5 underdogs of the Winter Olympics

by Anika Rajamani, Reporter

The 2018 Winter Olympics took place from Feb. 8-25 in Pyeongchang, South Korea and included 91 participating nations. The following Olympic athletes were able to overcame physical or financial issues to find success in Pyeongchang.  

1. Alina Zagitova

Courtesy of Wikimedia Commons
Alina Zagitova performs her free program at the 2018 European championships in figure skating in Moscow. She won the gold medal in the Ladies Single Skating Event in the 2018 Olympics.

Alina Zagitova, a 15 year old who represented the Olympic Athletes of Russia, is a 2018 Olympic champion, 2018 European champion, 2017–18 Grand Prix Final champion, and the 2018 Russian national champion. She was the gold winner in the Ladies Single Skating event and was a part of the silver winning team in the figure skating Team Event. With a score of 82.92, Zagitova broke the world record for the highest technical short program score earned. In the free skating event at the 2018 Olympics, she was the only competitor to perform all her 11 of her jumps in the second half of the program.


2. Seun Adigun, Ngozi Onwumere and Akuoma Omeoga

The Nigerian bobsled team, including Seun Adigun, Ngozi Onwumere and Akuoma Omeoga, became the first African athletes to compete in bobsleigh. However, the duo finished last in both their heats in the Two-Woman Bobsleigh event in Pyeongchang. The Nigerian team was started about two years ago by US-born Adigun, who first represented Nigeria in the 100m hurdles at the 2012 London Games. The team started a crowdfunding campaign and raised $75,000. With this money, Adigun built a wooden sled which the team could use to learn and train. Represented by three female athletes (two in bobsleigh and one in skeleton), Nigeria made its debut to the Winter Olympics.


3. Shaun White

Shaun White, an American snowboarder and skateboarder, is a 3-time Olympic gold medalist. He holds the record for the most number of first place medals in the X-Games and for the most number of Olympic gold medals by a snowboarder. White has won 10 ESPY Awards. Last October, while he was training for the Winter Olympics in New Zealand, White had a severe injury to his forehead and tongue as he tried to land a double cork 1440. Despite this, White won the gold medal in the Men’s Halfpipe event and also set the record for the highest score in the event. He received a 97.75 in his last run at the 2018 Olympics.

Courtesy of Wikimedia Commons
Chloe Kim of the United States finishes her warm-up round before the Women’s Halfpipe Final of the Pyeongchang 2018 Winter Olympic Games. Kim won a gold medal in this event at the 2018 Olympics.

4. Chloe Kim

At the age of 17, American snowboarder Chloe Kim became the youngest woman to ever win an Olympic medal in any snowboarding event when she won gold in halfpipe in Pyeongchang. She is also a four-time X-Games gold medalist and became the first athlete in competition history to be three-time gold medalist before the age of 16. In 2016, Kim became the first American woman to win a gold medal in the snowboarding event at the Winter Youth Olympic Games. Kim was the first chosen snowboarder to be the flag bearer in either the Winter Olympic Games or the Youth Games. She was also nominated for the 2016 Espys for the Breakthrough Athlete Award.

5. Kikkan Randall and Jessie Diggins

Athletes Kikkan Randall and Jessie Diggins won the first gold-medal in cross-country skiing for the United States. The last time the US medaled in cross-country skiing was in 1976 when Bill Koch won the silver medal. They completed the race in 15 minutes and 56.47 seconds, only 0.19 seconds ahead of Sweden. Randall, 35 years old, is the only mother who competed as a part of Team USA in the Winter Olympics. She is a five-time Olympic athlete who is the first American athlete to have a top ten finish in a World Cup competition and to win a World Cup race discipline title. Diggins is a two-time Olympic athlete and won her first gold medal in this team event.