Five U.S. Olympic hopefuls born in the 2000s

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Who will be the youngest member of the 2018 U.S. Olympic team?

Here are five candidates:

Vincent Zhou, Figure Skating, Age 16
The surprise U.S. silver medalist behind Nathan Chen last month. Zhou’s quadruple jump arsenal is second only to Chen among Americans. Zhou has never skated in senior international competition, but the second spot (and possibly third) on the U.S. Olympic team appears up for grabs behind Chen.

Red Gerard, Snowboarding, Age 16
Gerard is halfway to an automatic PyeongChang berth after winning the U.S. Grand Prix at Mammoth Mountain, Calif., the first U.S. Olympic slopestyle qualifier, on Sunday. Pretty much another podium finish in one of the final three qualifiers next season will ink him on the Olympic team as the youngest U.S. Olympic male snowboarder of all time.

Chloe Kim, Snowboarding, Age 16
Kim is the most acclaimed athlete on this list with two X Games halfpipe titles, Youth Olympic gold and a bevy of sponsorships. She had won seven straight halfpipe contests before finishing third at the X Games in January and fourth at the U.S. Grand Prix at Mammoth last weekend.

Hailey Langland, Snowboarding, Age 16
Langland could go for medals in big air and the new Olympic event of slopestyle in PyeongChang. She won the former and finished fourth in the latter at X Games last month and followed that up by finishing second in the first Olympic slopestyle qualifier the following week.

Maddie Mastro, Snowboarding, Age 16
When Kim scored a perfect 100 at the 2016 U.S. Grand Prix at Park City, it was Mastro who finished second with a strong 92 points. The competition for one of four Olympic women’s halfpipe spots will be fierce. Older hopefuls include Olympic champions Kelly Clark and Hannah Teter, current X Games champion Elena Hight and 2013 World champion Arielle Gold.

PYEONGCHANG 2018
Storylines | 18 US Stars | 18 Global Stars | Strange Olympic Hopefuls | Key events
Oldest US Olympian? | Youngest US Olympian? | Venue Photo Gallery | North Korea

Leanne Smith leads U.S. gold medalists at para swim worlds

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Leanne Smith has never competed at a Paralympics. Came into this week’s world championships with zero world medals. But she leaves London with three individual golds, most for any American, one year before the Tokyo Games.

Smith, 21, won the 150m individual medley, 50m breaststroke and 100m freestyle in her classification, all in American record times. The last two titles came on the final day of the seven-day meet on Sunday.

Smith, diagnosed with a rare neurological muscle disease called dystonia in January 2012, began swimming in 2013. By 2017, she broke a world record and then debuted at the world championships with a best individual finish of sixth.

The U.S. finished with 35 total medals and 14 golds, ranking sixth in the overall standings. Ukraine, usually strong at the Paralympics, led the way with 55 medals. Full results are here.

Jessica Long, the second-most-decorated U.S. Paralympian in history with 23 medals, earned six this week — five silvers and a bronze — to give her 52 career world championships medals.

Two-time Paralympian Mallory Weggemann earned two golds this week, giving her 15 world titles in three appearances (her others being in 2009 and 2010).

She won 50m titles in the butterfly and freestyle. Weggemann won a 2012 Paralympic 50m free title but was fortunate just to make it back for Rio after a 2014 accident that she said was harder to come back from than her teenage paralysis. She left Rio with no medals but a resolve to return for a third Games in Tokyo.

“I’m two seconds away from bursting into tears,” Weggemann said after winning the first of her two golds in the 50m fly, according to U.S. Paralympics. “I had a really rough go these past three years since Rio, so to finally be back after busting my butt to be here, and to be here in London of all places, is absolutely incredible.”

Fellow Rio Paralympians McKenzie Coan and Robert Griswold added two golds a piece.

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Heimana Reynolds wins skateboard world title, nears an Olympic goal from age 10

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In February 2009, a 10-year-old Heimana Reynolds was profiled by his local NBC TV station on Oahu.

“My goal is to become a professional skateboarder and compete in the X Games and the Olympics,” he said, according to the report.

Skateboarding would not be added to the Olympics for another seven years. But here Reynolds is, age 21, having just won the world title in park, one of two skateboarding events that debut at the Games in Tokyo.

Reynolds, who wasn’t named to the four-man U.S. national team in March, consolidated his lead in the Olympic qualification rankings by prevailing over a pair of Brazilians in Sao Paulo on Sunday.

A shirtless Reynolds scored 88 points in the final, beating Luis Francisco (85.50) and Pedro Quintas (85).

No more than three Americans can make the Olympic team in the event, which will make it difficult if three-time Olympic halfpipe snowboarding champion Shaun White decides to continue his skateboarding pursuit. White was the sixth-best American, bowing out in the semifinals in 13th place on Saturday in just his second contest since returning to competitive skating last year.

Back to Reynolds. He grew up on the North Shore and attended the Punahou School, where Barack Obama is the most famous alum. His first name is Tahitian, reportedly referring to the power of Jesus’ crown of thorns.

Reynolds, the son of a surfer, proved a natural on land. After pre-teen media profiles, he blossomed into a world silver medalist last year. He won an Olympic qualifier in China in July to take the top spot in the Olympic rankings despite a best career X Games finish of sixth.

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