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2018 Winter Olympics: Athletes to Watch
2018 Winter Olympics: Athletes to Watch
By: Ryan Pitts, MD

The 2018 Winter Olympic Games, which will be held in PyeongvChang, South Korea, is an exciting time for all athletes and sports-watchers. With amazing performances and heroic stories of injury recovery, this year will be an exciting time to watch these experts take to the ice, slopes and halfpipes in an effort to bring home gold. Let’s take a look at a few of the U.S. Olympians you won’t want to miss this month.

Lindsey Vonn, Alpine Skier
The 33-year-old from St. Paul, Minnesota, plans to compete in her fourth Games. She was forced to miss the 2014 Olympics in Sochi due to a knee surgery. She also suffered a broken ankle in the summer of 2015, adding to a long list of other injuries common to downhill skiers. As a matter of fact, from 2006 to 2016, Vonn has had nine major injuries and five surgeries. Most recently, she experienced a terrifying high-speed crash while leading a downhill at Lake Louise, in Alberta, Canada, in early December. Vonn will compete in at least the downhill, the dangerous Super G and combined (a mix of downhill and slalom) events. She will be the most accomplished skier on the mountain, as well as one of the oldest.


Shaun White, Snowboarder

A two-time gold medalist from San Diego, California, Shaun White is ready to take on the challenge of the Winter Games after a recent injury. In October 2017, he crashed into the edge of a superpipe while training in New Zealand and required 62 stitches in his face. In the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi, his third Olympics, he came in fourth place and later said that homesickness had played a large part in his performance. To prepare for 2018, White hired a new coach, new PR person, agency and new manager, and began a workout program in addition to working with a physical therapist.


Laurenne Ross, Alpine Skier

Originally from Edmonton, Alberta, Ross grew up in Klamath Falls, Oregon, from age 7 on and is the daughter of a former alpine racer. She was selected to the U.S. Ski Team in 2006, and made her World Cup debut in December 2009. At age 29, she will make her Olympic debut at the Winter Games. She has suffered a long list of injuries including a fractured pelvis, torn anterior cruciate ligament in her left knee, multiple shoulder dislocations, sprained ankles, concussions and broken fingers. Perhaps her most concerning injury occurred in March 2017 on Maine’s Sugarloaf Mountain where Ross’ ski became caught at the wrong angle and ripped apart her right knee, tore her ACL, meniscus and more. The 29-year-old who now calls Bend, Oregon, home is taking her rebuilt knee to the Games.


Elana Meyers Taylor, Bobsledder

“Concussions are a reality in my world,” said Taylor, the 33-year-old who was born in Oceanside, California, and raised in Douglasville, Georgia. The 2018 Games will be her third Olympic appearance. She took home a bronze medal in 2010 in Vancouver and a silver medal in 2014 in Sochi. In January 2014, she suffered a concussion after her 380-pound sled went airborne on a track in Germany. She was able to finish the race, but immediately felt foggy, nauseous and disoriented, causing her to seek medical help. Wisely, when she continued to have headaches and issues with memory and concentration, she looped back in with her treatment team and neurologist. Now, along with Lauren Gibbs, Jamie Greubel Poser and Aja Evans, Taylor will lead one of Team USA’s two women’s bobsled teams.


To learn more, visit teamusa.org. The 2018 Winter Olympics begin on Thursday, February 8. We wish all the members of the U.S. Olympic team a safe and successful Winter Olympics! Let’s go, Team USA!




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