< Go to Homepage

Star Athletes Primed for Success at the 2018 Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang

Sports By
TOPSHOT - This photo taken February 4, 2017 shows the snow sculpture shaped of the Olympic rings at the town of Hoenggye, near the venue for the opening and closing ceremonies for the upcoming Pyeongchang 2018 Winter Olympic Games, in Pyeongchang. / AFP / JUNG Yeon-Je (Photo credit should read JUNG YEON-JeAFP/Getty Images)
This photo taken on February 4, 2017, shows the snow sculpture shaped of the Olympic rings at the town of Hoenggye, near the venue for the opening and closing ceremonies for the upcoming Pyeongchang 2018 Winter Olympic Games, in Pyeongchang. (Jung Yeon-Je/AFP/Getty Images)

 

A year from now, Pyeongchang will host the XXIII Winter Olympics. But before the cauldron is lit, athletes have to battle their way to onto their country’s team roster. While a lot can happen between now and then, there a number of athletes who’ve already singled themselves out as potential stars of the upcoming games. From Olympic veterans to rising stars ready to break out, RealClearLife takes an early look at the athletes that could make it to the podium in 2018.

 

Mikaela Shiffrin

After earning a gold medal in the last Olympics at just 18, Shiffrin is a clear front-runner in alpine skiing, alongside teammate Lindsey Vonn (see below). The young skier has been dominating the slalom this year. The favorite to take her third world championships slalom title, she could also win her first title in giant slalom if the stars align for her in Switzerland. Shiffrin currently leads in the overall World Cup standings.

Mikaela Shiffrin performs at the FIS Alpine Skiing World Cup in Semmering, Austria on December 27, 2016. (Erich Spiess/ASP/Red Bull Content Pool)
Mikaela Shiffrin performs at the FIS Alpine Skiing World Cup in Semmering, Austria on December 27, 2016. (Erich Spiess/ASP/Red Bull Content Pool)

 

 

Lindsey Vonn

If anyone has enough motivation to win, it’s oft-injured Lindsey Vonn. The downhill skier came back from an arm injury back in November to win a bronze at this year’s world championships (she captured gold back in 2009). This has become somewhat of a routine for Vonn, who missed the Sochi games after tearing her ACL in late 2013. The American skier’s most formidable competition comes from Slovenia’s Ilka Stuhec, the new downhill world champion (that is, if they both make it to the games).

Lindsey Vonn seen at the FIS Alpine Skiing Downhill World Cup in Garmisch Partenkirchen, Germany on January 21st, 2017. (Erich Spiess/ASP/Red Bull Content Pool)
Lindsey Vonn seen at the FIS Alpine Skiing Downhill World Cup in Garmisch Partenkirchen, Germany on January 21st, 2017. (Erich Spiess/ASP/Red Bull Content Pool)

 

 

Marcel Hischer

Always a groomsman, but never a groom. The Austrian alpine ski racer has been a dominant force at the men’s World Cup since he first began competing in 2007. Unfortunately for Hischer, he’s been unable to translate his five consecutive titles to that level of success in the Olympics. That said, Hischer won silver in the giant slalom in 2014. He’s the front-runner in the upcoming games for both giant slalom and slalom.

Marcel Hirscher performs at the FIS Alpine Skiing World Cup in Schladming, Austria on January 24, 2017. (Erich Spiess/ASP/Red Bull Content Pool)
Marcel Hirscher performs at the FIS Alpine Skiing World Cup in Schladming, Austria on January 24, 2017. (Erich Spiess/ASP/Red Bull Content Pool)

 

 

Kelly Sildaru

At the age of 12, this Estonian became the youngest X-Games winner in slope style. Set on etching her name in the annals of the sport’s history, Sildaru followed up her performance with a win in the same event the following year to become the youngest with two gold medals at the X-Games. Now 14, Sildaru looks to blow away the competition in her first Olympics, and she’s got a pretty good shot at doing it.

Kelly Sildaru performs during Women's Ski Slopestyle at Winter X 2017 in Aspen, CO on January 29, 2017. (Christian Pondella/Red Bull Content Pool)
Kelly Sildaru performs during Women’s Ski Slopestyle at Winter X 2017 in Aspen, Colorado, on January 29, 2017. (Christian Pondella/Red Bull Content Pool)

 

 

Pierre Vaultier

After winning gold in Sochi just two months after tearing his ACL, France’s Pierre Vaultier became a household name in the nascent Snow Board Cross event. Vaultier will most likely be going into Pyeongchang with some momentum behind him. The French snowboarder has been racking up wins this season so far, and is in the running for the top slot in World Cup rankings.

Pierre Vaultier of France poses for a portrait at an Red Bull Athletes Shoot, in Rouen France on May 7, 2016. (Vincent Curutchet/Red Bull Content Pool)
Pierre Vaultier of France poses for a portrait at an Red Bull Athletes Shoot, in Rouen, France, on May 7, 2016. (Vincent Curutchet/Red Bull Content Pool)

 

Petter Northug

In 2018, the Norwegian cross-country skier will be looking to return to form. Pulling in four medals at the 2010 Winter Olympics, Northug earned two gold, one silver, and one bronze. But since then, he’s struggled. At 31, the Norwegian’s Olympic chances are dwindling—and that may be due to his off-the-mountain partying (in 2014, he served 50 days in jail for drunk driving). Despite this, Northug has become an icon in his home country (he even had his own reality show at one point).

Petter Northug at the finish line of Red Bull NordiX in Lake Louise, Canada on March 13, 2016. (Dan Carr/Red Bull Content Pool)
Petter Northug at the finish line of Red Bull NordiX in Lake Louise, Canada on March 13, 2016. (Dan Carr/Red Bull Content Pool)

 

 

Gracie Gold

In Sochi, the American figure skater had a disappointing twist of fate after being heralded as the sport’s next rising star. Gold was on the bronze medal-winning U.S. team, but she placed fourth in singles. Following the 2014 games, Gold worked her way to the podium nine times over two seasons until she hit a speed bump at the 2016 world championships. With a new coach in her corner, all signs point to success for Gold.

American Figure Skater Gracie Gold photographed at the Toyota Sports Center in El Segundo, California, USA on December 15, 2016. (Brinson+Banks, Stockland Martel/Red Bull Content Pool)
American Figure Skater Gracie Gold photographed at the Toyota Sports Center in El Segundo, California, USA on December 15, 2016. (Brinson+Banks, Stockland Martel/Red Bull Content Pool)

 

RealClearLife Staff