Dream TeamMeet the inspiring athletes Ralph Lauren is proud to sponsor at the Olympic and Paralympic Games PyeongChang 2018—from a boundary-breaking skier to the brother-sister duo who have taken ice dancing by storm
Freestyle Skier; Telluride, CO
It takes courage and daring to become one of the world’s top freestyle skiers, and Gus Kenworthy has both in spades—on and off the slopes. Those qualities have helped Kenworthy—who took home silver in the inaugural halfpipe and slopestyle competition at the Olympic Winter Games Sochi 2014—notch a series of firsts: first-ever skier to successfully pull off a double cork 1080 in a halfpipe; first ever to do a double flip on a hip jump; first ever to do a double flip off a rail; and finally, first-ever seven-time AFP World Champ.But it’s another first that Kenworthy is best known for: In 2015, he became the first-ever American Olympian to publicly come out on the cover of a magazine, and has become an inspiration for a younger generation to embrace their true selves in pursuit of their dreams. “The reason I did it in such a public way was to try and, hopefully, help kids that are in the same position,” says Kenworthy, who says he’s now driven more than ever to be the best in the world. “I want to do right by the people that are looking up to me. I want to lead by example.”
Snowboarder; South Lake Tahoe, CA
At 9 years old, Jamie Anderson picked up a BMX bike and started racing, usually against all boys—and usually winning. She carried that competitive spirit when she progressed to snowboarding a year later. After becoming one of the most decorated riders in X Games slopestyle history, she went on to strike gold when the event was introduced at the Olympic Winter Games Sochi 2014.
“I felt so honored and privileged to represent my country, and do what I absolutely love,” she says of her performance there. (For the uninitiated, Anderson describes Olympic slopestyle snowboarding as “a playground on the mountain, very similar to a skate park.”)
Having grown up in the mountains of California (and spending a lot of time in mid-air), Anderson stresses that family, including her five brothers and two sisters, helps keep her grounded, but she adds that having passion and purpose can make magic happen. Her advice to young hopefuls: “Trust yourself, do it your own way, and let your dreams become your reality.”UPDATE: Congratulations to Jamie Anderson for winning a gold medal in women’s snowboard slopestyle and a silver medal in snowboard big air.
Alex and Maia Shibutani
Ice Dancers; Old Greenwich, CT
As a young man, Alex Shibutani’s dreams didn’t include Olympic ice. “I dreamed of playing in the NBA,” he says, laughing, “not realizing that height genes weren't quite in my favor.” Accompanying his mom to younger sister Maia’s skating practice, he eventually took up the sport out of boredom and challenging himself to do something new. He didn’t imagine where it would lead; neither did Maia.
“I never thought I’d be in the Olympics with my brother,” she says. Of course, to the rest of the world it may look a bit like destiny. When the Shibutani siblings (or ShibSibs as they’re known to fans of their popular YouTube channel) made their World Championships debut in 2011, they medaled—the first-ever Americans to do so. From there, it’s been a string of successes.
Fresh off a record-shattering victory at the 2017 U.S. Figure Skating Championships, Alex says the secret of their partnership is simple: “We both share the same goal and we both want the best for the team.”
Maia agrees, saying, “The journey has been more special than I could have ever imagined. And it’s so much better that my brother is with me.”UPDATE: Congratulations to Alex and Maia Shibutani for winning a bronze medal in ice dancing and a bronze medal in the figure skating team event.
Bobsledder; Chicago, IL
For Aja Evans, athletic success runs in the family. Her father was a champion collegiate swimmer, her uncle and cousin were professional baseball players, and her brother played professional football. Evans herself was a standout sprinter and shot putter at the University of Illinois, before her track coach encouraged her to try her hand at bobsledding. She was instantly hooked. “Bobsledding is such an adrenaline rush,” she says. “When I get out there, I feel like a superhero.”
She’s performed like one, too—taking home a bronze medal at the Olympic Winter Games Sochi 2014. “One of the sayings is, ‘You’re not a real bobsledder until you’ve crashed,’” she says, “I haven’t crashed and I have an Olympic bronze medal, so I think I get a little pass with that one.”Following a torn ACL while training in 2015, Evans bounced back to win first overall in last year’s World Cup, along with her partner Jamie Greubel Poser, and is more determined than ever heading into PyeongChang. “I’m ready to go and make my country proud,” she says. Not to mention, she adds, to “upgrade my bronze to gold.”
Paralympic Sled Hockey Player; Portland, OR
Growing up, Rico Roman was always active. “I played soccer, football, basketball, karate, everything,” he says. After high school he enrolled in the Army, becoming a staff sergeant and serving three tours in Iraq and one in Kosovo. Then in 2007, while working a security checkpoint in Sadar al Yusuf, his vehicle struck a roadside bomb on the way back to his base.
Roman’s left leg was severely injured in the explosion, and after nearly a year of excruciating rehab, he made the painful decision to have it amputated above the knee. “It was tough,” he says, “to take a piece of my body and basically take it off because it’s not working for me. But I’m happy with the outcome of it and I’ve been getting around pretty much since.” He soon discovered sled hockey and by 2014 Roman had helped the U.S. National Team win gold at the Paralympic Winter Games Sochi 2014.
“It brings a lot of pride to me, being able to wear the colors of our country and to represent our country,” Roman says of fulfilling his Paralympic dream. “I feel like it’s an opportunity to show the world that yes, I’ve been knocked down, but I can get up and accomplish great things again.”UPDATE: Congratulations to Rico Roman for winning a gold medal in sled hockey.