2018 Winter Olympic Highlights: Gold Medals and Breakout Stars


Chloe Kim celebrating her gold medal win

Kaley Ciluffo

As the Olympics come to a close, Americans have witnessed the incredible joy, shock and disbelief of athletes who have put together awe-inspiring performances. Among team triumphs and individual successes, there were a host of firsts for rising athletes. 

On display: a wide range of dazzling personalities that captured the hearts of Americans young and old. Take a look back at some of the Team USA’s breakout stars.

Chloe Kim (pictured right) was one of the most prominent athletes of the Olympics as she became the youngest woman to  ever win an Olympic snowboarding medal. 

Kim, 17, hails from Long Beach, Ca. who shredded the competition in the women’s halfpipe, landing back-to-back 1080-degree roations en route to gold. 

Kim’s refreshing personality captured attention on and off the slopes. Tweeting mid-competition about her need for some ice cream, Kim lit up social media.

 Later, in her post-competition interview, she let the world know that a churro is all she needs to calm the pre-competition jitters. Olympians, they’re just like us.

If you have not heard of Adam Rippon, it’s only a matter of time. With endorsement deals, magazine covers and broadcasting opportunities piling up, Rippon will have no shortage of time in the spotlight. 

The charismatic and outspoken social-media darling of the Olympic games, Rippon made a name for himself by speaking and tweeting whatever came to mind. 

Earning a bronze medal in the team competition with an incredible team free skate, Rippon has been vocal about his struggles off the ice. But a year ago, things looked far less promising. 

At 28, broke and living in his coaches basement, he considered stepping away from the sport. Ultimately, deciding to let the Olympic Trials decide his future in skating Rippon finished second at trials. 

Further capitalizing on his success at the Olympics he delivered a pristine program with outstanding technical execution and artistry. 

In his own words on what its like to be a gay athlete on Team USA, Rippon said, “… it’s exactly like being a straight athlete. Lots of hard work but usually done with better eyebrows.” 

Rippon respectfully turned down an offer from NBC to become a correspondent for their Olympic coverage after he finished competing.

Making it look easy has been Maame Biney’s style (pictured below). She became the first African-American female to qualify for the U.S. Olympic speed skating team, winning by margins that had some pegging her as the dark horse for Olympic gold. 

The Olympic newcomer’s competition did not go quite as planned when she was eliminated in the quarterfinals of the 500m but through it all, Biney kept smiling. At just 18-years-old, she was optimistic about the future and was looking forward to watching the rest of the games. 

With incredible upswing and a long career ahead, you can count on hearing her name in the years to come. On what’s ahead? Biney said it’s back to high school to finish her senior year.

American Ice Dancers Maia Shibutani and Alex Shibutani have an impressive history as U.S. Champions and World Medalists and entered the Olympic Scene this year. This dynamic brother-sister duo, commonly referred to as the “Shib Sibs,” lived up to the hype by becoming the first siblings and skaters of Asian descent to win an Olympic medal in ice dance and in the team event free dance. 

Securing bronze after a nearly flawless performance, Maia and Alex didn’t let being siblings turn into a roadblock to their success. 

In a sport that is known for rewarding romantic artistry, the pair embraced their quirky relationship and technical mastery, using it to their advantage and shaking up the skating world. 

Skating together since 2004, the longest tenure pair for the Team USA, Maia and Alex have become known for their candid social media documentation of highs and lows during their journey. 

Now two-time Olympic medalists, the siblings plan to celebrate their success by enjoying the rest of the games, indulging in chicken wings and pizza and, most importantly, catching up on some well-deserved sleep.