As 2017’s ides of March approach, Olympic sports fans can look forward with eagerness as many world champions in a variety of sports will be decided, bringing with them the drama and excitement that comes only from sports competition.
Team USA won 15 world championship medals in February alone. How many more can it add in March?
Here are 10 of the most compelling storylines to pay attention to:
1) March Could Yield Plenty Of Hardware For Lindsey Jacobellis
Snowboardcross rider Lindsey Jacobellis’ season will end with a flurry of March activity, but the result could be some impressive hardware. Two more world cup stops (March 5 in La Molina, Spain, and March 25’s season finale in Veysonnaz, Switzerland) give her the chance to improve her current fourth place in the standings, only 120 points away from third and a seventh career top-three world cup finish. The three-time Olympian and 2006 silver medalist will look to defend her world championship March 12 in Sierra Nevada, Spain; a win would give her an unprecedented fifth world title.
2) Bohonnon, Caldwell, McKinnon Lead Americans Into Aerials Worlds
Mac Bohonnon, Ashley Caldwell and Kiley McKinnon will lead Team USA’s entries into the aerials world championships March 10 in Sierra Nevada, Spain. Riding momentum from her seventh career world cup podium last month in Deer Valley, Utah, McKinnon enters the contest as a reigning silver medalist after a 2015 that also saw her claim the world cup crystal globe. A 2014 Olympian and 2015 world cup overall champion, Bohonnon recorded one of two podiums this season at February’s Olympic test event in PyeongChang, South Korea, and finished in the top eight in all five world cup starts this season. Caldwell, a two-time Olympian who won the Lake Placid World Cup this season, is seeking her first world medal after fourth-place finishes in 2011 and 2015.
3) Young Gun Red Gerard Looks To Prove His Mettle For A Medal
Sixteen-year-old slopestyle snowboarder Red Gerard already figures to be one of the youngest members of the 2018 U.S. Olympic Team, and one of the first U.S. winter Olympians born in the 2000s. Gerard could easily put himself in Olympic medal conversation with a solid performance at the March 9-11 world championships. He first impressed last season when he was fifth at the 2015 Dew Tour at age 15, as well as fifth at the U.S. Open. This season, he earned his first world cup win at Mammoth Mountain, California, which also served as the first Olympic qualifier. At his other two slopestyle world cups, Gerard was third in Kreischberg, Austria, and fourth in Laax, Switzerland.
4) Short Track Speedskating Team Seeks Return To The Podium
When the short track speedskating world championships head to Rotterdam, Netherlands, March 10-12, Team USA will be hungry for a return to the podium. The last time an American medaled at the world championships was 2014 when J.R. Celski earned two distance medals and won the overall silver medal, and Jessica Kooreman (then Smith) was second in the 3,000-meter, a non-Olympic distance. The team in Rotterdam is likely to include Celski, a three-time Olympic medalist, and Kooreman, who finished fourth in the 1,000 at her Olympic debut three years ago, as well as powerhouses like John-Henry Krueger and Katherine Reutter. Krueger and Celski each won an individual world cup medal this season, and both were on the men’s relay team that was third at the Olympic test event in December. Competing at her first worlds in six years after a three-year retirement, Reutter will be seeking her eighth world championships medal.
5) Will Veterans Clark And White Prevail For Halfpipe World Titles?
Chloe Kim hopes to add a world championship to her 2017 world cup crystal globe and two Youth Olympic Games gold medals when the snowboard halfpipe world championships take place March 11 in Sierra Nevada. She reeled off eight straight wins in 2016-17 to score her first world cup season title, but must regain momentum after closing the season with a pair of fourth-place finishes. If she doesn’t, four-time Olympian Kelly Clark is ready to pounce. Olympic champion at the 2002 Games, Clark won the last two world cup events, including her fourth Olympic test event win.
Another field loaded with Americans will be chasing Australia’s Scotty James for the men’s title. If he competes, three-time Olympian Shaun White has thrust himself back into the mix by taking third in the world cup standings, just behind teammate Chase Josey, who scored two of his three three career podium finishes this season. While the team hasn’t been named yet, Youth Olympic Games halfpipe champions Ben Ferguson (2012) and Jake Pates (2016) are in the running, as are veterans Greg Bretz, Louie Vito and Ryan Wachendorfer to give Team USA depth.
6) Stacked American Field Will Battle For Ski Halfpipe World Title
When it comes to assessing the odds for March 18’s ski halfpipe world championship in Sierra Nevada, it’s a pretty safe bet that Team USA will be represented on both the men’s and women’s podiums. After all, four of the top six women and five of the top 10 men in world cup standings are American.
2014 Olympians Annalisa Drew, Devin Logan, Maddie Bowman and Brita Sigourney all hope to give Team USA’s women their first medal since Jen Hudak’s 2011 silver in Deer Valley, Utah. Drew is second in world cup rankings, while Olympic slopestyle silver medalist Logan, Bowman and Sigourney are fourth through sixth, respectively. Any one of them could challenge France’s Marie Martinod, the Olympic halfpipe silver medalist who was undefeated on the world cup circuit.
For the men, 2013 worlds silver medalist Torin Yater-Wallace and Aaron Blunck are top hopefuls, but Team USA is deep, including reigning Olympic champion and 2013 world champion David Wise, Olympic slopestyle silver medalist Gus Kenworthy and Taylor Seaton, who earned his second world cup podium Feb. 4 at Mammoth Mountain, California. Team USA’s men have medaled at the last three worlds, including gold at the last two – Wise in 2013 and Kyle Smaine in 2015.
7) Jamie Anderson, Julia Marino And Hailey Langland Look For Worlds Big Air Or Slopestyle Snowboarding Sweep
The world cup title in women’s snowboard big air went to Austria’s Anna Gasser, but Team USA’s Jamie Anderson, Julia Marino and Hailey Langland all have a shot at knocking her from the podium’s top step March 17 at the world championships in Sierra Nevada. In fact, they could sweep – in both big air, which makes its Olympic debut next year, and slopestyle. The American trio has already swept the podium once this season, at the first slopestyle Olympic qualifier, where Langland led, followed by Marino, then Anderson. All three won X Games medals this year in Aspen, Colorado, and all three have been on world cup podiums in both big air and slopestyle. Between them, they totaled 14 podiums in 10 events so far this season.
8) McRae Williams Ready To Make A Statement At Potential Worlds Debut
Slopestyle skier McRae Williams narrowly missed making the 2014 U.S. Olympic Team, and now he is back with a vengeance and ready to make it to next year’s Olympics in PyeongChang, South Korea. Williams has podiumed at both events he entered so far this season: He scored his career-first world cup victory in January in Font Romeu, France, and two weeks later he earned silver at X Games Aspen. If he does compete at the world championships March 17-19, he will hope to make his worlds debut a memorable one.
9) Nina Roth Rink Vies for Women’s Curling World Championship in Beijing
The Nina Roth rink emerged from a season-long points race last month to earn the right to represent Team USA at the 2017 Women’s World Curling Championships March 18-26 in Beijing. Roth and teammates Tabitha Peterson, Aileen Geving and Becca Hamilton will look to be the first U.S. team to advance to the championship game since 2006. American women have reached the final six times, with the lone gold medal coming in 2003 in Winnipeg, Manitoba.
10) Team USA Will Impact Medals Hunt At Figure Skating World Championships
Team USA heads to Helsinki at the end of the month with eyes on a potential medal haul at the 2017 World Figure Skating Championships, March 29-April 2. Fresh from making history as the first to land five quads in international competition while taking gold at last month’s Four Continents Championships, Nathan Chen, 17, bested reigning Olympic champion and four-time worlds medalist Yuzuru Hanyu of Japan and Canada’s three-time world champion Patrick Chan, and is now ready to face two-time defending world champion Javier Fernandez of Spain.
2014 Olympian Ashley Wagner broke a 10-year medal drought for the U.S. women when she earned silver last year in Boston, and looks to add another medal to her collection this year.
After a double podium last year, Team USA’s ice dance entries may find this year’s field a bit more challenging with the return of two-time world and 2010 Olympic champions Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir of Canada. Siblings Maia and Alex Shibutani, the reigning world silver medalists, earned their first Grand Prix Final medal in December, then reached the Four Continents podium for the third straight year with a silver last month. Madison Chock and Evan Bates come to Helsinki with medals at the past two worlds, a silver in 2015 and bronze last year and took bronze at Four Continents.
In addition to world medals, Olympic quota spots are on the line in Helsinki. Countries with competitors whose two top finishes equal 13 or lower will receive three quotas in that discipline at the PyeongChang 2018 Olympic Winter Games, while those with two combined placements equaling 28 (or lower up to 14) will have two quotas for PyeongChang.