With Rio now in the rearview mirror, and PyeongChang more than a year away, one might be forgiven for overlooking 2017.
But Olympic fans have no shortage of viewing options in the meantime, especially as the 2016-17 winter season picks up. Top U.S. winter athletes still have plenty of major events coming up, both at home and abroad, including the Winter X Games and various Olympic test events and world championships.
Here are 10 superstar winter athletes looking to make their mark in the final full season before the next Olympic Winter Games:
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Jamie Anderson, Snowboarding
The reigning Olympic slopestyle champion has started off this season doing what she does so well: winning. Anderson earned her sixth world cup podium finish — and sixth win — at the big air competition at the U.S. Grand Prix at Copper Mountain in Colorado for her second big air win in a year, to go along with four career slopestyle victories. With big air set to debut at PyeongChang in 2018, look for Anderson to continue to establish herself as the one to beat in 2017. Among the big events of 2017 is one Anderson knows well: the Winter X Games, held Jan. 26-29. She’s the most decorated rider in X Games slopestyle history with 11 medals. Also highlighted on the competition schedule is the U.S. Grand Prix stop at Mammoth Mountain, California, which will serve as the first of five Olympic selection events for U.S. snowboarders and freeskiers.
Heather Bergsma, Long Track Speedskating
Although this season won’t influence qualification for the 2018 Games in speedskating, it will nonetheless be an important one as athletes establish a base building up to the fall. Bergsma earned 18 world cup medals last season and is already off to a strong start in 2016-17 with six medals so far, five of which are gold. In her first three world cups of the season, she reached the podium in both the 1,000-meter and 1,500-meter in all three. She is the current world cup overall leader despite sitting out the meet in Kazakhstan. Important dates of the long track season include Feb. 9-12, when the World Single Distances Championships will serve as the Olympic test event for the Gangneung Oval in South Korea; the World Sprint Championships held Feb. 25-26 in Calgary, Alberta; and the ISU World Cup Speed Skating Final, which will be at a location to be determined. Bergsma is currently the world-record holder in the 1,500, having set it last season.
Brittany Bowe, Long Track Speedskating
It’s been a difficult six months for Bowe, who suffered a concussion during a training session in July and only recently returned to competition following a five-month recovery period. She is the defending world cup champion in the 1,000- and 1,500-meter but missed the first half of this season’s series before returning to world cup racing in December in the Netherlands. She made the podium, finishing with a bronze medal in the 1,000, but faces a difficult path against competition including Bergsma. The world cup series returns Jan. 27-29 in Berlin, Germany. Bowe is currently the world-record holder in the 1,000, having set it last season.
Shani Davis, Long Track Speedskating
At 34 years old, Davis recorded his best finish of the season – a silver – in December and earned his first world cup medal in the 1,000-meter since the 2013-14 season, finishing just 0.36 seconds behind the series leader. He’s the third-oldest world cup medalist at that distance ever, and should Davis continue to post similar results the second half of the season he could set himself up as a contender to return to the Winter Games for the fifth time. That medal made Davis the all-time leader in world cup points, surpassing four-time Olympian Jeremy Wotherspoon of Canada, who competed from February 1996 through March 2010. Davis has amassed 98 world cup medals, including two so far this season. Davis, the 2006 and 2010 Olympic champion at 1,000 meters, has said his goal for the season is to be in the hunt for the podium. His last major title came in 2015, when he won the 1,000-meter at the world championships.
Jamie Greubel Poser, Bobsled
The 2014 Olympic bronze medalist has continued to enjoy success on the world cup circuit, earning her eighth medal in 10 worlds cups when she and brakeman Aja Evans won gold and smashed the track record at Lake Placid, New York, in mid-December. It was her first time pairing with Evans since the Sochi Games. Greubel Poser already said her goal is to break more track records this season. The world cup circuit moved to Europe, with two more events in Germany and one in Austria over the month of January. The Igls World Cup will be held Jan. 30-Feb. 5 before the two big events of the season: the world championships in Koenigssee, Germany Feb. 13-26 and the PyeongChang World Cup March 13-19, when athletes will get a look to experience the track they’ll be racing on 11 months later for Olympic glory. Greubel Poser is second in the world cup rankings, trailing two-time Olympic champion Kaillie Humphries of Canada by 41 points.
Lindsey Jacobellis, Snowboarding
No name is more synonymous with women’s snowboardcross than Lindsey Jacobellis, who to date has collected one Olympic silver medal, 10 Winter X Games gold medals and four world titles en route to becoming the most decorated athlete in the sport. A veteran of three Olympic Winter Games, Jacobellis was second at two world cups last season and took gold at the X Games Aspen last January in a field that included the 2014 Olympic champion. She was third in this season’s world cup opener in mid-December and is third on the world cup leaderboard. Not only will Jacobellis look to defend her X Games gold in 2017, she’ll also be defending her 2015 world championship title. The world championships, held every odd year, will be held March 5-19 in Sierra Nevada, Spain. Jacobellis has won four of the last six snowboardcross world titles. Another important date is Jan. 19, when boardercross athletes will compete in the U.S. Grand Prix stop at Solitude Mountain Resort in Utah.
Chloe Kim, Snowboarding
The world certainly seems to belong to Kim when it comes to women’s halfpipe. She won her sixth straight international halfpipe competition when she was victorious at the U.S. Grand Prix in mid-December, ending her year with seven wins in eight events and further proving that as PyeongChang approaches the gold medal may be hers to lose. The 16-year-old’s wins included the Winter Youth Olympic Games (both halfpipe and slopestyle) and the X Games in Aspen and Oslo, and she heads to Aspen beginning on Jan. 26 looking to three-peat as champion. Other chances for Kim to stake her claim this season include Feb. 2-3 at Mammoth Mountain, her home turf in California, for a grand prix stop as well as the world championships beginning on March 5 in Sierra Nevada.
Elana Meyers Taylor, Bobsled
After missing half of last season recovering from long-term effects of a concussion and then crashing in the world cup season opener at Whistler, British Columbia, Meyers Taylor teamed with Lolo Jones to close out 2016 with a silver medal at Lake Placid. Their time was just barely off that of Greubel Poser and Evans, separated by 0.14 seconds. She started the new year with a silver in Altenberg, Germany, with Kehri Jones, which moved her up to sixth in the standings. Last year, defending titleholder Meyers Taylor took bronze for the United States’ only medal in the world championships and will look to reclaim the top spot at the end of February.
Maia and Alex Shibutani, Figure Skating
The siblings from Ann Arbor, Michigan, have seen their careers rise steadily ever since finishing ninth at the Sochi Games, and 2016 saw them score a number of personal bests and firmly establish themselves as the American duo to beat in the lead-up to PyeongChang. They entered the 2016-17 season as the defending U.S. champions and world silver medalists. The pair won bronze in the Grand Prix Final in mid-December after collecting two golds earlier in the series. Now they are preparing to defend their national title when the U.S. Figure Skating Championships begin on Jan. 17 in Kansas City, skating to “That’s Life” by Frank Sinatra and Jay-Z in their short dance and “Evolution” by various artists in their free dance. The World Figure Skating Championships this year will begin on March 29 in Helsinki, Finland.
Mikaela Shiffrin, Alpine Skiing
It would be difficult to imagine a better close to 2016 for Shiffrin, who secured her third world cup victory in as many days when she won the slalom on Dec. 29. She won seven slalom races in a row before her streak ended on Jan. 3, and then returned to the top of the podium at the next race on Jan. 8. She also won the final two giant slalom races of 2016. Shiffrin is the world cup standings leader and is vying to become just the fifth American to win the world cup overall title. This year’s FIS World Cup Finals will be held in Aspen from March 15-19.
Karen Price is a reporter from Pittsburgh who has covered Olympic sports for various publications. She is a freelance contributor to TeamUSA.org on behalf of Red Line Editorial, Inc.