Kikkan Randall

Photo: Imago/Zuma Press

1. Kikkan Randall
The Alaska native, 31, is set to ski in her fourth Olympics in the cross-country sprint.

On Her Precompetition Ritual
The week before a race is so hectic that my gear and clothes end up strewn everywhere, so to calm my nerves I tidy up.

On Getting Pumped
I'm a Top 40 girl. We blast music on the way to any race. This year Katy Perry's "Roar" may be our anthem.

On Her Game
Many sports leave your body broken-down. But you can cross-country ski from the moment you learn to walk to the day you need a walker.

On Her Nickname
In high school, I'd rally my team to do one more lap, one more set of push-ups. People would say, "Jeez, Kikkan, you're an animal!" And Kikkanimal was born.
Maddie Bowman

Photo: Harry How/Getty Images

2. Maddie Bowman
The 20-year-old is a contender in freeskiing halfpipe, new to the Olympics this year.

On Staying Motivated
Skiing is my way to postpone growing up. I've always feared being an adult will mean that things stop being as much fun. But I'm a very active person—some would even say I have ADHD—who needs adventure!

On Fueling Up
I'm known to get "hangry"—that's hungry meets angry—so I always carry a Snickers.

On Her Favorite Words of Wisdom
I was just a kid when I started learning how to ski the halfpipe and do cool tricks. My friend CJ told me, "Just don't think about it." When you're about to do something scary, you have to get completely out of your own head.
Elana Meyers

Photo: Ricardo Mazalan/AP

3. Elana Meyers
An Olympic bronze medalist (from the 2010 games), the bobsledder, 29, is eyeing gold.

On Her Start
As a 9-year-old, I decided I was going to be an Olympian. I pursued softball and even tried out with the Olympic team, and I bombed. Bobsledding matched my athletic strengths—speed, power—so I gave it a try. I went to train in Lake Placid, New York, and never left.

On the Thrill
Soaring downhill, gliding on ice with the wind rushing past me—it really is like flying. During those moments, I feel like a superhero.

On Life Outside the Games
My free time is now consumed with planning my wedding. My fiancé, also a bobsledder, proposed at last year's World Championships in Switzerland—while I was on the podium!
Julie Chu

Photo: Erich Schlegel/Zuma Press

4. Julie Chu
The ice-hockey pro, 31, is skating toward her fourth Olympics.

On Her Start
Hockey found me. My brother asked our parents if he could play, and I signed up for figure skating. Two months later, I asked to try hockey too. The players seemed like they were having so much fun. When I first put on the gear, I felt transformed.

On Being the Veteran
At 31, I'm the oldest player; the youngest is 16. But age melts away on a team. Although we still have those moments when I go, "What do you mean, you've never seen Pretty Woman?!"

On Her Fourth Time Around
I was 19 and starry-eyed on my way to my first Olympics. Now I'm trying to make the absolute most of every moment, whether I'm cooking dinner with the team or sweating through a workout.

Next: Female athletes talk about beauty in competition


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