Conjure up some spirit for your country, the 2018 Winter Olympics in PyeongChang are upon us! Unlike the broad range of events Summer Games, according to the International Olympic Committee (IOC), there are only 15 "sports" officially listed for the Winter Games. Some of them like, skiing and snowboarding, are obvious fan favorites, but some of the more obscure competitions like curling, biathlon and skeleton can also be exciting to watch.
So, how does one get into a sport like bobsled, or even speedskating? Well, each event has its prototypical athlete. Like Lolo Jones, many former sprinters try their hand at bobsled, and speedskaters are usually long and lanky in order to get the most glide with each bound. Sometimes, it's the sport that picks the athlete, not the other way around.
That all being said, it's time to focus on some of the women athletes heading to South Korea. We will dive into each individual sport, and highlight the female competitor that you 'must see.' Here is every Winter Olympic sport's female athlete that drives us crazy. After looking at them, you might be wishing that they were competing in the summer games as well. Be sure to tune in!
15 Speedskating - Hege Bøkko
Speedskating is one of the most exciting events in the Winter Games. Countries are pitted against one another in a test of speed, balance, and technique. Viewers may witness breath-taking victories, but sometimes, these competitors get tangled up, resulting in gut-wrenching wrecks. One athlete we hope that doesn't crash and burn is 26-year-old Norwegian speedskater, Hege Bøkko.
The younger sister of Olympic bronze medalist, Håvard Bøkko, Hege has been to Vancouver and Sochi, but never brought home a medal. Although her skills on the track may not match up to her brother's, she definitely got the better genes in the family. She has been named the world's most attractive speedskater, and we tend to agree. Even if you aren't a big fan, make sure to keep an eye out for Bøkko in February!
14 Skeleton - Janine Flock
The sport of skeleton is one of the scariest, death-defying events in the Olympics. At speeds toppling 80 mph, racers navigate the icy track, head-first on a sled, inches above the ground. One small slip could mean a horrific crash, or even a broken neck! These racers did not listen to their parents when they were younger, telling them to slide down "feet first."
One of the more daring and dashing skeleton athletes is Austrian beauty, Janine Flock. After flopping at the 2014 Games in Sochi, the 28-year-old Olympian hopes to sled into first in PyeongChang. She's the odds-on favorite too after winning the skeleton World Cup in Lake Placid last November. Hopefully, she wins so the audience can see more of her in the headlines!
13 Cross Country Skiing - Jessie Diggins
Cross-country skiing isn't just a boring activity that your gym teacher makes you do during the winter. These athletes take endurance to the next level, trekking across all sorts of terrain in hopes of breaking the ribbon at the finish line. Historically, cross-country skiing has been dominated by the Nordic countries at the Winter Olympics, but America has a chance to grab a medal in South Korea, all because of Jessie Diggins.
The 26-year-old Minnesota-native has been slowly improving her world rankings since entering the professional levels in 2011. In Sochi, she had two topvten finishes, but has bigger hopes for PyeongChang. Diggins took home both a silver and bronze medal in the 2017 World Cup, and is hoping to ride that momentum to the top of the podium in February!
12 Luge - Erin Hamlin
I think most people are familiar with the sport of luge. Unlike skeleton, lugers lay on their back, heading down the track feet first. At the start, competitors, push-off the ice with both hands hoping to pick up speed before dropping into the treacherous track. With such velocity, luge is a dangerous sport, only dominated by a few special athletes. One of the "Biggest Lugers" today is the American beauty, Erin Hamlin.
At 31-years-old, the three-time Olympian is coming to the tail-end of her career, but that won't stop her from competing in PyeongChang. After bringing home the bronze in Sochi, Hamlin is looking to improve on her impressive resume by grabbing gold in February. With three medals in the 2017 World Championships, she may finally get that Olympic gold she's always dreamt about.
11 Short-track Speedskating - Alyson Dudek
Him: “Flex your triceps...” Me: “I AM!” 🤬 ••••••• Obviously traveling means using the gift of the outdoors as a gym. But for me, it’s necessary that I lift things otherwise I become a wimpy little string bean - not okay. Tricep dips on this bridge aren’t cutting it so I’m channeling my inner gym rat today as I search for some weights 🧐
The IOC distinguishes short-track speedskating from the previously mentioned speedskating, which is implied to be long-track. The difference is exactly what the name implies: short-track is about 111 m in length, while the long-track is 400 m. With shorter straightaways and steeper turns, the short-track events can lead to see some nasty, and sometimes entertaining, pileups and falls.
One USA Olympian that has learned to tame the treacher of the track is Wisconsin-native, Alyson Dudek. The two-time Olympian and bronze medalist is looking to stay relevant in South Korea, as she decides to hop back on the big stage. After sitting out of the game for a few years, Dudek is looking to make a comeback, and has a whole new perspective on the sport. On teamusa.org, she said:
“I’m going about this Olympics with a completely different mindset and perspective, and it’s fresh. It’s exciting..."
“I’m having fun with it. I’m doing this for me, but also I really want to be back with my teammates and really see Team USA get back on the podium and make an impact out there."
10 Bobsled - Aja Evans
"Feel the Rhythm! Feel the Rhyme! Get on up, it's bobsled time!" No, no, this isn't Cool Runnings! The beautiful American bobsledder, Aja Evans, makes our list at number nine. Originally a track & field competitor at the University of Nevada, and coming from a family of athletes, Evans has made a huge impact on the bobsled. She took home bronze in the two-woman competition in both the 2014 Games in Sochi and 2017 World Championships in Königssee. Let's hope she can continue the trend, and medal in Pyeongchang!
Now, many of the readers right now are thinking, "Wait, I thought Lolo Jones would be the hottest woman in bobsled?" Well, Jones is clearly not as accomplished as Evans, leaving her out of the running.
9 Ice Hockey - Hilary Knight
Women's ice hockey always takes a backseat to the men's international competition. There is less contact, and sometimes with many of these women struggling with their stick skills, it can be a sloppy game. But, these ladies are increasing their talents everyday, defying the typical "tomboy" stereotypes of female hockey players. One USA Olympian in particular has deked her way into the hearts of the nation, and is helping to increase the popularity of her sport.
Team USA's forward, Hilary Knight is queen of the ice. The California-native leads the 'Red, White, and Blue' into battle this year, hoping that her fiery play and fierce looks bring home an Olympic Championship, since USA has settled for silver in the last two games. The former Wisconsin Badger, and their all-time leading scorer, will lace up her skates in a few weeks in hopes of coming home a heroine!
8 Figure Skating - Tessa Virtue
With a crazy Olympic qualifier in the USA, popular figure skating beauty, Ashley Wagner, was left off the squad. Either way, she wouldn't have dethroned our top figure skater that drives us crazy, Canadian beauty, Tessa Virtue. While she competes in the Ice Dancing portion of the sport, Virtue still owns the rink. In 2010, she took home gold in front of her home fans in Vancouver, and in 2014, she snagged two silvers in Sochi.
Not only is Virtue an elegant princess on the ice, but along with her partner, Scott Moir, she will be carrying the l'Unifolié for her country in the opening ceremonies. Coming off a gold medal in the 2017 World Championships, the pair will look to bring the Canadian ice dancing program back to prominence!
7 Biathlon - Gabriela Koukolova
Look at those guns! The biathlon is one of the lesser known events in the Winter Olympics, and rarely gets much coverage. Competitors clash in a dual-threat competition that involves cross-county skiing and shooting. It's a true combination of physical prowess and mental fortitude. Imagine trying to aim when you can barely catch your breath! One of the highlights of this year's games will be Czech biathlete, Gabriela Koukolova.
The 28-year-old blonde bombshell, behind her kind blue eyes, is a fierce competitor. In Sochi, Koukolova took home silver medals in both the 12.5 mass start and mixed relay events. Daughter of Olympic medalist cross-country skier, Gabriela Svobodová, the drive to win runs in Koukolova's blood! Like many of other athletes, Koukolova took home gold in last year's world championships, and is looking to take home another in PyeongChang.
6 Ski Jumping - Sarah Hendrickson
Hurling down the artificial ramp at speeds upward of 60 mph, ski jump athletes glide through the air in a "Flying V," using their wide skis as wings. They travel distances as far as 200 meters, landing on the soft down slope, where every centimeter counts. You can imagine at these speeds and distance, crashing can be career-ending. Although, for American ski jumper, Sarah Hendrickson, these types of injuries only fuel her desire to conquer the sport.
In 2013, after taking home the gold in the World Championship, Hendrickson suffered a serious knee injury, leaving her in the lodge for the rest of the season. While attempting a comeback in 2015, she re-injured her knee again! After years of recovery, the 23-year-old Utah-native managed to place first in the U.S. Olympic trials in December. Let's hope she completes her storied comeback with a first place finish in PyeongChang!
5 Curling - Anna Sloan
There is nothing as thrilling as watching a competitor slowly slide a stone while her teammates feverishly sweep the ice, hoping to land in the bulls-eye. Slightly more exciting than watching paint dry, curling is all about strategy, technique and execution. Although mundane, some of the female athletes throwing stones are drop-dead gorgeous. Take the entire Russian curling team for example. These ladies slid into our hearts in Sochi with their lingerie shoot, but due to the sanctions against Russia this year, we can't include them in the list.
That's why the beautiful curler, Anna Sloan, comes in. The British skipper is known for her intensity, dominance, and beauty. She's a regular member on the podium in the European Curling Championships, and is looking to improve the team's bronze medal finish in Sochi back in 2014.
4 Freestyle Skiing - Rosalind Groenewoud
Per the IOC, freestyle skiing, which includes halfpipe and slopestyle, is separate from the alpine (downhill) portion. One of the female athletes that catches our eye on the course is Canadian skier, Rosalind Groenewoud, or 'Roz G' as she's known on the slopes.
Despite knee surgery during the just months before Sochi, Roz G still qualified for the 2014 games, coming in seventh due to her injury. In 2018, she hopes to comeback on the halfpipe with a vengeance in PyeongChang. Although Groenewoud won several X-Games gold medals in the past, she still longs to sit atop the podium in the Olympics. Let's hope Team Canada takes home the gold so we can see that beautiful smile radiate across the world.
3 Snowboarding - Silje Norendal
Unlike the skiing competitions, snowboarding is lumped into one sport in the Winter Olympics. All of the women in this competition are queens of the mountain, but only one athlete can take the throne. Could it be Torah Bright? Maybe even Aimee Fuller? Nope, it's Norwegian beauty, Silje Norendal.
Not only is Norendal a beautiful, stylish model and spokeswoman for Rockstar energy drink, she's actually pretty damn good on the slopes. She's won four X-games golds in the past five-years, and took home the bronze in the 2017 World Champions in the Big Air event. In PyeongChang, viewers should be glue to their flat screen to watch this Norwegian bombshell flip, twist, and spin down the Tabaek Mountains. Will she grab gold in the Olympics? You'll just have to wait and see.
2 Alpine Skiing - Mikaela Shiffrin
If you don't know her now, you better gear up for hearing the name Mikaela Shiffrin several times over the next month. The 22-year-old from Vail, CO is on track to be as good, if not better, than her USA teammate, Lindsey Vonn. In Sochi, Shiffrin took home the gold in the slalom at only 18-years-old, and looks to continue her dominance in PyeongChang.
Coming off yet another impressive World Cup run in 2017, there is no question that Shiffrin deserves our top spot. Let's hope that she stays on track, weaving in and out of the gates, and crossing the finish line with the best time!
But wait, top spot? This is only no.2. Well, our final entry has a bit of a curveball for you.
1 Nordic Combined - Still waiting!
Although female athletics have been continually progressing over the last century, there is still one sport where females can't compete at the Winter Olympics: Nordic combined. The grueling two-part event combines both cross-country skiing and ski jumping for a total score. It's like the Winter Olympics' lesser version of a decathlon.
Fear not though, women have slowly started competing in the Nordic combined around the world, and the USA even held its first women's competition in October of 2017. While these ladies still have a long way to go to gain international fame, the women's Nordic combined is slated to debut in the 2021 FIS World Cup and make it's way to the 2022 Winter Games in Beijing. For now, you'll only catch the fellas in this event in PyeongChang.