With the 2014 Sochi Winter Games less than a month away, Olympic hopefuls across the globe are gearing up to skate, ski, lunge and twirl their way to glory. We feature 8 U.S. female athletes who are poised step into the Sochi spotlight during February’s Winter Games. Read below to discover how these amazing women have gotten to the world stage.
Susan Dunklee: Biathlon
Continuing her family’s Olympic legacy, Susan Dunklee is keeping her eyes on the prize. Susan’s father, two-time Olympian Stan Dunklee, trained her in cross-country skiing from age 2. Susan began biathlon training after college, quickly learning the mechanics of marksmanship. She finished 5th at the 2012 World Championship and seventh at the 2013 World Cup.
Heather Richardson: Speed Skating
Heather Richardson returns to Olympic long track speedskating hoping to improve on her 2010 performance in Vancouver, where she earned a sixth place finish in the 500m race and placed ninth in the 1000m. Richardson began her competitive career as an inline skater before transitioning to ice speedskating after high school. She is the current U.S. National Champion in speed skating.
Ashley Wagner: Figure Skating
The first U.S. female figure skater to earn back-to-back National Championships since Michelle Kwan, Ashley Wagner is expected to deliver big results at Sochi. She missed the Vancouver games by just a few points, but sitting on the sidelines steeled her resolve. Wagner has changed some of her coaching staff recently, but hopes that these additions enhance her routines.
Noelle Pikus-Pace: Skeleton
Mom first, Olympic skeleton racer second; that’s Noelle Pikus-Pace’s motto. After finishing 4th in Vancouver, she briefly retired, wanting to spend more time with her family. In 2012, Pikus-Pace decided to return to the races, this time with her family. She spent the past season traveling with her husband and two small children, who will also join her in Sochi. She enters the games ranked third in the world but number one mother in her family’s heart.
Jessica Jerome: Ski Jump
Hoping to soar above her competition, former Junior Olympic ski jump champion Jessica Jerome wants to make her mark in Sochi. After ranking ninth in the 2013 World Cup standings, Jerome wants her Olympic debut to exceed her past, stellar performances. With star skier Lindsey Vonn out of the games, Jerome has the chance to score on the slopes for the U.S.
Mikaela Shiffrin: Slalom
At just 18, Mikaela Shiffrin already has a long list of accomplishments under her belt. She earned back-to-back U.S. slalom championships in 2011 and 2012 and was the 2013 World Cup slalom overall champion. She is the youngest American to earn a World Cup title in any type of skiing. Praised for her speed through the slalom gates, Shiffrin’s Olympic debut will only accelerate her meteoric rise.
Hilary Knight: Hockey
Hilary Knight returns to the Olympic team after playing for the Boston Blades in the Canadian Women’s Hockey League. Knight was the youngest member of the 2010 U.S. Silver medal team and enters Sochi with more experience. Named MVP in her rookie year at the Blades, Knight rejoins the national women’s hockey team ready to vie against her teammate Genevieve Lacasse who is playing of Team Canada.
Elana Meyers: Bobsled
For Elana Meyers, Sochi is a chance to prove herself in a new position on the bobsled. Meyers earned bronze for the U.S. in Vancouver as a brakewoman, but has now transitioned to driver to great results. Meyers began her athletic career playing softball where she learned the values of teamwork and communication. Meyers hopes to continue the winning legacy of U.S. bobsled, which has medaled at each games since 2002 when the sport was introduced.