7 Women Breaking Barriers at the Winter Olympics

Nearly a century ago, 11 female figure skaters competed at the first Winter Olympics. The number of women at the event has gradually increased, but it still hasn’t reached parity.

The 2018 Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang, South Korea, will be 43 percent women.

Here are a few incredible female athletes to watch.

1. Simidele Adeagbo, Nigeria

Adeagbo is a trailblazer on many fronts: She’s part of the first Nigerian team to compete during the Winter Olympics. She’s also the first black woman and African of any gender to compete in the skeleton.

“I just find it to be an honor to be a pioneer, in terms of expanding the sport in the global community around the sport. Anytime I walk into a room or on a track, I know it’s probably the first time a lot of people are seeing people like myself in that space,” she tells Essence. “I wear it as a badge of honor and pride. I think that’s how you change perception when you show up in a space professionally and do what you need to do.”¯

2. Chloe Kim, United States

Kim was the first woman to pull off two consecutive 1080s in competition when she was only 15. Three years later, she’s tackling the halfpipe.

If she wins gold, Kim will be the youngest female snowboarder to do so.

3. Women’s Hockey Team, United States

The gender pay gap isn’t just in the office. Last year, the U.S. women’s hockey team demanded pay equity by threatening to boycott the world championships in the spring. They ended up with a raise and benefits that the men’s team already received.

The team also won a title at the tournament for the fourth year in a row. They’re hoping to leverage that momentum into success in the Olympics.

“After a win like that on both fronts, you sort of feel untouchable,” said two-time Olympic silver medalist Hilary Knight to the Associated Press. “You’ve changed the world. You’re hoping that you’ve changed the other industries for the better. But also, too, realizing you have to have humility and the opponent’s right around the corner, building, working, doing the same things you’re doing, and every time you show up at the rink it’s a 50-50 battle and you’ve got to be at the top of that battle.”

4. Sabrina Simader, Kenya

Kenya is sending one delegate to South Korea this year, and that’s Simader. She’ll be the first Alpine skier from the country ever to compete.

Simader rallied to go. She crowdfunded her travel and training. Unlike many athletes who have a slew of professionals to oversee them, Simander just has a coach and her mother.

“Because I’m a Kenyan, that makes me exotic and some people think I can’t ski well,”¯ she told Reuters. “I want to give a good performance that helps me to become a professional.”

5. Elana Meyers Taylor, United States

A longtime advocate for women in sports, Meyers Taylor has medaled twice before in bobsledding. She trains by pushing a 3,500-pound car with her father in the front seat.

She became the first woman to lead a four-person co-ed team four years ago.

Meyers Taylor recently promised to donate her brain for concussion research for women, which is under-studied even though women are more likely to experience those brain injuries. She’s also hinted that she might speak out on some social issues at the Games too.

“I think the hardest thing is that all of us would love to just stick to sports – but if you want us to be role models to kids then you need to stand for more than just sports,” Meyers Taylor told The New York Times.

6. Yuna Kim, South Korea

Beloved figure skater Yuna Kim lit the Olympic torch in the opening ceremonies this year.

In 2010, “Queen Yuna” became the first South Korean to win gold in the Winter Olympics. She scored the most points of any female skater.

Kim has used her successes to help others as a UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador and funder of relief efforts. As Time.com notes, she donated the $27,000 she won for her World Figure Skating Championships silver medal to Japanese earthquake survivors.

7. Erin Jackson, United States

Jackson had only been speed skating four months before she won her place on the Olympic team. That makes her the first African American woman to be there.

Jackson has been a world champion inline skater 10 times over her career.

Photo Credit: { QUEEN YUNA }

95 comments

Marie W
Marie W3 days ago

Thank you for posting

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Shirley P
Shirley P1 months ago

GO, GO, GO!!!!

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Chad A
Chad Anderson3 months ago

Thank you!

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Mike R
Mike R5 months ago

Thanks

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Mike R
Mike R5 months ago

Thanks

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DAVID f
Dave f5 months ago

TY

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Veronica Danie
Veronica Danie5 months ago

Thank you so very much.

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Veronica Danie
Veronica Danie5 months ago

Thank you so very much.

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Veronica Danie
Veronica Danie5 months ago

Thank you so very much.

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Rosslyn O
Rosslyn O5 months ago

Thank you very much for this article and go girls go!

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