Team USA’s Women Athletes are Winning Big in PyeongChang

Team USA has moved up to fourth place in medals won at the 2018 Winter Olympics in PyeongChang after sitting in sixth for several days—and the nation has women to thank for it.

Team USA has thus far won 21 medals in total: eight gold, seven silver and six bronze. Of those, 12 were brought in solely by female athletes. Of the eight gold medals, women from Team USA have brought in five. That’s not even counting the two additional medals that female athletes contributed to, like the bronze for siblings Maia and Alex Shibutani in ice dancing and the bronze for the figure skating team event.

The women of Team USA are a tour de force at the Olympics. To top it off, many of these female medal winners are also record-breakers, too.

Chloe Kim (Andy Miah / Creative Commons)

17-year-old Chloe Kim became the youngest Olympic halfpipe medalist when she took home gold in the women’s snowboarding event. 33-year-old Lindsey Vonn became the oldest female skier to medal in alpine skiing at the games with her bronze win in the women’s downhill event.

Kikkan Randall and Jessie Diggins, with their close win in the women’s cross-country team sprint, are the first ever American athletes to earn gold in cross-country skiing. A gold medal in women’s slopestyle snowboarding and silver in women’s big air snowboarding made Jamie Anderson the first female snowboarder to win two medals at a single Olympics.

Mikaela Shiffrin’s gold in the women’s giant slalom and silver in the women’s combined skiing, in combination with her gold win at the 2014 Winter Olympics, makes her one of only four U.S. Olympians with three or more medals in alpine skiing. And Elana Meyers Taylor’s silver win with teammate Lauren Gibbs makes her one of only two women in the world with three Olympic bobsled medals. (She is also now one of the three most decorated bobsledders in the U.S.—and the only woman among them.)

The feats of Team USA’s women, however, don’t stop at record wins. In the ice rink, Heather Bergsma, Mia Manganello, Carlijn Schoutens and Brittany Bowe ended the eight-year-long American drought in speedskating with their bronze win in the women’s team pursuit. In a nail-biting match, the women of Team USA beat out Canada in hockey—the first time the U.S. has taken home gold in women’s hockey since 1998. And in the figure skating team event in which the Americans took the bronze, Mirai Nagasu astounded the crowd and the judges by landing the challenging triple axel in her skate, and becoming only the third ever American woman to complete such a feat.

All these wins are incredible on their own, but more so especially in light of the fact that women make up only 45 percent of Team USA. And of course, all female Olympians, no matter their team, face hurdles just for simply being women—perhaps the most prominent being that the games feature six fewer events for women than for men.

Norway, the current champion of the medals race, leads with 37 medals in total—but only 11 of those were won solely by female athletes. In second with 27 medals, Canada has only 12 medals won by female athletes alone, and Germany, in third with 26 medals, has just eight female-won medals.

Despite representing a little under half the team, Team USA’s female athletes currently hold more than half of Team USA’s medals. Even though there are literally fewer opportunities for them to compete, they have again and again demonstrated their skill and their might.

With more medals yet to come at the Olympics, it’s unknown where the U.S. and the women of Team USA will stand at the conclusion of the games. But no matter the country’s final ranking, one thing is for certain—the U.S. will certainly put up a tough fight, and women will lead the charge.

Maura Turcotte is an editorial intern at Ms.

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