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Celebrate Olympic Day With 8 Ways U.S. Olympians And Paralympians Are United By Dance

By Todd Kortemeier | June 23, 2018, 12:26 p.m. (ET)

Among the many ways the International Olympic Committee is celebrating the 70th Olympic Day – observed annually on June 23 in honor of the founding of the modern Olympic movement – fans and athletes alike are encouraged to show off their Olympic spirit through dance. As part of the IOC’s United By campaign, fans can post videos of their Olympic Dance on social media using #OlympicDance.

And why not? Dance combines movement and individual expression into one unique art form, much like the Olympic Games themselves.

Dance has already been a part of many Olympic Games. What would an Olympic Opening Ceremony be without showing off some of the unique cultural dances of the host nation? Dance will even join the program at the Summer Youth Olympic Games Buenos Aires 2018 in October, when teenagers from around the world will compete in breakdancing.

Numerous Team USA athletes have shown off their moves over the years, whether it’s a celebratory dance or something more choreographed. Expect these athletes to show what they’ve got for Olympic Day.

Team USA Dances With The Stars

Olympians have strength, agility, body control and are used to performing in front of huge crowds. Sound like skills that might be useful on a certain reality competition show?

It’s perhaps no wonder that so many Team USA athletes – 31 Olympians, two Paralympians and a Youth Olympian – have tried their luck on “Dancing with the Stars” over the years, and six have even won it all: eight-time short track speedskating medalist Apolo Anton Ohno (season 4), 1992 gold medalist figure skater Kristi Yamaguchi (season 6), four-time gymnastics medalist Shawn Johnson (season 8), three-time medalist ice dancer Meryl Davis (season 18), two-time gymnastics medalist Laurie Hernandez (season 23) and bronze medalist figure skater Adam Rippon (season 26). Rippon won the most recent season, which was devoted to all athletes.


Amy Purdy Steals The Show In Rio, Without Even Competing

Amy Purdy was another Team USA athlete who competed on “Dancing with the Stars.” The Paralympic snowboarder, a three-time medalist, dazzled audiences with her performance on season 18, finishing runner-up to Davis. It earned her the opportunity to perform a five-minute dance solo at the Opening Ceremony for the Paralympic Games Rio 2016. Despite not being a trained dancer, having the unique challenge of dancing on prosthetic blades, and at 36 years old performing a lengthy solo for any dancer, her performance was one of the most memorable moments of the Rio Games.


U.S. Runs Medal Streak Dancing On Ice

Team USA medaled at ice dancing’s Olympic debut at the 1976 Innsbruck Games with Colleen O’Connor and Jim Millns’ bronze, but then it was a 30-year wait until Tanith Belbin and Benjamin Agosto took home silver in Torino. Since then, Team USA has medaled in ice dance at every subsequent Games, the only nation to medal at those four Games. Those four medals are highlighted by Davis and Charlie White becoming the first Americans to win gold in the event in 2014. Also competing at those Sochi Games were siblings Maia and Alex Shibutani, who earned their first medal in PyeongChang. The Shibutanis, three-time world medalists and two-time national champions, are taking 2018-19 off from competition, but will still be in the prime of their careers should they make a run at Beijing 2022.


Nathan Chen Leans On Dance Background

Nathan Chen can do things on the ice other figure skaters only dream about. It would have been something to see what he could have done had he traded in his skates for ballet slippers. Chen, the 2018 world champion, was a ballet student growing up in Salt Lake City, training in the sport for six-and-a-half years starting when he was 7 years old (here he is performing in “Sleeping Beauty”). Many of the skills that make a great skater — balance, strength, artistry — also make a great dancer, and Chen’s instructors believe he would have made it on stage had he opted to choose dance over skating.


Jessie Diggins Gets Funky To Loosen Up

Cross-country skier Jessie Diggins clearly loves to dance. She busted a move on her way up to the podium with teammate Kikkan Randall to collect their historic gold medal in PyeongChang. But while that may have been impromptu, Diggins knows her way around some choreography. Along with other members of the U.S. Ski Team, Diggins has recorded two hit dance videos. First it was Taylor Swift’s “I Knew You Were Trouble” in 2013, then a remarkably professional version of “Uptown Funk” in 2015. Diggins looks at the videos as a way to relax and take some stress out of the daily grind of being an Olympic-level athlete.


Kate Hansen Busts Out Queen Bey

Luger Kate Hansen came in 10th at the 2014 Olympics, but she came in first among members of the U.S. luge team most likely to be a backup dancer for Beyoncé. A dedicated member of the Beyhive, Dancin’ Kate Hansen listened and danced along to Beyoncé when preparing for her races in Sochi with some moves that were a hit on social media and NBC. They even earned her a shoutout from the Queen herself.


Chloe Kim Keeps It Chill

Even when she’s competing for a gold medal, halfpipe snowboarder Chloe Kim is going to be herself. If she’s hungry? She’s gonna let you know about it. Same goes for dancing it out at the top of the halfpipe. Keeping it loose clearly works for Chloe. She got that gold medal, and at 18, it’s not likely to be her last.


One Of The Newest Olympic Sports Is Dancing On Water

One of the four sports making its Olympic debut in Tokyo in two years is surfing, which it turns out could be more familiar to Olympic fans than you’d think. Professional surfer and two-time Championship Tour runner-up Courtney Conlogue, who is hoping to be one of two American women competing in Tokyo, compares the sport to dancing on water.

“If you’re just starting to watch it, just watch the beauty in the performance,” Conlogue explained to TeamUSA.org. “The lines we’re drawing are so intricate if you really watch the dynamic of the arms, the legs, everything we’re doing. It’s like a dance performance with a board under us. When you watch it, just think of it like a dance on water… Water is a soft mold and we’re literally moving it while performing.”

Todd Kortemeier is a sportswriter, editor and children’s book author from Minneapolis. He is a contributor to TeamUSA.org on behalf of Red Line Editorial, Inc.

Related Athletes

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Apolo Ohno

Short Track Speedskating
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Shawn Johnson

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Meryl Davis

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Laurie Hernandez

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Adam Rippon

Figure Skating
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Amy Purdy

US Paralympics
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Tanith Belbin

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Ben Agosto

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Charlie White

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Maia Shibutani

Figure Skating
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Alex Shibutani

Figure Skating
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Nathan Chen

Figure Skating
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Jessie Diggins

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Kate Hansen

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Chloe Kim