Every four years, sports lovers across the world dust off their television sets, because the Winter Olympics have arrived. From 2010, when the event took place in Vancouver, to 2014, when it took place in Sochi, fans have always been excited to see their favorite athletes hit the ice. And as winter sports amass more and more fans around the world, women have gained a greater portion of the attention, accolades and support that are granted to the cooler side of the athletic spectrum.
Over the years, the women athletes of the Winter Olympics have amassed a great deal of success. In the 21st century alone, we have been fortunate enough to watch the best of the best of them compete at the highest level, in multiple variations of winter sports – whether it be extreme freestyle halfpipe, intense alpine ski racing, or graceful ice dancing.
Thanks to the 2010 and 2014 Winter Olympics, many of us have come to know and love a wide variety of winter sports women athletes. But what have they all been up to since then? And how many more Winter Olympics will they compete in? Well, as it turns out…
The more one watches top athletic competitions such as the Olympics, or any competitive sports for that matter, the more one understands that our professional athletes, both women and men, can’t compete at such a high level forever. Alas, they might be superheroes, but they are also human, and their appearance in one Winter Olympics, it doesn’t guarantee their appearance at a later one.
There are many factors that could lead to an athlete’s retirement. It can be due to an injury or basic wear and tear, as they are faced with the physical depreciation that comes with getting older. An athlete might also stop performing due to personal reasons, external to his field of expertise. Finally, the decision to start a family still brings more women than men athletes to decide to slow down with the careers.
That said, many former professional women athletes move on to adjacent careers as commentators, coaches and spokespeople – all this in addition to a great deal of them who are active and still have plenty more in the tank.
If you happen to not be up to date on the latest news on your favorite women winter sports athletes, have no fear – we’re happy to fill you in. So grab a blanket and your favorite warm drink, because we’re about to show you what some of our all-time favorite athletes have been up.
Silje Norendal – Snowboarding
Silje Norendal is a snowboarder hailing from Norway, who has competed in various winter sports, such as halfpipe, boardercross, and slopestyle. She competed in the 2014 Winter Olympics, getting a score of 78.7 in the Slopestyle Semifinals and finishing in fourth place. But she is known for performing in other competitions as well, such as the 2013 and 2015 Winter X Games, where she managed to win a gold medal in the ladies slopestyle challenge – both times!
Silje has shown the world that she is a force to be reckoned with in the world of winter sports, and she is showing no signs whatsoever of slowing down. In fact, she has declared that she will be ready to perform when the 2018 Winter Olympics come around. She is ready to rock it in the arena, and her love for winter sports has seemingly frosted over to her love life, as her boyfriend is Norwegian professional hockey player Alexander Bonsaksen.
Yuna Kim – Figure skating
Yuna Kim is one of the most successful figure skaters of all time. Here are only a few of her accomplishments: She was a Winter Olympic champion in 2010, and won the silver medal in the 2014 Winter Olympics as well. She is also a six time national champion of the South Korean Figure Skating Championship. She is one the most recognized athletes and public figures in South Korea, and has even been referred to as Queen Yuna by numerous social media outlets across the globe!
Kim has continued to dominate the figure skating scene, and she is one of the highest paid Winter Olympic athletes in the world today, according to Forbes. Beyond her accomplishments and the money she has earned, she was a part of Time magazines list of the World’s Most Influential People of 2010. She is very generous, donating more than $2.5 million to different charity causes in the world. Kim will not be performing in the upcoming 2018 Winter Olympics.
Elena Ilinykh – Ice dancing
Elena is an ice dancer from Russia, who generally performs with a partner. In 2015, she became a national champion while she was partnered up with Ruslan Zhiganshin. But she has a history in the Winter Olympics as well. In the 2014 Winter Olympics, she and then dance partner Nikita Katsalapov won a couple of medals, such as the gold medal in the team event, and the bronze medal in the individual competition. She happens to be the second youngest Olympic medalist in the field of ice dancing.
But if you missed her in 2014, have no fear, because she may be coming out swinging once again the 2018 Winter Olympics, possibly with her ice dance partner Ruslan Zhiganshin. She has remained active all of these years, and she has lost none of her vigor and dexterity on the ice. If she ends up performing in 2018 she will without a doubt give us a stellar performance – and we can’t wait to be blown away!
Ashley Wagner – Figure skating
This extremely successful American figure skater has made quite an impression on folks around the world with the amount of medals she has won in various competitions. Some of these medals include winning a silver medal in the 2016 World Figure Skating Championship, being a champion of the 2012 Four Continents competition, as well as five separate Grand Prix events. Her success earned her a spot on the 2014 U.S Olympic team, where she helped them win bronze.
Much time has passed since Ashley Wagner was showing off her trademark Charlotte spirals and camel spins to awestruck audiences, and she has had to overcome a lot of hardships. For instance, in 2016, she was performing in an ice show and experienced what she herself dubbed as a “freak accident.” A terrible fall would tear her quad muscle, and the pain would last her for a few months. While she remains to be a legendary skater, she unfortunately will not be performing in the 2018 Winter Olympics.
Lindsey Vonn – Alpine ski racing
Lindsey Vonn is an American alpine ski racer with an extremely impressive resume. Not only is she a four time World Cup champion, but she has broken numerous Olympic records. In the 2010 Winter Olympics, she participated in the first ever downhill race for women, and won the gold medal – helping her earn the Laureus Sportswoman of the Year award. She is also one of the only six women to win races in all five styles of alpine skiing.
If you are a Vonn fan and want to see her compete sometime soon, you are in luck – she is suiting up and preparing to compete in the 2018 Winter Olympics this February. For a competitor like Lindsey Vonn who has accomplished so much throughout her illustrious career, it truly is an exciting time for her. At 33, it is very possible that this will be her final Olympics appearance, and as we look back and celebrate her 13 years of massive success, we feel she’s earned it.
Gretchen Bleiler – Snowboarding
Gretchen Bleiler is a professional halfpipe snowboarder from Ohio that reached her prominence in the first decade of the new millenium. From a very young age she already knew she was going to be performing in the Winter X Games. She was a U.S. Grand Prix champion in 2003, and a champion of the Triple Crown of Snowboarding as well. In the 2006 Winter Olympics, she won a silver medal, and although considered a favorite to win the gold in the 2010 Winter Olympics, she fell slightly short.
Since then, Gretchen has settled down into a bit of a quieter life (but not too quiet!). She enjoys giving back to the youth, working at High Cascade Snowboard Camp, where she teaches young kids how to rides those slopes like a real pro. She also has many hobbies, including mountain biking and interior design. She currently lives in Aspen, Colorado, where she is married to fellow snowboarder Chris Hotell – but she still loves snowboarding.
Tina Maze – Ski racing
Maze is considered by many to be the most successful ski racer to come from Slovenia. In her career, she has gathered many accolades, including two gold medals at the 2014 Winter Olympics. She was given the prestigious title of Slovenian Sportswoman of the Year in six separate years. When she started out, she specialized in giant slalom racing, but eventually she widened her repertoire to all five types of alpine skiing – and won medals in all of those categories.
This legendary ski racer has impressed many with the records she has broken, but perhaps surprised even more people when she announced her retirement plans. Indeed, she announced to the world in May 2015 that she would be taking a break from skiing, to focus on studies – but it would only be for a year. However, in 2017, at the same venue where she made her ski racing debut in 1999, she announced her official complete retirement.
Lolo Jones – Bobsled racing
America, meet your bobsled queen. Lola Jones is a well known American bobsledder and hurdler who specializes in 60 and 100 meter hurdles. Before she even started performing in the Olympics, she won three separate NCAA titles, grabbing 11 All-American honors in the process. Eventually, she competed with the U.S. national bobsled team as a brakewoman, and represented them in the 2014 Winter Olympics. She also competed in the Summer Olympics, as one of the few athletes to do so.
Since her appearance in the 2014 Winter Olympics, Jones has been busy appearing on screen in other arenas of competition. For instance, in 2017 she competed on The Challenge: Champs vs. Pros – a special mini series on MTV, where she was eliminated in the sixth episode. She nevertheless managed to raise $1000 for a charity called Hurdles of Hope, which was her motivation for joining the show. In addition, she happens to be the most followed American track and field star on Twitter.
Mellisa Hollingsworth – Skeleton racing
Melissa Hollingsworth has been competing in the winter sports scene since 1995. A Canadian athlete who specializes in skeleton, she competed in the 2006 Winter Olympics skeleton event and won a bronze medal. She also competed in the 2000 FIBT World Championships in Austria, where she won a silver medal. A participator in the 2010 Winter Olympics as well, she made a very strong run against competitors such as the british Amy Williams, but ended up finishing in fifth place.
Since her 2010 Winter Olympic stint, she has been keeping up the competition, going after that gold medal in the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi. Unfortunately, she came up short once again – four years after the event in 2010 had left her in tears. Sports can be a very emotional vessel for one to immerse themselves into, because so much passion and dedication is required in order to compete at the highest level. But Mellisa isn’t stopping – she’s gearing up for the 2018 Winter Olympics, and is ready to go.
Gracie Gold – Figure skating
Gracie Gold is a figure skater from America who has competed in many competitions, such as the 2012 World Junior Figure Skating Championship, where she earned a silver medal. She also performed at the 2014 Winter Olympics, helping team USA win a bronze medal, while placing fourth herself in the ladies’ single event. Being that Gold is still very young, she seemed ready to continue competing in top form in time for the 2018 Winter Olympics – but things would soon change.
Life can be hard sometimes, and the life of a professional figure skater is no different. Following a second place victory in the 2016 World Championships, and a placing of fourth at the U.S. Championships, Gold went into a downward spiral. She was forced to receive treatment for anxiety, depression, and an unfortunate eating disorder. However, she has a positive outlook that the treatment will ultimately strengthen her, and she has plans to continue competing once she is up on her feet.
Rosalind Groenewoud – Freestyle skiing
Rosalind is a Canadian professional athlete in the field of freestyle skiing. In the FIS World Championship, she came in first place in the halfpipe division, and she is also a two time Winter X Games champion as well. In addition to her first place victories, she has won three silver medals, and two bronze ones from X Games halfpipe matches as well. Considered at the time to be one of the top women skiers, she also ended up performing in the 2014 Winter Olympics.
Rosalind continues to remain an active skier, and she is expected to represent Canada in the 2018 Winter Olympics. What keeps her going? One thing that has definitely been an inspiration for her was surpassing halfpipe world leader Sarah Burke, with whom she was very close and looked up to. When Burke died, Rosalind took the inspiration of Burke’s legacy and broke an X Games record with a score of 93.6 – getting the biggest air of the competition while winning the gold in the process.
Allison Baver – Speed skating
Allison Baver is an American professional winter sports athlete, specializing in short track speed skating. She has competed twice in the Winter Olympics, in 2006 and 2010. In 2006, she acquired a bronze medal. When she competed in the 2010 Winter Olympics, she participated in three separate events, winning the bronze medal in one of them. Allison is a permanent member of the US Olympics winter sports team, and she trains with them in Salt Lake City.
When Allison isn’t racing, she is dedicated to other matters. In 2010, she founded an organization called the Off The Ice Foundation, which aimed to provide sports and education programs for schools around the globe. Even further down the road, she was elected in 2016 to serve as the vice president for the US Olympians and Paralympians Association – for a four year term. Allison may taken her skates off for good, but she is always giving back, and her heart still lives in the sports arena.
Mirjam Jaeger – Freestyle skiing
Born in Zurich, Switzerland, Mirjam Jaeger grew up with a passion for slopes. She is a freestyle skier, and she debuted in the 2004 World Cup where she competed in the halfpipe event, finishing in sixth place. Jaeger would go on to participate in various other competitions, winning a large amount of silver medals, mainly. She competed professionally in the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia, where she finished eighth place in the final round.
Some athletes who compete at the highest level like to stretch their careers out as long as possible – and some athletes choose to finish their career simply because they feel the time is right. Such was the case for Mirjam Jaeger, who announced her retirement from competitive winter sports in March of 2015. But she has other plans on her horizon: Ever since her retirement as a professional athlete, she has been concentrating on work as a model and a sports broadcaster.
Hannah Teter – Snowboarding
Hannah Teter is a professional snowboarder from the USA. This Vermont native is also a gold medal winner, placing first in the halfpipe competition at the 2006 Winter Olympics. If that wasn’t enough, she also won a silver medal at the 2010 Winter Olympic games. Teter also has competed in the Snowboarding World Cup and has been victorious six times. She was also one of the four winter olympic athletes chosen to be a model in a special Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Edition in 2010.
Athletes or celebrities of a certain stature get to a point where they understand the influence they have on people that look up to them, and some choose to wield this power in very positive ways – such as giving charity. Hannah is one of these people, having founded a charity organization calls Hannah’s Gold. She also helps out at the Special Olympics, acting as a global ambassador. Now that she’s retired from professional winter sports competition, she has more time to focus on projects such as these.
Tessa Virtue – Ice dancing
Miss Virtue is a professional ice dancer from Canada, and is one of the more successful women winter sports athletes today. When she competed in the 2010 Winter Olympics alongside dance partner Scott Moir, they took home the gold medal. When she came back in the 2014 Winter Olympics, she and Scott won again, this time the silver medal. In the same Olympics, she and the rest of her Canada squad won the gold medal in the team event.
Virtue and Moir have had so much success as an ice dancing couple, and have been a team for over 20 years. When observing their natural chemistry on stage, people can’t but ask, are they dating? According to Moir, “It’s hard to explain.” Well, that will have to do for now. But dating or not, fans will be happy to know that Virtue and Moir are still actively competing, and hope to perform for Canada in the 2018 Winter Olympics.
Mikaela Shiffrin – alpine ski racer
Mikaela Shiffrin was born in 1995 and is a famous ski racer for Team America. Mikaela has competed in World Cup and became the World Cup champion in slalom. Mikaela Shiffrin actually won the World Cup a total of four times and at only 18 became the youngest alpine ski racer to win the World Cup in history. She is now 22 and still unbeaten. Mikaela is an Olympic gold medalist and a true trailblazer.
After taking home the gold in the 2014 Winter Olympics for alpine ski racing she still holds the World Cup’s best standings. Shiffrin has participated in several television shows for her accomplishments at such a young age including the NBC show How to Raise an Olympian. She was also featured on the NPR Ratio show Wait Wait… Don’t Tell Me! and won the radio’s game called Not My Job. This all-around sports star also loves to play tennis and soccer although she admits that “skiing is definitely number one.”