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OPINION: Winter Olympics, The Rise of the Teenager

Clementine Larrouilh, Reporter

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While most teenagers stress about doing well in school or getting into college, most won’t ever face the type of pressure that Team USA’s younger competitors face on a daily basis while competing in the 2018 Olympic Games at Pyeongchang. These athletes don’t buckle under the pressure, in fact, they thrive and represent team USA in the best way possible.

One of these fantastic teens has already made a splash on the global level. Nathan Chen, 18, has already won gold at both the 2017 Four Continents Championship and the ISU Grand Prix Final. Which is even more impressive considering that he suffered an season-ending injury to his hip in 2016. Nevertheless, Chen’s one of the best figure skaters in the business and as the Washington Post states, “His daring program is a formula for Olympic gold.”

Next, we come to one of the most tech-savvy teens on this list, Chloe Kim, 17, who tweeted before her run that she was “hangry.” However, this didn’t stop her from doing back-to-back 1080’s on the halfpipe, and winning her first gold medal. Kim attributes her success to her parents, who immigrated to the United States from South Korea in 1982. Her father would drive her to the mountains on the weekends for six hours to let her practice, and it all paid off. After all, Chloe Kim is the only athlete in X-Games history to earn three gold medals before the age of sixteen, having won three golds on the superpipe.

Many teens are always looking for the next chance to be #relatable, but Red Gerard, 17, has won the game. Gerard reportedly overslept after a night of binge-watching Brooklyn 99, slept through his alarm, borrowed his friend’s ski jacket, and still won a gold medal. He started snowboarding at the age of two, but really got into it once his family moved to Silverthorne, Colorado. Gerard is a newcomer to the global stage, having gotten first at the 2017 World Cup Standings.

These are some of the top teenage competitors from team USA, but teenagers from all over the world came to compete.

And none have done as well as the figure skaters from Russia, Alina Zagitova,15,  and Evgenia Medvedeva ,18. Medvedeva is a two time world champion, two time European champion, and two time Grand Prix Final winner. She also iconically skated to the Sailor Moon theme song in 2017, and set a world record during these Olympics. That world record was later smashed a second later by her teammate, Zagitova. Even though their rivalry on the ice is fierce, the teens a reportedly good friends outside of the rink. “I hear so many news that ‘Alina Zagitova and Evgenia Medvedeva are opponents on the ice and off the ice’,” Zagitova said. “We are humans, we communicate as usual, we are friends, we are girls, young girls. We can talk about everything to each other.”

Another talented athlete comes from Australia, one of the last places you’d think would have a snowboarding champion:18-year-old Emily Arthur.  Arthur won silver at the 2016 Lillehammer Youth Olympics in the halfpipe, and competed again in the same discipline at Pyeongchang. However, she had less luck in her second Olympics, placing at eleventh. She is one out of the three teenagers in the Australian team, and is predicted to be seen again in future Olympic Games.

Most impressive of all however, is eighteen-year-old speed skater Maame Biney. Biney competes in the 500 meter race, and has previously won bronze at the 2017 World Junior Championships in Innsbruck, Austria. She’s the first African-American woman to make the US speedskating team, and the 2018 Winter Olympics is her introduction to the global stage. Biney ended up winning the gold in her discipline.

Many of us can only dream about competing in the Olympics, and those few who do achieve this are guaranteed a spot in history. These teens have the rest of their life ahead of them, and with it, more chances to shock the world.

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