bumps in the road. Here’s a look at some of the controversies surrounding the 2018 Olympic Games.

Controversies. 

It should come at no surprise that Russia is involved in one of the biggest scandals of the Olympics. After a significant number of Russian athletes, including medal winners, failed to pass drug testing after the 2014 Sochi Games, Russia was banned by the International Olympic Committee for competing in the 2018 Games. On January 10, the Russian hacking group ‘Fancy Bears’ hacked the IOC and the World Anti-Doping Agency emails in retaliation for their ban.

Another major controversy is the threat of American athletes being so close to North Korea in a time of extreme tension between the two countries. Pyeongchang, which is around 210 miles from the North Korean border, will also host North Korean athletes, which is fairly significant given the longtime hatred between North and South Korea. US Ambassador to the UN, Nikki Haley, expressed her concern for US athletes on December 7, saying that it was an “open question” whether or not they would be sending athletes. The White House later debunked her statements and said, “The United States is looking forward to participating in the Winter Olympics in the Republic of Korea.” Case closed. Kind of.

Chloe Kim after winning the X Games. Photo from the xgames.espn.com

A Look at Team USA. 

Team USA consistently produces some of the best athletes in the Olympics and is always one of the top medal winners. In 2014, they won a somewhat disappointing 28 medals and are hoping to do better this time around. Here’s a look at some of Team USA’s athletes hoping to bring home the gold this year.

Nathan Chen: First-time Olympian, 18 year old Nathan Chen is a favorite for gold in men’s figure skating. According to his website, he lists the 2017 Grand Prix Final Champion, two-time US Junior Champion, and two-time US Champion as a few of his many accomplishments. Last year, he “became the first male figure skater ever to land five quadruple jumps in a single performance” (People).

Gus Kensworthy: 2014 slopestyle silver medalist Gus Kensworthy is one to watch at the 2018 Olympics. The freestyle skier is one of America’s best, and people have high hopes for him this time around. He is hoping to be the first Olympian to medal in both halfpipe and slopestyle. He has been ranked #1 in the Association of Freeskiing Professionals (AFP) seven years in a row, and is one of the United States’ best athletes heading into the Games.

Chloe Kim: 17 year old Chloe Kim is the next big thing in the snowboarding world. She was too young to compete in 2014, even though she most likely would’ve qualified, but is the gold medal favorite for women’s halfpipe. The official Team USA website lists her achievements as “3-time X Games halfpipe gold medalist” and “2-time Burton U.S. Open halfpipe champion.” The up and coming athlete is expected to do great things in South Korea.

Mikaela Shiffrin: Shiffrin made headlines in 2014 when she won the gold in slalom skiing at Sochi at 18 years old. She’s back and is ready to bring home a few medals. She has won nine of her last ten races and is virtually unstoppable. In a tweet from ESPN’s Paul Carr, he said, “Mikaela Shiffrin now has 41 World Cup wins before turning 23…Lindsey Vonn won seven World Cup races before age 23.”

Despite the 14 hour time difference between Pyeongchang and New York, US viewers will be able to watch the Games live instead of on replay. If you want to watch the Opening Ceremonies on February 9, be sure to wake up bright and early because it’ll be aired at 6:00 am EST! Sophomore Caitlyn Walsh, a big fan of the Winter Olympics, said, “The spirit of the Olympic Games is everything this divided country needs right about now.” Let the games begin!

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2018 Winter Olympics Team USA Preview and Controversies