Debuts, comebacks and everything else you can't miss for the 2018 PyeongChang Games.
Believe it or not, somewhere between the love-hate back-and-forth between North and South Korea, Russia's Olympic ban, and the occasional international political curve-ball, the 2018 Winter Olympic Games in PyeongChang, South Korea are just days away.
In addition to being the first Winter Olympics hosted on the Korean Peninsula, the 2018 Games are poised to be some of the most unique yet, featuring four new disciplines, a full returning cast of Olympic legends and young guns, and even a series of on-site virtual reality studios to catch the Games in 360-degrees for the first time.
But before the best winter athletes in the world descend on PyeongChang on Feb. 9, here are five things that we are absolutely psyched to check out in this year’s Winter Games. Buckle up.
1. Welcome, Big Air Snowboarding
It's been a long time coming, but after slopestyle and halfpipe skiing and snowboarding were added to the 2014 Sochi Games, Big Air Snowboarding – the highest flying sport on snow – has finally made the Olympic cut for 2018.
Featuring the world's tallest big air ramp, the sport's Olympic debut has put together a stacked roster, including Canadians Max Parrot and Mark McMorris, who hope to add Olympic gold to their impressive trophy cases.
The women start things off with the Big Air finals on Feb. 22, with the men following up on Feb. 23.
2. USA vs. Sweden … No, Not Hockey
Sure, it might be a classic on-ice rivalry, but with NHL players sitting out this year's Olympiad, this rivalry will take place in the skies over Bokwang Phoenix Park. In this year's men's slopestyle skiing event, both USA and Sweden have an unimaginable array of talent all but destined to own the podium this year.
The American side was so competitive that inaugural Olympic gold medalist Joss Christensen couldn't even break the top four, as USA sends Nick Goepper, Gus Kenworthy, McRae Williams and Alex Hall to the show, while Sweden has tapped Jesper Tjäder, Oscar Wester, Oliwer Magnusson and double 2018 X Games gold medalist, Henrik Harlaut.
There's only room for three on the podium, but there should be plenty of space for fireworks in this must-see event in 2018.
The men's slopestyle skiing final is on Saturday, Feb. 17.
3. Snowboard Phenom Chloe Kim Makes Olympic Debut
Hard to believe it, but Chloe Kim was actually too young to compete at the 2014 Sochi Games (yes, that is a thing). Now, the 17-year-old halfpipe snowboarder and four-time X Games gold medalist, is poised to add Olympic gold to her hardware collection.
Adding a little drama to the pot, the American makes her Olympic debut in her parent's home country of South Korea.
On the slopestyle skiing side, her 16-year-old Estonian counterpart Kelly Sildaru, will unfortunately miss the Games after injuring her ACL this past fall.
Women's halfpipe snowboarding launches Monday, Feb. 12.
4. Lindsey Vonn's Olympic Farewell
Lindsey Vonn, the most successful American skier of all time will make her Olympic curtain call in PyeongChang. The 33-year-old downhill gold medalist and two-time world champ was forced to miss the 2014 Games due to injury, but hopes to build off recent momentum to steal a podium in South Korea.
Competing in the Super-G and downhill, Vonn will face off against some of the world's best, including her 22-year-old teammate and current alpine star Mikaela Shiffrin, who has all but locked up the 2018 overall World Cup title and has her eyes on more in her second Olympic Games.
5. Shaun White Is Back!!
If there were any doubters in the snowboarding camp, snowboard legend Shaun White quietly reminded us all that he’s the most winning athlete in the sport this month, scoring a perfect 100 at the U.S. Grand Prix and securing his fourth Winter Olympic berth.
That berth was up in the air after he smacked his face on the pipe in New Zealand this summer, but White has responded in a big way, putting down vintage runs and reminding us that while this might be his last Olympics, he’s not just here for a farewell lap.
White and the rest of the men’s halfpipe field take off on Tuesday, Feb. 13.