The United States is sending approximately 300 Olympic and Paralympic athletes to the 2018 Winter Games in Pyeongchang, South Korea. Meet some of them as they try out traditional Korean masks, play instruments and taste local snacks. From skiers to skaters, they talk about the experiences and passions that drive them to compete on the world stage.
Aaron Pike will compete in Nordic skiing as a member of the U.S. Paralympic Team. Besides competing in Sochi in 2014, he also raced in the marathon at the 2012 and 2016 Summer Paralympic Games.
“One of my best friends is actually a Korean Paralympic athlete. He came to the U.S. to study at the University of Illinois and to compete in wheelchair racing. We practiced together on the track leading into the Rio Paralympic Games.”
Maia Shibutani and Alex Shibutani are a brother-sister ice dancing duo known as the “ShibSibs” to their thousands of social media followers. Here they’re making a popular K-pop gesture signifying love.
“One of the things we love about figure skating is the creative process. We’re inspired by different types of dance, art and music.” – Alex
“It’s important for us to look outside the ice for inspiration so we can make something really unique happen on the ice.” – Maia
Aja Evans is a brakeman for the U.S. women’s bobsled team. Her family is full of world-class athletes competing in professional sports, including baseball and American football.
“My message to young girls is to believe in themselves and trust their journey. For me to pursue the Olympic Games in bobsled and win a bronze medal, then go for an Olympic gold medal…Those are my wildest dreams. So, if I can do it, I know they can do it.”
Brenna Huckaby is a snowboard world champion who will compete in the banked slalom and snowboardcross for the U.S. Paralympic Team. She is also a mom with a young daughter named Lilah.
“Honestly, I think it’s given me a little bit of a competitive edge. I use her as a kind of motivation to keep progressing and keep getting better, because I don’t want to leave home and not come back with success.”
Danelle Umstead will represent the United States in alpine skiing. She is blind. Her father introduced her to blind skiing as a child. She now skis with her husband, Rob (pictured here) as her guide.
“When my Dad took me skiing for the first time, it was freedom. The sense that, even though I have no vision, I can actually do something that is beyond all possibilities.”
Hilary Knight plays forward for the U.S. women’s ice hockey team. She helped her professional team, the Boston Pride, win the 2016 championship in the inaugural season of the National Women’s Hockey League.
“My advice to a young girl looking to sign up for a male-dominated sport would be to just go out there and have fun. That’s why we play sports — it’s to have fun. Go out there and be powerful and strong with who you are.”
Video clips courtesy of U.S. Embassy Seoul. Symbols courtesy of the International Olympic Committee and International Paralympic Committee.