From the Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games in February and March in South Korea to the Summer Youth Olympic Games in October in Argentina, Team USA athletes were busy leaving their mark on the world all year long and in every corner of the globe.
The United States Olympic Committee sent 405 athletes to those three Games and 114 of those athletes left with a count of 77 medals. American athletes also earned 90 Olympic- and Paralympic-event world championship medals in summer sports as they gear up for the Olympic Games Tokyo 2020. To show that Tokyo is top of mind, Team USA spent the second half of the year securing over two dozen quota spots for the Olympic Games.
Let’s take a closer look at some of the numbers that stood out this year for Team USA:
Olympic Medals: 23
Team USA was seen making history left and right at the Olympic Winter Games PyeongChang 2018 in February. The medals started rolling in for the United States on the second full day of competition when 17-year-old Red Gerard won gold in slopestyle snowboarding to become the youngest Olympic snowboarding medalist ever. By the end of the Games, the U.S. had won 23 medals: nine golds, eight silvers and six bronzes. A whopping 58 athletes took home medals, including 39 who stood on an Olympic podium for the first time. Showing success across the board, the U.S. medaled in 11 of 15 sport disciplines, the most of any nation in PyeongChang. While 16 of the medals came in individual events, American teams shone brighter than ever. The underdog Team Shuster won the country’s first curling gold medal in Olympic history, Jessie Diggins and Kikkan Randall took the team sprint title in the final second for the first cross-country skiing gold in U.S. history, the U.S. women’s ice hockey team earned its first Olympic gold in 20 years, the U.S. women’s long track speedskating team pursuit squad won the first women’s long track medal in 12 years, the U.S. women’s bobsled team continued its trend of being the only nation to medal at every Games since the sport’s debut in 2002, and Maia and Alex Shibutani became the first ice dancers of Asian descent to earn an Olympic medal. Individually, snowboarder Shaun White earned Team USA’s 100th gold medal in Winter Games history, Chloe Kim became the youngest women’s snowboarding gold medalist ever, Lindsey Vonn became the oldest women’s alpine skiing medalist, alpine skier Mikaela Shiffrin tripled her Olympic medal count with a gold and a silver, slopestyle snowboarder Jamie Anderson and halfpipe skier David Wise successfully defended their 2014 golds with Anderson also taking silver in the debut of big air, and Chris Mazdzer became the first U.S. luger to medal in men’s singles.
Paralympic Medals: 36
Not to be outdone, the 2018 U.S. Paralympic Team had its own unprecedented showing of success when action resumed in Korea in March. For the first time since 1992, the U.S. won both the overall and gold medal counts with 36 medals (13 golds, 15 silvers, eight bronzes). In fact, Team USA took hold of both on the first day and never let go of the lead in either count through all nine days of competition. The medal tally marked Team USA’s best performance at a Winter Games hosted outside the U.S. since 1994. The U.S. Nordic Skiing Team had its best performance ever – by a long shot. In 2002 Team USA earned five medals in the sport; in 2018 it took home 16. On the first day of competition Kendall Gretsch and Dan Cnossen made history when they won the first biathlon golds for their nation in Olympic or Paralympic history. Cnossen would leave the Games with a whopping six medals, one in every event he entered. Oksana Masters earned five to become the most decorated woman in PyeongChang; her haul included the first gold of her career, which came six medals into it. Alpine skier Andrew Kurka earned his first two Paralympic medals – gold in downhill and silver in super-G – and became the first U.S. man to win gold in the sport in 12 years. The snowboarding team saw immense success. The sport made its Paralympic debut four years prior with one men’s event and one women’s event in snowboardcross and Team USA earning four medals; with the addition of banked slalom and separate medal events per classification, this time the team won 13 medals. Noah Elliott, Brenna Huckaby, Mike Minor, Amy Purdy and Mike Schultz all took home two medals, with Huckaby sweeping the golds in her events. The final medal of the Games came from the sled hockey team, and for an unprecedented third consecutive time it was gold.
Olympians And Paralympians In PyeongChang: 318
The 2018 U.S. Olympic Team marked the largest delegation any nation has ever sent to an Olympic Winter Games. The 244 athletes – 107 women and 135 men – participated in 97 of 102 medal events. The team was led by five-time Olympians Kelly Clark, Shani Davis and Kikkan Randall, with snowboarder Clark and cross-country skier Randall becoming the first five-time female U.S. winter Olympians, and Davis the first U.S. speedskater to compete at five Games. Randall earned her first Olympic medal, a gold, at her final Games. The team consisted of 16 Youth Olympians, the most ever for a U.S. Olympic Team. It was also the most diverse U.S. winter team on record, with 10 African-Americans, 11 Asian-Americans and the first two openly gay male athletes (Gus Kenworthy and Adam Rippon) to represent Team USA at the Winter Games. The team included seven sets of siblings (including ice hockey twins Jocelyne Lamoureux-Davidson and Monique Lamoureux-Morando), seven members of the U.S. Army’s World Class Athlete Program, 21 parents (20 fathers, one mother in Randall) and one married couple (pairs figure skaters Alexa Scimeca-Knierim and Chris Knierim). The 2018 U.S. Paralympic Team consisted of 54 men and 20 women, including six guides for visually impaired athletes. The majority of the team – 41 athletes – was returning Paralympians, who had earned 39 medals entering PyeongChang. The most decorated athlete on the team going into the Games was alpine skier Laurie Stephens, who had six medals prior and earned a seventh in PyeongChang. She was surpassed by the end by Oksana Masters, who left with five medals for a career total of eight. Sled hockey goalie Steve Cash, and alpine skiers Stephens and Tyler Walker have competed at every Winter Games since 2006; all three medaled in PyeongChang. Masters and fellow Nordic skier Aaron Pike have been on every Paralympic team, summer and winter, since 2012. The team included 18 military veterans (eight of whom medaled), 17 parents (13 fathers, four mothers) and one married couple (alpine skiers Danelle and Rob Umstead).
Youth Olympic Medals: 18
The future of the Olympic Movement gained valuable experience competing in Buenos Aires, Argentina, the first Games held in the country and the first Summer Youth Olympic Games held outside of Asia. Team USA took home 18 medals (six golds, five silvers, seven bronzes), and U.S. athletes contributed to five in mixed-country team events, which are unique to the Youth Games. The U.S. competed in 21 sports and medaled in 15 of those. Five Americans left the Games as multi-medalists, including golfer Akshay Bhatia, who won silver for the U.S. in both the individual men’s event and the mixed team event. The U.S. women’s 3x3 basketball team successfully defended its gold medal earned four years prior in Nanjing, China. Emily Shilson’s gold marked not only the country’s first of the Games but also the first gold and first women’s medal for USA Wrestling in Youth Olympic history. Bronze medalist Peyton Brown won USA Weightlifting’s first medal in Youth Olympic history. Trenton Cowles secured gold for the best U.S. finish by an archer in Youth Olympic or Olympic history since 1996. Table tennis player Kanak Jha took bronze to become the first U.S. man to medal at a Youth Olympic or Olympic Games. Bridget O’Neil earned bronze in women’s 3-meter springboard diving nearly a century after her great-uncle won Olympic rugby golds in 1920 and 1924.
Olympic-Event Summer World Championship Medals: 52
With less than two years to the Olympic Games Tokyo 2020, many summer-sport athletes are eager to prove themselves on the international stage and U.S. athletes did just that in 2018, racking up 52 world medals in events that will be contested in Tokyo. That total is comprised of 21 gold medals (more than any other nation in this count), 12 silvers and 19 bronzes in a year where world championships were not held for a few major sports such as swimming and track and field. Gymnast Simone Biles contributed six medals to the count and became the first American woman ever to medal in all six gymnastics events and the first from any nation to do so since 1987. Morgan Hurd also contributed two individual medals at the event, and Sam Mikulak won the lone medal on the men’s side. The U.S. medaled in three team sports this year with gold in women’s basketball and women’s softball, and bronze in men’s volleyball for the team’s first world medal in 24 years. Four U.S. women’s rowing teams medaled, led by golds in women’s eight and women’s four (which makes a long-awaited Olympic return in 2020). The U.S. jumping team earned the first world title for the U.S. since 1986, with two other medals claimed at World Equestrian Games. American wrestlers earned six medals in Olympic weight classes, including a gold by David Taylor in his worlds debut, while women’s boxers claimed two bronzes at Olympic weights. Katie Zaferes rose to silver, after finishing fifth then fourth then third in previous years, at triathlon worlds. Kate Courtney became the first U.S. women’s mountain bike world champion in 17 years. Team USA had its best performance ever at fencing worlds, taking home six medals, including historic golds in women’s team epee and women’s team foil. Americans also swept the podium in three sports. Perris Benegas, Angie Marino and Hannah Roberts swept the podium in women’s BMX park, which makes its Olympic debut in 2020; Justin Dowell won the men’s title. Alex Sorgente, Tristan Rennie and Tom Schaar swept men’s skateboarding park, which also debuts in Tokyo, as Americans took home eight skateboarding medals. Caitlin Connor, Kim Rhode and Amber English swept the women’s skeet podium at shooting worlds, while Vincent Hancock won his record fourth world title and Michael McPhail earned his first world medal, a bronze, in three-position rifle.
Paralympic-Event Summer World Championship Medals: 38
Para athletes ramped up their preparation for the Tokyo 2020 Games with 38 summer world-level medals in events that are on the 2020 Paralympic program, including 14 golds (third most of any nation), nine silvers and 15 bronzes. Para-cyclists earned 23 medals across road and track world championships. With 15 (nine gold medals, four silvers, two bronzes) earned at road worlds, Team USA was second in the overall medal count. Will Groulx and Oz Sanchez tied for the team’s most decorated athletes at the event with two golds and a silver apiece. At track cycling worlds, Americans earned eight medals (two golds, six bronzes), including world titles from Joe Berenyi and Jamie Whitmore. U.S. paratriathletes and Para-equestrians each earned four Paralympic-event medals at their world championships. Allysa Seely had an undefeated season and won a third paratriathlon world title in the PTS2 class, followed by teammate Hailey Danz in third. Aaron Scheidies took silver in men’s PTVI for his 10th world medal, while Grace Norman earned bronze in women’s PTS5. The four Para-dressage medals earned by Rebecca Hart (silver, bronze), Roxanne Trunnell (bronze) and Kate Shoemaker (bronze) marked the first in program history for Team USA. Just as it did on the Olympic side, the U.S. medaled in three team sports: silvers in women’s sitting volleyball and men’s wheelchair basketball, and bronze in wheelchair rugby.
Olympic Spots Earned For Tokyo 2020: 27
Qualification for the Olympic Games Tokyo 2020 began exactly two years prior to the Games when U.S. sailors secured the country Olympic spots in three classes – Laser, Laser Radial and men’s 470 – at their world championship in early August 2018. Before athletes can make the 2020 U.S. Olympic Team by name, the country must first earn quota spots in each Olympic event, a process that started this year and will continue through the summer of 2020. The U.S. earned its first 27 quotas this year. Shortly after sailing, the U.S. softball team became the first team – of any nation and any sport – to earn a spot in Tokyo for its sport’s Olympic return when it won the world title. The U.S. women’s basketball team later won the World Cup title and guaranteed its spot there as well. The women’s gymnastics team also won its world title to lock up a team spot and four quotas. With a gold and a silver at the World Equestrian Games, the U.S. jumping and dressage teams made quick work of their qualification options and will each send three equestrians to Tokyo for both individual and team competitions. USA Shooting locked up its first four Olympic quotas – two in women’s skeet and one each in men’s skeet and men’s three-position rifle – at the world championship in September. Two months later it added an additional eight quotas at Championship of the Americas for 12 to date of a potential 24 individual quotas. The U.S. has already guaranteed the maximum two shooters in three events.