11 Awesome Women To Watch At The 2014 Winter Olympics


Double axels, insane ski jumps and half-pipe moves -- we can hardly wait for the Winter Olympics to start.

During the 2012 Summer Olympics, we fell in love with incredible female athletes like gymnast Gabby Douglas, track star Allyson Felix and swimmer Missy Franklin. Needless to say, we were pretty sad when the Games ended. (It didn't help that we saw a lot less of Ryan Lochte, or as we like to refer to him in our office, "the gift that keeps on giving.")

Luckily, the Winter Games are bringing us a whole new round of inspiring women to be in awe of.

Here are 11 women to look out for at Sochi:

Gracie Gold, Figure Skating
18-year-old Gold won her first title at the U.S. Figure Skating Championships on Jan. 12, and is expected to live up to her last name in Sochi. “The Olympics aren’t just another competition, it’s the ultimate dream," she told reporter Brandon Penny. "It’s a life experience that I’ll never forget and I’m so excited to be going.” Twitter: @GraceEGold
Katie Uhlaender, Skeleton
Two-time Olympian Uhlaender has competed in national competitions since 2003, twice winning the women's Skeleton World Cup. When she isn't training for skeleton, Uhlaender raises cattle on her family's farm, and works towards competing in the Summer Olympics -- as a weightlifter. Talk about a woman of many talents. Twitter: @KatieU11
Sugar Todd, Speed Skating
In Jan. 2014, Todd raised $5,500 to fund her parents' trip to Sochi to watch her compete -- and closed donations once her goal was reached despite the thousands of people who wrote in asking to give more. She wrote on her GoFundMe page: "After paying for 15 years worth of coaching, skating equipment, travel to races, and entry fees for competitions; I promise you that every little bit helps them." Could she be any more awesome? Twitter: @sugarmotion
Sarah Hendrickson, Ski Jumping
Hendrickson's Olympic spot isn't entirely certain since she sustained a knee injury four months ago. But the young skiier is determined to compete, as this is the first time women's ski jump has been approved as an Olympic event. "This is special and this is what I set my heart on," Hendrickson told ESPN on Jan. 9. Twitter: @schendrickson
Kate Hansen, Luge
Hansen made the Olympic team despite having raced with a broken foot since October 2013. "I've learned a lot. I've learned a lot about how I work mentally," Hansen told USA Luge in Oct. 2013. "Obviously, no one wants to break their foot, but I'm capable of things that I never thought I would be capable of. I think that's the biggest deal in itself." Twitter: @k8ertotz
Hannah Kearney, Freestyle Skiing
Kearney manages to balance skiing with her undergraduate studies at Dartmouth, which seems pretty incredible to us. In 2012, she told New Hampshire magazine: "A lot of satisfaction in life is cultivated by working towards a goal because you feel organically motivated and truly happy about your choices." You go, girl. Twiiter: @HK_Ski
Heather Richardson, Long Track Speed Skating
Richardson is a 15-time World Cup 1000m medalist and 11-time World Cup 500m medalist who dabbles in volleyball and softball off the ice. She also plans to go to dental school when her speed skating career is over. We love her ambition. Twitter: @Hlynnrichardson
Gretchen Bleiler, Snowboarding
The halfpipe snowboarder was awarded the Best Female Action Sports Athlete ESPY Award in 2008. She told Women's Health magazine her tips for staying motivated: Twitter: @GretchenBleiler
Meryl Davis, Ice Dancing
Davis and her partner Charlie White won their record-breaking sixth straight U.S. Championship in ice dancing in Jan. 2014, guaranteeing their place at Sochi. “We’re working to earn gold,” Davis told NBC in Jan. 2014. “We’re working really hard for it.” Twitter: @Meryl_Davis
Julia Mancuso, Skiing
The two-time Olympian has a ski run named after her at Squaw Valley -- "Julia's Gold." But the skiier hasn't let her success and the attention it's brought go to her head. In 2010, she told SparkPeople about her focus on giving back: Twitter: @JuliaMancuso
Aja Evans, Bobsled
Evans competed in track and field in college, and only began bobsledding after she graduated in 2010. She scored an incredible 794 out of a possible 800 points on the bobsled "combine test", so we can't wait to see what she does at Sochi. Twitter: @AjaLEvans

Who are you looking out for at the Winter Olympics? Comment below, or tweet @HuffPostWomen.

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