The winter Olympics are kicking off this weekend – and we’re not just excited to cheer on Team USA (who this year has 108 women competing on the team), but *every* badass woman chasing her dreams to win gold. While the rest of us get cozy on our couches (spectating is a sport too, right?), get to know some of the athletes we’ll be cheering on this year:
Twenty-two-year-old Brenna Huckaby, whose right leg was amputated as part of osteosarcoma treatment to save her life when she was a teenager, will compete in her first Paralympics in PyeongChang. Brenna is a favorite to win gold in both of her events — snowboardcross and banked slalom. A fierce competitor, Brenna has accomplished SO much in the last few years, including winning gold at last year’s world championships and having a daughter, Lilah, in 2016. I’m cheering for you, Brenna!
Not only is 25-year-old Erin the first Black woman to compete in long-track skating on the U.S. team, she’s also only been in the sport for 4 MONTHS. Yes, you read that right. While she’s been speed skating on the flat track for 15 years (and has a bunch of awards to go with it), she only just took to the ice. Erin herself said: “I didn’t really come in thinking I was going snag one of these spots on the Olympic team, it just sort of happened that way.”
Erin is also an accomplished roller derby skater and graduated magna cum laude from Florida University with a B.S. in materials science, because apparently being an Olympics superstar just isn’t enough. My two cents? This gold medal has Erin’s name written all over it.
— Erin (who by default must cheer on all other Erins)
Mirai Nagasu will be representing the U.S. in figure skating. In 2008, she was the youngest woman since Tara Lipiniski to win the U.S. senior ladies title and the second youngest in history. She is the second U.S. woman skater to land a triple axel jump in competition. This will be her second Olympic appearance and she may be the first American woman (!!) to land a triple axel jump in the Olympics – I’ll be watching to see if she pulls it off!
Jazmine Fenlator-Victorian, Carrie Russell, Audra Segree, Seun Adigun, Akuoma Omeoga and Ngozi Onwumere
— Jamaica Bobsled Team (@Jambobsled) January 20, 2018
Socioeconomic… issues aside, I kinda really love the Olympics. I’m mostly a summer games gal, but once I will myself to quiet the anxious mama voice inside my head freaking out about how the Winter Olympics is just straight up danger on ice (because seriously, who was the first person to think of some of these events? Can we just pause for a moment and consider that not only did it occur to a person to just be like, “Oh, I know a totally safe and un-terrifying thing to do! I’ll lay on a little plank with blades on it and then fling myself down the side of an icy mountain!” but also that they were able to successfully convince other people to do it, too? Like, what?!) it really is beautiful and inspirational.
Especially when folks are out here making ice cold history this Black History Month. Seriously, there is so. much. Black lady bobsledding history this year! Rocking a sled named for both Cool Runnings and Usain Bolt, Jamaica is sending Jazmine Fenlator-Victorian, Carrie Russell, and Audra Segree to represent the country as its first women’s bobsled team. Meanwhile, Seun Adigun, Akuoma Omeoga, and Ngozi Onwumere, representing Nigeria, are not only Nigeria’s first women’s bobsled team, they’re Nigeria’s first team to ever compete in the Winter Olympics in any event, and the first team of any gender to represent an African nation in bobsledding. Even though they’re not representing Team USA, I will be cheering so hard when they compete (and praying even harder because OMG can we talk about how ever.y.thing about the Winter Olympics is dangerous?! I don’t know how any of these athletes’ parents can even bear to watch…)
Hailing from California, Chloe Kim is one of the top Asian-American athletes we are watching (and rooting for) during this year’s PyeongChang Winter Olympics. At just 17 years old, she has accomplished some pretty big firsts: the first person under the age of 16 to win consecutive gold medals at the X games and the first woman to land back-to-back 1080 spins in a snowboarding competition. This teenager is poised to rule the slopes and the games and I’m excited to cheer her on!
Of course, there are so many other badass women competing this year, from Maame Biney, the first Black woman to compete in short track speedskating, to the USA women’s hockey players who fought for – and won – equal pay for their team. Good luck to all the athletes competing this year, and we hope we’ve got even more amazing women to celebrate in the Olympics to come.