THE GRACE AND GRIT OF AMERICAN ATHLETES WILL BE ON DISPLAY IN SOUTH KOREA AS A MIX OF ACCOMPLISHED VETS AND HUNGRY NOVICES LOOKS TO BETTER THE U.S.'S 2014 TOTAL OF 28 MEDALS
KAREN CHEN, 18
The 5-foot Chen recorded the highest short-program score in U.S. nationals history in January 2017, winning the women's title and stamping herself as the next great American skater. Her time has come before many imagined it would. After a rough 2017, Chen finished third at nationals this month to secure her trip to PyeongChang. Her mentor is 1992 Olympic champion Kristi Yamaguchi, who also grew up in Fremont.
ASHLEY CALDWELL, 24
After finishing 10th in aerials at Sochi, Caldwell decided to add more difficult tricks. For a while all she had to show for her daring were bruises. But at last year's world championships she became the first woman to cleanly land a full, double, full, full (three flips with four twists). That helped propel her from ninth after the first round to the gold. She was the first U.S. woman in 22 years to win the aerial worlds.
DECLAN FARMER, 20, Tampa
JOSH PAULS, 25, Green Brook, N.J.
Farmer(left), who was born without legs, started playing sled hockey at age nine. At 16, he had a gold medal from Sochi. Now the Princeton student is going for another. Both of Pauls's legs were amputated when he was 10 months old, but he still dreamed of the NHL. The forward has helped Team USA in a variety of ways—including by hexing opponents with a Mr. Potato Head. (His nickname: Spuds.)
MEGHAN DUGGAN, 30, Danvers, Mass.
ALEX RIGSBY, 26, Delafield, Wis.
JORDAN GREENWAY, 20, Canton, N.Y.
Duggan(top right) and Rigsby lead a team that has a gold-or-bust attitude after its excruciating finish in Sochi. The U.S. led Canada 2--0 with less than four minutes left in the gold medal game before falling in overtime. While the women are hoping to knock off the favored Canadians this time, Greenway & Co. are just hoping to mount the podium in a men's hockey tournament without NHL players, who won't be competing for the first time since 1994.
AJA EVANS, 29, Chicago
JAMIE GREUBEL POSER, 34, Newtown, Pa.
ELANA MEYERS TAYLOR, 33, Douglasville, Ga.
As a child, Evans(middle) had Olympic dreams ... in track. She was a sprinter and shot-putter at Illinois—a rare combination—when a coach suggested she try bobsled. "That power, that strength and that explosiveness I have in both sprints and shot put allowed me to be the bobsledder that I am today," she says. Greubel Poser has been looking forward to these Games for a personal reason: Her sister Elizabeth was born in South Korea and adopted by the Greubel family. Meyers Taylor(far left) had gold in her grasp in Sochi before skidding on the final run to finish 0.1 of a second behind the winning Canadians. Afterward, she says, she lay awake at night "haunted" by her error. She recovered to win two of the next three world championships.
NICK GOEPPER, 23, Lawrenceburg, Ind.
GUS KENWORTHY, 26, Telluride, Colo.
AARON BLUNCK, 21, Crested Butte, Colo.
TORIN YATER-WALLACE, 22, Basalt, Colo.
Goepper(top left), who won bronze in slopestyle in Sochi, experienced some depression after the high of the Games, but says that deemphasizing skiing since has made him better prepared to handle the success that may await in PyeongChang. The silver medalist in Sochi, Kenworthy(top right) says he has been liberated by the attention he received after coming out as gay in 2015: "I had a long time where I would qualify first at the X Games and then fall in the finals. The pressure got to me. I don't know if it's because I was in the closet, but I think it was something that was ever present in my mind. It was always distracting." Blunck(lower right) has been skiing since he was 18—18 months. His mother and grandfather were ski instructors in Colorado, and he first competed in freestyle at age eight. In 2014 he graduated from the Vail Ski and Snowboard Academy and made the team for Sochi. In '15, Yater-Wallace came down with strep so severe that he was put into a medically induced coma for 10 days, losing 25 pounds. Now he is healthy and a threat in halfpipe.
TED LIGETY, 33, Park City, Utah
It's hard to believe, but when Ligety first made an Olympic team, in 2006, he was both a surprise and an afterthought. Now Ted Shred is heading to his fourth Games. One of the great slalom skiers in history, Ligety will be seeking his third Olympic medal. His first two were gold.
SUSAN DUNKLEE, 31, Barton, Vt.
OKSANA MASTERS, 28, Louisville
LOWELL BAILEY, 36, Lake Placid, N.Y.
After winning bronze in rowing at the 2012 Paralympics, Masters(middle) took up skiing, biathlon and cycling. She brought home medals in cross-country events from Sochi and nearly won another in cycling in Rio. Still, she says, "I don't see myself as successful because I don't have that gold medal yet." Bailey is competing in his fourth Games, but this is no nostalgia tour. Last year he became the first American to win a biathlon world championship, taking the 20K individual in Hochfilzen, Austria. A skier for 30 years and a biathlete for 10, Dunklee(far left) is the first U.S. woman to earn a medal in a biathlon world championship, claiming silver in the mass start in '17.
MIKE SCHULTZ, 36, St. Cloud, Minn.
BRENNA HUCKABY, 22, Salt Lake City
Schultz was an able-bodied snowmobile racer known as Monster Mike until December 2008, when he drifted off course, flew off his machine and landed on his left leg, which had to be amputated just above the knee. He thought his career was over at 27. But Schultz worked for weeks in his garage in Minnesota, building his own prosthetic leg, and at last year's world championships he claimed silver in the banked slalom and finished fourth in snowboardcross. Huckaby was a gymnast in Louisiana before bone cancer took her right leg. Then 14, she had never seen snow, but once she did, she fell in love with it. She stopped racing in early '16 for the birth of her daughter, Lilah, and returned in '17 to win gold at the world championships in snowboardcross and banked slalom. Now she is looking to add medals at her first Paralympics.
MATTHEW MORTENSEN, 32 Huntington Station, N.Y.
JAYSON TERDIMAN, 19, Berwick, Pa.
Mortensen (far left) and Terdiman have been together since just after Sochi. Their rise has been slow but steady; by year three, they had reached third in the final Cup standings. Sergeant Mortensen is part of the Army World Class Athlete Program, which allows soldiers to compete in elite competitions while they serve.
NATHAN CHEN, 18, Salt Lake City
A former gymnast, Chen has something in common with Simone Biles: He is so gifted that he pulls off what few others even try. He landed five quadruple jumps at January's national championships—a toe loop, Salchow, loop, flip and Lutz—and is the only undefeated male skater in the world this season.
MADISON CHOCK, 25 Novi, Mich.
EVAN BATES, 28 Northville, Mich.
On Chock's 16th birthday she went on a date with Bates. Soon after, they went their separate ways, in separate rinks, with different skating partners. Now they are together, on the ice and off—and one of three U.S. ice dancing teams with medal hopes.
MAIA SHIBUTANI, 23, Ann Arbor, Mich.
ALEX SHIBUTANI, 26, Ann Arbor, Mich.
The Shibutanis were heavy favorites to win their third straight national title in dance in January, but Maia slipped during the free program, and Madison Hubbell and Zachary Donohue took the gold. The question is whether that disappointment will linger, or if it will be the prelude to a Shib Sibs' triumph in PyeongChang. Alex says that since he and his sister were preteens, "we were kind of obsessed with athletes' story lines." If they go from silver in January to gold in February, that would be a pretty good one.
SIMI HAMILTON, 30, Aspen, Colo.
JESSIE DIGGINS, 26, Afton, Minn.
Hamilton loves to surf, kayak, run and bike, but if he seems born to ski, that's because he was. His grandfather, D.R.C. (Darcy) Brown was a cofounder of the Aspen Skiing Company, and its chief executive from 1957 to '79. Hamilton won nine junior national titles. Diggins started the sport as a toddler and has become one of the most successful female U.S. cross-country skiers ever. She says her silver and bronze medals at the 2017 world championships give her confidence heading to PyeongChang: "I know that it's possible because I've done it before. Same competitors, same race."
PARA ALPINE SKIING
ANDREW KURKA, 26, Palmer, Alaska
THOMAS WALSH, 23, Vail, Colo.
Kurka's first Olympic dreams were of wrestling: He was a state champion when he was eight. Then, at 13, an ATV accident left Kurka(below, left) paralyzed. Two years later he tried mono-skiing, and now he is the reigning world champion in the downhill and a medalist in the giant slalom and Super-G. Walsh's first ski instructor was Mikaela Shiffrin's mom, Eileen, in Vail. He and Mikaela even went to his prom together. He was diagnosed with Ewing's sarcoma, a rare form of bone cancer, in 2009, and eventually gave up skiing. He picked it up again after watching Shiffrin in Sochi. Within his first year, he won slalom and giant slalom World Cup races.
BRITTANY BOWE, 29, Ocala, Fla.
In the summer of 2016, a collision in practice left Bowe with a concussion—and an uncertain future. She was off the ice for 18 months. "There were plenty of times when I just felt lost," she says. "It's scary if something is stripped from you, especially if you're not expecting it." Now Bowe is hoping to add an Olympic title to her collection of nine world championship medals.
MAGGIE VOISIN, 19, Whitefish, Mont.
She made the team in Sochi at age 15, only to fracture her right fibula training on the day of the opening ceremony. In her first competition back, in December 2014, she blew out her left knee. Today, Voisin still carries the same carefree attitude that made her a prodigy: "Yes, my goal is to win medals and whatnot, but this is what I love to do. If I focus on that more than medals, I'm successful."
JOHN SHUSTER, 35, Superior, Wis.
Shuster—the skip of Team Shuster—is the first American male curler to make four Olympic teams. He won bronze in 2006. The difference for Shuster this time around can be calculated by additions (he has two- and four-year-old sons) and subtraction (the former bartender has dropped 30 pounds since Sochi.)