Going for the gold isn’t just a dream for the five athletes returning to defend their titles from the Olympic Winter Games Sochi 2014.
They’ve already been there, done that, and are now going back for more. They’ve survived the pressure that goes along with winning Olympic gold and in the past four years have gotten hungrier to get to PyeongChang and do it all over again.
With five days to go until the Opening Ceremony, here are the five returning Team USA gold medalists:
Jamie Anderson (slopestyle snowboarding): Anderson’s history-making gold medal in slopestyle snowboarding’s 2014 Olympic debut was no fluke. She’s coming back for seconds and every bit the threat that she was four years ago, with the added bonus that this year she’ll also compete in big air, new to 2018. Could she make history yet again? You never want to bet against the versatile and talented Anderson, who’s coming off a recent X Games gold in slopestyle and bronze in big air against much of the same competition she’ll see in PyeongChang.
Maddie Bowman (halfpipe skiing): Bowman was another history maker in 2014, winning the first-ever women’s halfpipe skiing competition. Like Anderson, Bowman has managed to stay at the top of the class in the years since, most recently winning her event at the X Games, and her technically sound runs combined with a greater focus on flow and incorporating additional elements make her a contender for a repeat medal. She likes to start her runs with a joke and a laugh, and she could soon have a very big reason to smile.
Ted Ligety (alpine skiing): The alpine skier owns not one but two Olympic gold medals, winning the first one 12 years ago in Torino in the combined event and the second one in Sochi in giant slalom. Now competing in his fourth Games, Ligety has battled injuries to his back, hip and knee since Sochi, but recently earned his first world cup podium in more than two years and showed he’s ready to go for gold No. 3.
Mikaela Shiffrin (alpine skiing): If you don’t know who Mikaela Shiffrin is, chances are you don’t know what skiing is. She’s the best all-around skier out there, and ever since she won the gold medal in slalom in 2014 at 18 years old, the question hasn’t been whether she’ll win another medal in PyeongChang, but how many. Slalom is still her most dominant event, followed closely by giant slalom, but she also won in downhill on the world cup circuit this season and came close to podium position in super-G. It seems anything’s possible when Shiffrin’s in the race.
David Wise (halfpipe skiing): Another who wrote a page in Olympic history in 2014 was Wise when he captured gold in men’s halfpipe skiing. At the X Games in late January, Wise proved he’s capable of doing it again when he beat out a field that included his three 2018 teammates as well as the silver and bronze medalists from Sochi to win his fourth title, upping the ante after landing four different double corks in four different directions for the first time ever in competition.