Along with so many moments of triumph for American women at the Olympic Winter Games PyeongChang 2018 came some tinged in sadness as some of the country’s best competed in what will likely be their last Olympic events.
Some, such as luge’s Erin Hamlin, had already announced their retirements prior to the Games. Others, such as snowboarding’s Kelly Clark, have not formally declared their departures but have indicated the likelihood.
Without a doubt, the following seven women have made a lasting impact on their respective sports. Whether or not they raced their last Olympic race or threw their last Olympic trick, their legacies will be felt for years to come.
Here’s a closer look at some of the legendary women we may have seen the last of competing on the Olympic stage in 2018:
Kelly Clark, 34, Snowboarding
Clark hasn’t officially announced her retirement from the sport but has indicated she’s leaning that direction – or at least may not make it onto another Olympic team in four years. After all, there’s really nothing left for Clark to accomplish in the sport that she hasn’t already accomplished several times over. Clark made her Olympic debut in 2002 and became the first American, man or woman, to win a gold medal in halfpipe snowboarding. By the time she competed in PyeongChang she was the only U.S. snowboarder of any gender to compete in five Olympic Games, and the first woman from any nation to do so. She finished in the top four in every one of her appearances, winning bronze medals in 2010 and 2014 to go along with her gold in 2002, and placing just outside the podium in 2006 and 2018. She was always a driving force behind the evolution of the sport, becoming the first woman to land a 1080, and Clark’s influence on women’s snowboarding will be felt for decades to come. Clark has mentored a new generation of riders, including gold medalist Chloe Kim, and in 2010 started her own foundation to help young snowboarders reach their potential.
Erin Hamlin, 31, Luge
There isn’t a man or woman whose name is more associated with the U.S. luge program than Hamlin. She’s the most decorated singles slider in U.S. luge history and last month became just the second U.S. women’s slider to compete in four Olympic Games. Hamlin became the first American woman to win a world title in 2009 and then became the first American, man or woman, to win an Olympic singles medal in the 50-year history of the sport when she captured bronze in Sochi in 2014. In 2017 she was still going strong, capturing her second world title in the sprint discipline as well as a world championship silver medal in singles and a silver as the lead leg in the team relay. Hamlin, who participates as an athlete mentor for Classroom Champions program and started the fundraiser “Locks for Luge,” was selected by her peers as Team USA’s flag bearer for the Opening Ceremony in 2018.
Jessica Kooreman, 34, Short Track Speedskating
Kooreman became Team USA’s oldest Olympic short track speedskater in 20 years when she qualified for the 2018 team. The former world champion inline skater made the switch to ice in 2008 and just missed out on making the 2010 team, going as an alternate instead. She finished on the world podium for the first time when the U.S. women won the silver medal in the 3,000-meter relay at the 2012 World Short Track Speed Skating Championships, and has since won two more world championship medals and 12 world cup medals, including three individual bronzes. Kooreman finally made her Olympic debut in 2014 in Sochi after winning all three events at the U.S. Olympic Trials. Kooreman finished fourth in the 1,000 in 2014 and sixth in the 1,500, then was 22nd in the 1,000 in PyeongChang.
Kikkan Randall, 35, Cross-Country Skiing
It was one of the most memorable moments of the Olympic Winter Games PyeongChang: Jessie Diggins sprinting to the finish line in the team sprint final and collapsing as Randall ran in and dropped to her knees to hug her teammate as the announcer went wild. Even someone who wasn’t aware of the sport’s or Randall’s history would have appreciated the emotion. It was not only the first Olympic medal for an American woman in cross-country, but it was gold and it came in Randall’s last race of her long career that spanned five Olympic Games. Randall was also the only mother on the 2018 U.S. Olympic Team. Persevering in a sport far from the limelight in the U.S., Randall won her first world cup race in 2007 and would go on to stand on the podium another 33 times. She won her first world championship medal in 2009 and then she and Diggins gave the U.S. its first world title winning the team sprint in 2013. Randall was recently elected to the International Olympic Committee’s Athletes’ Commission by her fellow athletes competing in PyeongChang. She hopes to use her position to address issues such as anti-doping and gender equality.
Abby Ringquist, 28, Ski Jumping
After an injury kept her from competing when women’s ski jumping debuted at the Olympic Winter Games in 2014, Ringquist finally jumped in her first and last Olympic Games in PyeongChang. She finished 23rd in the normal hill event, but her influence in the sport extends far beyond what she’s done on the hill. She was among the group of women who sued to get women’s ski jumping included in the Olympic program and has long been vocal about the sometimes-dramatic lack of gender equality in the sport worldwide. She has also been forthcoming about how difficult it is for women to fund their training in the sport, citing her own experience of working three jobs leading up to the Olympics in 2018 to help pay bills. She is now the face of a national fundraising campaign called #FundGirlsOntheRise by the non-profit 1,000 Dreams Fund that provides scholarships for female high school and college students in the U.S.
Liz Stephen, 31, Cross-Country Skiing
Stephen couldn’t contain the emotion in a post-race press conference in PyeongChang acknowledging that she just raced in the Olympics for the last time. The three-time Olympian finished 30th in the 10-kilometer, her sixth career Olympic race. The former alpine racer made her debut in Vancouver in 2010 and participated in five world championships in addition to three Olympics. Stephen stood on the world cup podium six times from 2012 to 2017, including a second-place finish at the PyeongChang Olympic test event in February 2017. She was also part of the relay team that placed fourth at the past three world championships, and has a best individual worlds result of fifth in the 2013 10-kilometer freestyle. Younger skiers such as Jessie Diggins have cited Stephen as a role model as the U.S. women’s program has continued to advance in recent years.
Lindsey Vonn, 33, Alpine Skiing
Vonn isn’t retired just yet. She’s set on beating Ingemar Stenmark’s record of 86 world cup victories before retiring, and after winning No. 82 in the world cup downhill final in mid-March she’s well within reach. Vonn has always made a point of saying she plans to be not just the best or most decorated female skier but the best, period. She competed in her fourth Olympics in PyeongChang after missing 2014 because of injury and won bronze in the downhill, becoming the oldest female alpine medalist in Olympic history. She also won gold in downhill and bronze in super-G in Vancouver in 2010. Vonn also started her own namesake foundation to empower girls through scholarships, athletics and education.