Teenagers Make this the “Chillest” Olympics yet

Teenagers+Make+this+the+%22Chillest%22+Olympics+yet

This Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang, South Korea was the year of the young ones. Unabashedly themselves, these hardworking teenagers proved they had what it took to bring home the gold.

Bringing home Team USA’s first gold medal, 17-year-old slopestyle snowboarder Red Gerard became the Olympics’ youngest snowboarding champion. He is also the first ever medalist at the Olympic Winter Games born after Jan. 1, 2000, and the youngest American to win an Olympic winter gold medal since 1928.

While his accomplishments bring this 17-year-old to an unprecedented level of victory, it is the young athlete’s personality that is making headlines. A er a creative final run earned him the winning 87.16 score, Gerard could be seen on camera shouting a profanity in response.

Olympic champions also put off responsibilities—much like everyday teenagers—to binge watch Netflix. Gerard nearly overslept his event, falling asleep the night before while watching “Brooklyn Nine-Nine.” He got roused out of bed by his roommate, fellow snowboarder Kyle Mack, 20 minutes after he was supposed to be getting ready. Rushing out the door with an egg and ham breakfast sandwich with Mack’s borrowed ski jacket (Gerard could not find his own ski jacket), he headed to his event.

For women’s snowboarding, 17-year-old Chloe Kim locked in the gold medal even before her final run, and finished with an almost perfect score (98.25). is four-time X-Games gold medalist was used to making waves in the snowboarding world, being the first female snowboarder in history to land back-to-back 1080 degree spins in competition when she was just 15. On the Olympic halfpipe, Kim became the first female to land consecutive 1080s in the Olympics.

Kim’s relatability comes from her quirky Twitter presence. She tweeted she was “hangry” in between runs, wishing she had finished her breakfast sandwich earlier that day, followed by a tweet saying “I hate crying but I’ll give myself a pass for this one” when she won the gold.

Kim isn’t the only young California teenage snowboarder soaking up Olympic glory. She is joined in Pyeongchang by childhood friends and fellow competitors Hailey Langland (who posts exciting Instagram pictures of Gerrard with the caption “My first opening ceremony with ma friendss!”) and Maddie Mastro (showing her support for fellow-Olympian Miguel Porteous—her boyfriend and a New Zealand skier—through heart- warming Instagram posts). All three female snowboarders are 17 and competing on the slopes together for team USA.

On the ice, the most talked about skater of this Olympics just happens to be the phenomenal 17-year- old Nathan Chen. Chen, the only international skater to go undefeated in season on the Grand Prix circuit, was Team USA’s top contender for the gold. He even had his face on a Corn Flakes cereal box before the Olympics began.

However, this year proved out of this young skater’s reach as he performed a disastrous short program—a performance he’s called the worst of his skating career. Chen, nicknamed the Quad King because of his strength in executing this four-rotation jump, was not able to land any of his quad jumps in the short.

With increased flexibility and less weight to carry, there are many mechanical advantages of being a younger athlete. But with this expectation on a child not even eligible to vote, the amount of psychological pressure compared to their older peers can be increased and unmanageable. Like any teenager would do, Chen retreated to his hotel room a er his short program to jump into bed and call his mom for encouragement.

Pulling it together in the free skate, Chen landed six quadruple jumps in total— five cleanly—marking the most in Olympic history. Chen did not tell his coach about this planned sixth quadruple, but besides making history it secured him a fifth-place spot.

Coming just behind Chen, fellow 17-year-old Vincent Zhou finished sixth for Team USA. Zhou, the youngest competitor to land a quadruple lutz in competition and a 2017 USA Figure Skating Championships silver medalist, is not just a talented skater. He also runs a poetry account on Instagram and enjoys “a high-quality meme” like his peers.

Team USA finished up in fourth for medal count at 23—with 9 gold, 8 silver and 6 bronze. They came in behind Norway (39 medals), Germany (31 medals) and Canada (29 medals).

Notable victories include Shaun White’s third career halfpipe gold, marking Team USA’s 100th all-time gold, and Jessie Diggins’ gold in the freestyle team sprint—the first-ever medal for American women in cross- country skiing. The women’s hockey team defeated their rivals, Canada, to earn the first gold medal in this event in 20 years. Another huge landmark was the victory of USA’s men’s curling team—the first time the Americans had ever won this event. Diggins had the honor of carrying the flag for U.S. at the closing ceremony.

Jacqueline may be reached at
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