5 Americans to Watch in the 2018 Olympics
Get ready for these contenders to crush the Winter Games
From five different sports, here's who to root for on Team USA—and when to watch them.
35, alpine skiing
Nyman, of Park City, Utah, has won three World Cup races and came in third in the only World Cup event run on the South Korean course in 2016. He believes the track suits him. “It has lots of little jumps and rolls and wacky, bumpy terrain that I feel comfortable on,” he says. And despite tearing his knee last January, he likes his chances. “Most guys I talk to who’ve been through knee injuries say that a year out is when you feel 100 percent,” he says. “So these Olympics are good timing.”
Watch Nyman compete in the downhill on February 10, 8:30 P.M. EST, on NBC.
About halfway through the Sochi biathlon, Bailey, who lives in Lake Placid, New York, was well positioned to win the bronze. Then he missed a target, dropping him into eighth place and denying the Americans their first ever biathlon medal. That prompted the team to hire Matt Eamons, an Olympic gold-medal shooter, and Gerold Sattlecker, a biomechanics professor at Austria’s University of Salzburg. Together they used computer analysis to make minute adjustments to various aspects of the team’s shooting technique. The result was a gold medal for Bailey at the 2017 World Championships, the first by an American. “On any given day, there are 50 guys who have a chance of medaling,” says Bailey. “Winning gave me confidence that I know what it takes.”
Watch Bailey compete in the sprint biathlon on February 11, 5:45 A.M. EST, on NBC.
Jamie Greubel Poser
Greubel Poser quit the bobsled after the first time she tried it. “I felt like I got put in a tin can and kicked off a cliff,” she says. The former Cornell University track athlete put down her helmet and went to graduate school, earning a master’s degree in early childhood education. Then she got a call from Phoebe Burns, a driver on the women’s bobsled team. “She knew I had a fast start time and wanted me to help push her,” says Greubel Poser. “So I decided to try again.” Good choice. In Sochi, Greubel Poser won bronze with teammate Aja Evans. Now she’s the top-ranked bobsledder in the world.
Watch Greubel Poser compete in the bobsled on February 18, 6:20 A.M. EST, on NBC.
Thanks to a hefty budget and technically advanced sleds, Germans have dominated the luge for years. One bright spot for Americans is Hamlin, a native of Remsen, New York, who won bronze at the Sochi Olympics—the luge team’s only medal. Hamlin is now favored to win Team USA’s first Olympic gold medal in luge, partly because of the squad’s recent partnership with Dow Chemical and sandpaper manufacturer Norton Saint-Gobain. Using 3-D printing, computer modeling, and advanced aerodynamics, the two companies have manufactured sleds with dramatically lower friction and vibration, saving precious tenths of a second. “Before, we sort of used homemade equipment,” says Hamlin. “Now there’s a lot more science that goes into it. It makes a big difference.”
Watch Hamlin compete in the luge on February 18, 5:20 A.M. EST, on NBC.
31, speed skating
The South Korea Games will mark the debut of mass-start speed skating, a head-to-head—and sometimes fist-to-back—race that sends up to 28 athletes 16 laps around the 400-meter oval at once. “It’s like Nascar on ice,” says Mantia. “People are grabbing hips and pushing.” Mantia, who is from Ocala, Florida, won 28 World Championship titles in in-line skating before switching to speed skating in 2011. Last year he won the World Championship and is a favorite to take the gold in the new event. “It’s a lot like in-line, the first to the finish line wins,” he says. “That’s right in my wheelhouse.”
Watch Mantia compete in the mass start on February 24, 5:30 A.M. EST, on NBC.
To learn more, visit teamusa.org. The Olympics begin live on Feb 8.