(Reuters) – The United States will send the largest team ever to attend a Winter Olympics, 242 athletes, to next month’s Pyeongchang Games, the U.S. Olympic Committee announced on Friday.
Alpine skier Lindsey Vonn, figure skating favorite Nathan Chen and speedskater Shani Davis, the winner of four Olympic medals, headline the team of 107 women and 135 men who will be seeking to earn the United States their 100th Olympic gold and 300th medal.
The Americans won 28 medals, including nine golds, at the 2014 Sochi Olympics and with 103 Olympians returning, they are looking for an equally strong showing.
“It’s been pretty brutal to wait for another Olympics,” said Vonn, who will be making her fourth appearance at a Games having missed out on a trip to Sochi in 2014 with a knee injury.
“I am so excited, it is probably my last Olympics,” added the 2010 Vancouver downhill gold medalist who recently claimed a record 79th World Cup race.
For Chen, a prediction he made as a 10-year-old that he would become an Olympian is about to become a reality.
“It is crazy,” said the figure skater, “to think that eight years later here I am, I made that dream happen.”
Ten Olympic champions are on the team, including five looking to defend their titles from the 2014 Sochi Games – Jamie Anderson (snowboarding slopestyle), Maddie Bowman (freestyle skiing halfpipe), Ted Ligety (Alpine skiing giant slalom), Mikaela Shiffrin (Alpine skiing slalom) and David Wise (freestyle skiing halfpipe).
“My confidence is through the roof right now,” said Wise.
With 10 African-Americans, 11 Asian-Americans and the first two openly gay male athletes, the 2018 team is the most diverse U.S. team ever.
The squad also will feature the first African-American women to represent the United States in speedskating (Maame Biney and Erin Jackson) and the first African-American on the U.S. hockey team (Jordan Greenway).
Kelly Clark (snowboarding) and Kikkan Randall (cross-country skiing) will become the first female five-time U.S. Olympians at the Winter Games, while Davis becomes the first U.S. speedskater to compete in five Olympics.
Davis also is the most decorated team member with two golds and two silver medals.
(Reporting by Gene Cherry in Salvo, North Carolina, editing by Pritha Sarkar)