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Team USA’s Top 18 Men Of 2018

By Karen Price | Dec. 24, 2018, 12:01 a.m. (ET)


The men of Team USA found glory on snow and ice in 2018, but their success wasn’t confined to the venues of the of the Olympic and Paralympics Winter Games in PyeongChang. They also celebrated monumental accomplishments in the pool and the fencing arena, on the track, the golf course, the wrestling mat and the high bar and at the shooting range. Here’s a look at Team USA’s 18 top male athletes of 2018:

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Nathan Chen, Figure Skating

Chen won his second consecutive national title in men’s figure skating by a wide margin in January and, to the surprise of no one, was named to his first Olympic team. At just 18 years old, Chen and the U.S. opened by winning the team bronze medal. In the individual men’s competition, Chen bounced back from a disappointing short program to receive the highest score of the men’s free skate competition and move up 12 places to finish fifth overall. Not yet done, Chen went to the world championships a month later and dominated in both the short program and free skate to become the first world champion from the U.S. since Evan Lysacek in 2009 and the youngest world champion since Evgeni Plushenko in 2001. His score was 47.63 points ahead of the rest of the field, the greatest margin of victory under the current points system at the world championships, Olympic Winter Games or Grand Prix Final. To close out the year, Chen, now enrolled at Yale, won both his grand prix assignments and defended his title at the ISU Grand Prix Final.


Dan Cnossen, Para Nordic Skiing

The retired U.S. Navy SEAL was, quite simply, a force to be reckoned with at the Paralympics in March. After coming home from his first Paralympics in Sochi in 2014 without a medal, Cnossen won a total of six medals in PyeongChang — one for every event he entered — and was the most decorated male athlete of the Paralympics. The final tally was a gold in the 7.5-kilometer biathlon; silver medals in the 12.5K and 15K biathlon, and 10K and 15K cross-country races; and a bronze medal in the cross-country sprint. He also became the first U.S. man to win gold in biathlon at either the Olympic or Paralympic Games.


Christian Coleman, Track and Field

Named a finalist for the IAAF Male Athlete of the Year award, Coleman entered the season as the reigning world runner-up in the 100-meter and again ran the world’s best time at the distance. His winning time of 9.79 seconds in the 100-meter at the Diamond League Final was the fastest time since Usain Bolt ran it in the same time in 2015 and the seventh-fastest time in history. Coleman also broke the world record in winning the indoor 60-meter world title.


Eli Dershwitz, Fencing

Dershwitz won his second career world cup title in saber fencing in February, just four months after winning his first, and his season was about to get even better. At the world championships in July, Dershwitz beat the two-time Olympic champion in the quarterfinals and then came from behind in the semifinals to earn a spot in the championship match. He finished with the silver medal and in the process earned the No. 1 ranking in the world and the overall world cup title. The 2016 Olympian was just the second U.S. man to win a world championship medal and the first saber fencer to claim the overall title..


Red Gerard, Snowboarding

At just 17 years old, Gerard became the youngest snowboarder ever to win an Olympic medal when he won gold in men’s slopestyle. Gerard was in eighth place after his first two runs but laid down a blistering third and final run that included a backside triple cork 1440 to vault into first place. It was the first gold medal of the Olympics for Team USA. En route to Olympic glory he won two of five qualifying events and finished second in a third. Gerard also competed in big air at the Olympics and finished fifth.


Vincent Hancock, Shooting

Returning from a 17-month break from competition the two-time Olympic skeet champion won gold at a world cup event in March. By July he’d won two more to remain undefeated entering the ISSF World Championship in September in Changwon, South Korea. There he won his fourth world title in near-perfect fashion, hitting 125 of 125 targets in qualification to equal the world record and then missing only once in the final for a decisive win. He is the first man ever to win four skeet world titles, breaking his tie of three with the Soviet Union’s Jury Tsuranov and Abdullah Alrashidi of Kuwait.


Brooks Koepka, Golf

Although the Ryder Cup didn’t go as Team USA planned, Koepka had a remarkable individual season that included winning two majors and securing the No. 1 ranking in the world. First he successfully defended his U.S. Open title, becoming just the seventh player overall and first in 29 years to win back-to-back titles at the event. He followed that up with a victory at the PGA Championship, making him only the fifth player to win both the U.S. Open and PGA Championship in the same year. In October, a victory at the CJ Cup in South Korea allowed him to take over the No. 1 world ranking from Dustin Johnson for his first time ever at the top position.


Andrew Kurka, Para Alpine Skiing

Kurka’s first trip to the Paralympics ended before competition began when he crashed on a training run in Sochi in 2014. This year, he won the gold medal on the first day of competition when he captured the title in the men’s sitting downhill and did so with his largest margin of victory ever in a Paralympic downhill race. He became the first Alaskan athlete to win a gold medal at the Paralympics as well as the first American man to win gold in alpine skiing since 2006, but he wasn’t done there. Kurka followed that up with a silver medal in super-G and a seventh place finish in super combined.


Noah Lyles, Track and Field

At age 20, Lyles became the youngest U.S. men’s 100-meter champion in 34 years when he won the race with a time of 9.88 at the outdoor championships in June, at that point the fastest time of the year at the distance. He also went undefeated in the 200-meter in Diamond League competition over the summer en route to defending his title at the distance and joining Usain Bolt as the only men in history to run four sub-19.70 times in the 200 in one year. His fastest mark was 19.65 seconds, equaling the eighth-fastest time ever..


Chris Mazdzer, Luge

Mazdzer wasn’t expected to medal in PyeongChang. No American man had ever won a medal in singles luge at the Olympics, and Mazdzer, who finished 13th in both Vancouver and Sochi, wasn’t believed to be the one to end that drought given that he hadn’t won a world cup medal in two years and had been open about his struggles leading up to PyeongChang. His first two runs were strong, however, and he was in fourth place before a nearly flawless third run put him in medal position. He finished second — missing gold by less than three hundredths of a second — then went on to compete on “Dancing with the Stars.” Now racing doubles, Mazdzer and partner Jayson Terdiman won their first world cup medal this month in Lake Placid, New York.


Sam Mikulak, Gymnastics

The two-time Olympian finally got the individual world championship medal he’d been seeking for so long when he won the bronze on the high bar in Doha, Qatar this fall. In addition to winning bronze on high bar, the final event of the men’s competition, Mikulak was fourth in parallel bars, pommel horse and the team event, and seventh on the floor exercise. At fifth place in the all-around, he recorded the best finish by an American man at a major championship since the 2012 Olympics. It was Mikulak’s fourth appearance at the world championships. Over the summer Mikulak also won his fifth all-around national title, the first man to claim a fifth title in 18 years.


Ryan Murphy, Swimming

After a number of standout performances, including three gold medals at the Pan Pacific Championships, Murphy took home three honors at USA Swimming’s Golden Goggles Award, including the big one: Male Athlete of the Year. The Jacksonville, Florida, native swam the third-fastest time ever in the 100-meter backstroke with a new Pan Pacs record with a time of 51.94 and swam a personal best and event record 1:53.57 in the 200-meter backstroke. He also won gold with the 4x100 medley squad and was named swimmer of the meet. Earlier in the year, Murphy swept the 50-, 100- and 200-meter backstroke events at the Phillips 66 National Championships. Then he closed out 2018 by winning six medals at the short course world championships in December, including an individual gold medal in the 100 back.


Daniel Romanchuk, Para Track and Field

Already a Paralympian on the track, Romanchuk made history in November when he wheeled across the finish line first at the New York City Marathon. The 20-year-old Romanchuk became the first U.S. man to win the NYC Marathon wheelchair division, and he was also the youngest. The win capped off a season in which he placed third in London and then claimed his first major marathon victory in Chicago.


Mike Schultz, Para Snowboarding

Schultz made his Paralympic debut and started off big, going from Team USA’s flag bearer in the Opening Ceremony to winning the gold medal in the men’s LL1 snowboardcross competition. He went head-to-head against two-time world champion Chris Vos of the Netherlands in the final. When Vos went down early on, Schultz brought it home for the victory. He then went on to win the silver medal in the banked slalom. Upon returning home, Schultz won the ESPY this year for best male athlete with a disability. Off the snow, the 37-year-old is the founder of Biodapt, which makes prosthetics specially designed for adaptive action sports athletes.


David Taylor, Wrestling

Known as the “Magic Man,” the two-time NCAA champion from Penn State won the U.S. Open in the spring, made his first world team and also took first place at the Yasar Dogu tournament in July with four pins in four bouts at 86 kg. Then, at his first world championships in October, Taylor emerged as champion once again. He defeated Olympic gold medalist Hassan Yazdani of Iran in the opening match and finished by beating top seed Fatih Erdin of Turkey to win the gold.


Shaun White, Snowboarding

At 31 years old, White found himself once again at the pinnacle of men’s Olympic halfpipe snowboarding. In January, he got a perfect score on his last run at a U.S. Grand Prix event to qualify for an unprecedented fourth Olympic team. Then, in PyeongChang, the two-time champ was in the thick of the men’s halfpipe final but needed something spectacular on his third and final run in order to win. He delivered exactly that, including landing the frontside double cork 1440 and cab double cork 1440 in combination for the first time ever. That proved enough to hold off his younger opponents and win his third Olympic gold medal in halfpipe. It was also Team USA’s 100th gold medal in the history of the Winter Games. With it, White became the first snowboarder to win three gold medals (2006, 2010) after finishing fourth in Sochi in 2014.


Jordan Wilimovsky, Swimming

The versatile Wilimovsky had the top individual medal performance of any American male swimmer at the Pan Pacific Championships this year, taking gold in both the 1,500-meter freestyle for his first international medal and the open water 10-kilometer. In addition, he added a silver medal in the 800-meter freestyle. A 2016 Olympian, Wilimovsky also won the men’s 400-, 800- and 1,500-meter freestyles at the winter national championships, and took gold in the 1,500-meter freestyle and silver in the 800 at the Phillips 66 National Championships. For his efforts, Wilimovsky was a nominee for USA Swimming’s Golden Goggles Awards male athlete of the year honor.


David Wise, Freestyle Skiing

U.S. athletes and dramatic final runs seemed to go hand-in-hand in PyeongChang, and defending halfpipe skiing gold medalist Wise was no exception. He qualified for the men’s final in eighth place and lost a ski on each of his first two runs once there, but after a slight equipment adjustment he put down a tremendous last attempt that included two switch double-corked 1080s and two double-corked 1260s to win gold. He won two qualifying events in order to make his second Olympic team.


Karen Price is a reporter from Pittsburgh who has covered Olympic sports for various publications. She is a freelance contributor to TeamUSA.org on behalf of Red Line Editorial, Inc.

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