3 Olympic Hopefuls You Should Watch For in the 2018 Games
Believe it or not, the Winter Olympics are only a few months away. It may not feel like it in this post-Halloween, pre-Thanksgiving season, but the 2018 Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games are heading to PyeongChang, South Korea, in nearly 100 days, and athletes around the world are preparing vigorously for it.
While Olympic rosters won't be finalized for most sports until closer to the games, some athletes are already being watched and spotlighted because of their athletic prowess and competitive track record, and we spoke to three of them. Nathan Chen (pictured above) is the 2017 U.S. Men's Figure Skating Champion, Kelly Clark is a four-time U.S. Olympic snowboarder and three-time U.S. Olympic medalist, and Mike Schultz is the U.S. National Paralympic Snowboard Champion, so needless to say, they're kind of a big deal.
These athletes don't compete in the same sport, but they do have one major thing in common: their faces are on cereal boxes. Each athlete has partnered with Kellogg's, and they'll be documenting their paths toward the Olympics with the brand's #GetsMeStarted campaign. Below, they tells us all about their training, life as a competitive athlete, and (what else?) the Olympics.
Nathan Chen, Figure Skating
To say Chen is "one to watch" is practically an understatement at this point. The massively talented 18-year-old figure skater is currently the only skater who competes with five different types of quadruple jumps. As he works toward his very first Olympics, he reflected on his Olympic-related beginnings.
"I was born in Salt Lake city, and when I was 3 years old, they had the Olympic Games there, and because of that, they opened up a whole bunch of different rinks and practice facilities in my area," he told InStyle. "I remember watching my older brother play hockey. I saw the goalie and I thought the gear was so cool, and I was like, 'Alright, that's what I want to do.'"
When his mom decided that a figure skate blade might be easier to skate on than a hockey blade, she got him figure skates instead. The rest, as they say, is history.
Chen is particularly skilled at different kinds of quadruple jumps, which not many skaters can say, but it's still important to him to try and balance his technical skills with program artistry.
"[That balance] is definitely a hot topic right now in skating. I think to have a solid technical base comes first, and that's something I did prove and need to continue proving so that I can rack in that technical score," he said. "At the same time, skating is a full package sport and that's something I put a lot of emphasis and thought into this year in terms of a story in my programs."
Chen will appear on boxes of Corn Flakes, which will come out nationwide in December.
Kelly Clark, Snowboarding
If you're looking for a decorated U.S. Olympic snowboarder, Kelly Clark's name immediately comes to mind. The four-time U.S. Olympian and three-time U.S. Olympic medalist was the very first athlete to win a gold medal at the Salt Lake City Olympics, and she's only picked up steam from there.
As she prepares for the fifth Olympics she's trying to make, her eye is on the prize, even though there's a chance she won't even know if she has qualified until two and a half weeks before the competition. But tthere are still a slew of intense competitions in the meantime that contribute to who makes the cut.
"A lot of people can be kind of shocked to find out that you don't know if you're going until the Olympics are a few weeks away, but I've found that having those high level intense competitions to even make the U.S. halfpipe team really gets you ready for the Games," she said. "The practice of being in the competition setting and being in those high-pressure situations over and over again is the best preparation."
Having experience as a successful Olympian already, Clark has learned some incredible lessons.
"The biggest thing I've learned being an Olympian is that you shouldn't treat [the Games] as a destination. I think a lot of people look to the Olympics to define their athletic career, but I think any time you're treating something as a destination, like if I could just get that job or win this contest, whatever it may be, the second you start to try to arrive is the second you start being defined by it," she told InStyle. "Defining yourself by external things you can't control is not a fun experience. I've learned to treat [the Olympics] as a wonderful experience and opportunity rather than something I have to do or must have to complete my life or my snowboarding career."
That sounds like pretty good advice to us. Want more advice from Clark? The athlete somehow found time in her hectic schedule to pen a book.
Clark will appear on boxes of Special K Red Berries, which will come out nationwide in December.
Mike Schultz, Paralympic Snowboarding
Unlike some snowboarding champs, Schultz didn't start out on boards but rather on road circuits. He was very into racing snowmobiles and motocross, even becoming a professional snocross rider, but a 2008 competition injury left him with an above-the-knee amputation.
"I didn't really want to slow down, so I researched prosthetic equipment to get back in action, but it wasn't there, so I started to design my own," he said. "I designed my own to get me back into motorsports, but realized there's a big gap in equipment available for sports."
When he started looking into snowboarding-specific equipment, he began to learn the sport for research purposes and realized he was really good at it. After he began competing in as a paralympic snowboarder in 2012, things took off from there.
Schultz certainly has the talent to attract a fan base—but his biggest fan is his almost 4-year-old daughter. "She's my number one teammate. She goes to a lot of the competitions and is always cheering on dad. It's so fun to be able to share all of these experiences with her. There's not many people that get to do that," he told InStyle. "We brought her to Winter X Games when she was 8 weeks old, so she's been going to competitions around the country for a long time. She knows all my teammates, so she cheers for my teammates as they're competing. It's pretty neat."
Schultz will appear on boxes of Frosted Flakes, which will come out nationwide in December.