2018 Winter Olympics: Medal Favorites for Figure Skating, Skiing and Top Events

Matt JonesFeatured ColumnistJanuary 15, 2018

SAN JOSE, CA - JANUARY 07:  Nathan Chen skates in the Smucker's Skating Spectacular during the 2018 Prudential U.S. Figure Skating Championships at the SAP Center on January 7, 2018 in San Jose, California.  (Photo by Matthew Stockman/Getty Images)
Matthew Stockman/Getty Images

Nathan Chen is expected to be the star attraction in the figure skating at the 2018 Winter Olympics, as he leads the United States' charge for gold.

The 18-year-old heads to Pyeongchang, South Korea, as the only unbeaten men's skater in the world, having produced some incredible performances in the buildup to the Games. Canada's Kaetlyn Osmond is the favourite to win the women's competition.

Meanwhile, one of the United States' best hopes for a medal in the skiing comes in the form of Mikaela Shiffrin, who has been in sensational form in World Cup events recently. She'll face stiff competition from compatriot Lindsey Vonn and a strong Italian team on the slopes.

Read on for a closer look at some of the favourites for glory in the skiing and figure skating events in South Korea.


Pyeongchang Preview

Petros Giannakouris/Associated Press

Chen may only be 18, but he heads to the Games with so much expectation on his shoulders as one of the United States' major gold-medal hopes.

The hype is not without justification. At the recent national championships, Chen dominated the field and skated with the maturity you'd expect from a potential Olympic winner.

Per the icenetwork Twitter account, he was a long way clear of the rest of the field:

icenetwork @icenetwork

Just your casual 40-point victory at nationals. Nathan Chen is a god. #USChamps18 https://t.co/ujhy75NYcO

"This is a kid who can step up to the plate and knock it out of the park," Brian Boitano, the 1988 Olympic champion, said recently of Chen, per the Associated Press (h/t Press Herald).

There will be concerns that inexperience at the highest level might hinder Chen on the biggest stage here, although he's stepped up to every challenge he's had to face in his career so far. Provided he performs to his best, it's difficult to see who stops him in the field.

Tony Avelar/Associated Press

The man who may come closest is defending Olympic and world champion Yuzuru Hanyu, who is part of the Japan team in Pyeongchang.

Meanwhile, team Canada will have high hopes for Osmond. After all, she was a silver medalist in Sochi four years ago and was runner-up again at the World Championships last year.

However, she was beaten by rival Gabby Daleman at the recent Canadian championships and said on Twitter some rudimentary mistakes had crept into her performances:

Kaetlyn Osmond @kaetlyn_23

Coming 2nd today was obviously frustrating. But I am so proud of the performances these last two days. The jumps are there. I can do those. But thank you so much @LanceV72 and @J_Butt for two amazing vehicles for the Olympics !

Away from the ice rink, the skiing events represent some of the most popular disciplines at the Games.

Shiffrin is the competitor building the most momentum pre-Olympics, as the 22-year-old has won nine of her last 10 races, including five in succession in the World Cup, putting her at the top of the competition standings.

Given her form and her experience—the 22-year-old won the slalom at the Sochi Games four years ago—Shiffrin is arguably the favourite to take three golds in South Korea. 

As noted by ESPN's Paul Carr, the youngster has already made some incredible strides in her career:

Paul Carr @PaulCarrTM

Mikaela Shiffrin now has 41 World Cup wins before turning 23, tying the record held by Annemarie Moser-Pröll. Lindsey Vonn won seven World Cup races before age 23.

Vonn will be desperate to make up for lost time, as an injury kept her out of contention four years earlier. With that in mind, she's taking no chances with her preparations, and as such, it's tough to get a thorough grasp on her form.

Shiffrin has been in excellent recent form.
Shiffrin has been in excellent recent form.ERICH SPIESS/Getty Images

Meanwhile, Austria's Marcel Hirscher will be hoping to finally add an Olympic gold to his impressive haul of titles, having previously won four World Championship events, 53 World Cup races and six crystal globes, which signify the standout performer over the course of a season.

However, he said missing out on glory at the Games is not something he'll get too worked up over.

"It won't change my life," Hirscher said, per the Associated Press (h/t Daily News). "Because if I had a choice between winning another globe or an Olympic gold medal, it is easy for me."