The three teams nominated for Olympic Team of the Year, presented by Dow, proved themselves champions at their respective sports’ highest levels this year.
The bobsled team of Elana Meyers Taylor and Kehri Jones, the U.S. women’s ice hockey team and the U.S. women’s water polo team are all world champions, but only one can be named Team of the Year.
Winners will be announced at the Team USA Awards, Best of Year, which takes place on Nov. 29 in Los Angeles and will be broadcast on Dec. 23 on NBC.
Fans can vote as many times as they’d like through end of day Oct. 30. The fan vote will account for 50 percent of the final tally, with members of the Olympic and Paralympic family accounting for the other 50 percent.
Here is a closer look at the three 2017 nominees for Olympic Team of the Year:
Elana Meyers Taylor and Kehri Jones
What They Did This Year: Driver Meyers Taylor and brakewoman Jones gave Team USA its second world title in women’s bobsled, after Meyers Taylor and Cherrelle Garrett won in 2015, and its first double podium (Jamie Greubel Poser and Aja Evans eanred bronze). Two-time Olympian Meyers Taylor has now medaled at five consecutive world championships, while it was the first ever for Jones. The duo also earned three world cup medals.
Why It Mattered: Meyers Taylor continues to be the backbone of the U.S. women’s bobsled program, winning her eighth world or Olympic medal in the past nine years. She has had a role in half of the 12 world medals that U.S. women have won in the sport.
Fun Fact: Meyers Taylor, who is known for recruiting athletes to bobsled (including Olympic track stars Lolo Jones and Lauryn Williams), was dubbed “Most Likely To Convert a Tennis Player” at the 2017 Team USA Media Summit last month after saying she’d love to get Serena Williams pushing a sled.
What’s Next: After winning a bronze medal in Vancouver in 2010 and silver medal in Sochi in 2014, Meyers Taylor will look to drive a U.S. sled to gold in PyeongChang in 2018, which would mark Team USA’s first gold in the event in 16 years. Bobsled competition begins Feb. 18.
U.S. Women’s Ice Hockey National Team
Key Players: Hilary Knight, Meghan Duggan, Brianna Decker
What They Did This Year: The U.S. women started off the 2016-17 season with their second-straight Four Nations Cup title and ended it by beating Canada with an overtime goal by Knight to win the world championship for the fourth time in a row and the first time ever on home ice.
Why It Mattered: In the longstanding rivalry between the U.S. and Canada, the U.S. continues to own bragging rights at the world championships, winning seven of the last eight titles and all against Canada in the gold-medal game. However, Canada has won gold at the last four Olympics, and in 2018 the U.S. is seeking its first Olympic victory since the sport’s debut 20 years ago.
Fun Fact: After winning eight silver medals in a row at the world championships from 1990 through 2004, the U.S. has won gold in eight of the last 10 tournaments. They’ve never finished lower than second.
What’s Next: The team’s The Time is Now Tour begins Oct. 25 and continues throughout the fall, including three games against arch rival Canada and the Four Nations Cup in preparation for PyeongChang. The U.S. will face Finland in the Olympic opener on Feb. 11.
U.S. Women’s Water Polo World Championship Team
Key Players: Maggie Steffens, Maddie Musselman, Rachel Fattal
What They Did This Year: With a team that included six newcomers and seven veterans off the gold-medal winning 2016 Olympic team, the U.S. women continued their reign in the pool by winning their record-extending fifth world championship and second in a row.
Why It Mattered: Olympic champions don’t historically do well the next year in women’s water polo. Not only was the U.S. team the first to win a world title the year after winning Olympic gold, it was the first to even reach the medal round.
Fun Fact: The U.S. women’s team currently holds every major title in the sport: Olympic Games, FINA World Championship, FINA World Cup, FINA World League and Pan American Games.
What’s Next: The top collegiate women’s water polo teams will compete with the USA Water Polo senior national team in a two-day event beginning Nov. 4.