Meet Your 2018 Winter Olympics Figure Skating Favorites

Nathan Chen
Asahi Shimbun via Getty Images
Nathan Chen of the United States competes in the Men's Singles Free Skating during day two of the ISU World Team Trophy at Yoyogi Nationala Gymnasium on April 21, 2017 in Tokyo, Japan.

America’s best hopes for gold at the Gangneung Ice Arena at the 2018 Winter Olympics in PyeongChang, South Korea rest on the shoulders of men’s singles skater Nathan Chen. The Salt Lake City native has spun himself into contention thanks to his ability to effortlessly execute multiple quadruple jumps.

After finishing sixth at the 2017 world championships, he was undefeated on the Grand Prix circuit last fall, including a victory over reigning world and Olympic champion Yuzuru Hanyu of Japan. A subsequent ankle injury left a question mark on Hanyu’s condition as the Games approached, but even at top form he will be challenged by the American teen.

“Nathan Chen has revolutionized the sport in just about two seasons,” says former Olympian Johnny Weir, now an analyst for NBC’s lead figure skating team. “He is making every other man in the world do three, four, five quads in the long program, and it’s only because he pushed the bar. Nathan is the quad icon.”

Maia Shibutani and Alex Shibutani compete in the Championship Dance Short Program during Day 3 of the 2018 Prudential U.S. Figure Skating Championships at SAP Center at SAP Center at SAP Center on January 5, 2018 in San Jose, California. (Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)

U.S. medal hopes are also high in ice dancing. The brother-sister duo of Alex and Maia Shibutani (aka the “ShibSibs”) are contenders following a bronze medal at the world championships a year ago. And don’t count out their teammates Madison Hubbell and Zachary Donohue, who upset the Shibutanis to win the national title in January.

On the ladies’ side, Bradie Tennell came from relative anonymity this year to win the U.S. championship and is a dark horse to make the podium. After coming back from a string of injuries, this season Tennell introduced a medley of music from the 2015 film Cinderella for her free skate. “I just love the characters, I love the story. I look like her,” Tennell says. “With all of the struggles I’ve had in the past, I felt like it was a good time to skate to this music.” Perhaps the selection will spur her coronation into ice skating royalty.

Bradie Tennell competes in the Ladies Free Skate during the 2018 Prudential U.S. Figure Skating Championships at the SAP Center on January 5, 2018 in San Jose, California. (Photo by Matthew Stockman/Getty Images)

Winter Olympics Opening Ceremony, Friday, Feb. 9, 8/7c, NBC