The Highlander

Young Americans show promise in Korea

Combination of veterans and rookies propel U.S. at Olympics

Ben Brooks, Reporter

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For nearly a century, the Winter Olympics have been a spotlight for athletes to compete for their country every four years. Every year there are new young athletes who impresses the world with their talent and potential at such a young age.

This year for the United States, it was seventeen-year-old snowboarder Red Gerrard who stole the show. He secured the first gold medal for the United States by defeating Canadians Max Parrot and Mark McMorris in the Men’s Slopestyle on his third and final run.
“For someone who is still in high school and messed up on his first two runs, it is very difficult to come back from that,” sophomore Ethan Bacica said.

American Jamie Anderson picked up a gold medal in the Women’s Slopestyle, adding onto the gold she received in the same event at the Sochi Olympics in 2014, and giving the Americans the gold medal sweep in the slopestyle events.

In figure skating, Mirai Nagasu became the first American woman to ever land a triple axle in Olympic history, and the third Oympian ever. However, the Americans fell to the bronze medal position in the team event behind outstanding performances from the Canadians, who picked up the gold, and the Russians, the silver medal winners.
The luge event was projected to be a predictable one, as German Felix Loch was going for his third consecutive luge gold medal. However, Loch fell in his run, opening the door for Austrian David Gleirscher to shock spectators and take home the gold. American Chris Mazdzer slid in at silver and German Johannes Ludwig finished bronze. Overwhelming favorite Loch was nowhere near the podium.
To continue the American success in snowboarding, 17-year-old Chloe Kim, still in high school, put up a score of 93.75 out of 100, giving her a huge lead over the rest of the competition heading into the final run. With Kim going last, nobody was able to even match her score, giving her a victory run as she had already clinched the gold medal. On her final run, Kim scored a 98.25 by landing back-to-back 1080 rotations to take the two highest scores in the competition and to win the gold medal. Fellow American Arielle Gold won bronze, giving the U.S. two medals in the Women’s Halfpipe.

In the men’s halfpipe, American star Shaun White was hoping to bounce back from a disappointing 2014 Olympics where he had finished fourth. White was also trying to rebound from a terrible injury he suffered in New Zealand in October that resulted in him getting 62 stitches in his face.
“It was amazing watching Shaun White come back from his injury,” sophomore Brennan Medina said. “It’s amazing because he has been at the top [of his game] for so long.”
Leading the pack with a 94.25 heading into the final round, Ayumu Hirano of Japan landed back-to-back 1440s to score a 95.25 and put all the pressure back on White.
“After Hirano’s run I thought there was no way that White would win. Hirano’s run was crazy,” sophomore Javier Noyola said.
With the final run of the day, White needed to pull off something amazing. He did just that, landing back-to-back 1440s, which, according to ABC, White said he had never done before. White’s gold medal gave the U.S. their 100th winter Olympic gold medal ever.
Despite a rather disappointing Olympics for the Americans, who earned their lowest medal total in over two decades, the women’s hockey team impressed. Thirty-eight years to the day that the US men’s hockey team pulled off “the miracle on ice,” the women’s team shocked four-time defending gold medalist Canada, ending a devastating 20-year gold medal drought, giving the U.S. their 21st medal of the games.

The U.S. struggled overall with 23 medals, finishing fourth in the medal count and recording their lowest since 1998, where they recorded 13 medals. The Norwegians finished first in the count with 39 medals, followed by Germany with 31 and Canada with 29.
American snowboarder Jamie Anderson and skiier Mikaela Shiffrin each took home two medals for the U.S., Anderson taking gold in the women’s slopestyle and silver in the big air competition. Shiffrin won gold in the giant slalom event and finished with a silver in the alpine combined event. Norway cross country skiier Marit Bjoergen won five medals at Pyeongchang, leading the field. Bjoergen has won 15 medals in her career.
With two 17-year-old gold medalists in Kim and Gerrard, the potential of the American team in the Winter Olympics continues to grow.

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