Ever since Tonya and Nancy, the U.S. has been captivated with figure skating — women’s figure skating, especially. It’s campy, the costumes are great, and there’s always been a decent spoonful of drama. Even though this year’s Olympics in Pyeongchang starting February 7 have felt somewhat played down, I’ll still be trying to find a Brooklyn sports bar (or friend with the rare animal of cable television) to catch this year’s figure skating events — especially with the film I, Tonya putting figure skating’s storied past in our minds.
So, who are the people repping Team USA this year? The U.S. will be sending three women and three men, in addition to three ice dance and one pairs team to Pyeongchang, bringing the team to a total of 14. Nathan Chen, 18, is the standout, considered the only American male skater with a “real shot at the gold medal.” 18-year-old Karen Chen (no relation to Nathan) will be making her Olympic debut after finishing third place in the U.S. championships. She tweeted about her excitement in January:
— Karen Chen (@Karebearsk8) January 6, 2018
Bradie Tennell, 19, was an “unknown” until joining Team USA. She was the surprise winner of the first-ever international competition, taking third place after having dropped out of the scene for a while to deal with stress fractures. Mirai Nagasu, 24, is one of the veterans, having finished fourth at the Vancouver Olympics in 2010 but losing a bid to skate for the U.S. in Sochi in 2014.
Vincent Zhou, 17, is the youngest man on the team, beginning his skating career at a friend’s birthday party at age 5. Now, he’s an Olympian who placed third at the 2018 US championships. Adam Rippon, 28, is the first openly gay man to qualify for this year’s Olympic team. He was chosen to compete after finishing in fourth place at the 2018 championships. He told NPR:
“I don’t really care what other people think of me. I’m able to go out there and I’m really able to be unabashedly myself. I want somebody who’s young, who’s struggling, who’s not sure if it’s OK if they are themselves to know that it’s OK.”