Saturday, February 8, 2014

50 Winter Olympic Athletes to Follow on Instagram

Snowboarding women from @aimee_fuller
Just as in London in 2012, you can follow a lot of the Sochi athletes on Instagram and other social media to dramatically improve the fan experience for the Winter Olympics.  From Twitter to Facebook to Instagram, you can follow Olympians to get a behind the scenes glimpse into the Winter Games.

On Twitter, you can follow hashtags that are of particular interest such as #sochi #winterolympics #teamusa or #teamcanada.  The stream when you search for these or other common Olympic hashtags will be full of interesting tweets, photos and videos from fans and athletes making the trek to Sochi.

For me, the most fun is following the athletes on Instagram.  Since they always have their smartphones with them, you get amazing photos from athletes right in the heart of the action.  There will be photos from athletes just before and just after they compete.  Some will take photos at the awards ceremony, maybe even right on the Medals Podium.  You really can't get any closer to the athletes than their own cellphones, which makes Instagram such an amazing tool for following the Olympic Games.

Here now is a list of some of the most interesting athletes, coaches and media sources for following the Sochi Olympics on Instagram.  I generally tried to include the most active IG sharers on the list, although with certain sports (c'mon hockey players), I had to post anyone I could find because none of them share many photos.  Sorry so many TeamUSA competitors but they are the largest team in Sochi, they are the most active users of IG as a group and, I admit it, I am a bit biased.  I will continually update and add to this list during the games.

Alpine Skiing
Speed, speed and more speed -- that is what makes Alpine Skiing so exciting.  Flying down the mountain at over 90 miles per hour at times, these speed demons are pure adrenaline.

Bobby Brown (USA)
Chillin' it at the top of the Mtn from @bobby_brown1
Brown is a 22 year old freestyle skier from Colorado who has taken Gold several times in Winter X Game competitions.  He is one of the favorites to medal in the freestyle Slopestyle event in Sochi
400 photos  56,600 followers

DuFour-LaPointe Sisters (Canada)
An amazing story, three DuFour-LaPointe sisters are competing in Freestyle Moguls events at the Sochi Winter Olympics.  Justine and Chloe finished 1st and 2nd in the first event to capture Gold and Silver.  19 year old, Justine, is the most active on IG but you can follow all three below.
200 photos  6,000 followers
2 photos  980 followers
42 photos  1,200 followers

Cool olympic shot from @keriherman
Travis Ganong (USA)
Competing in his first Olympics, Ganong surprised everyone with a 5th place finish in the Downhill competition in Sochi.  He is looking to surprise again in the Super G later in the competition.
332 photos  3,700 followers

Keri Herman (USA)
Keri is a freestyle skier competing in the new Slopestyle event.  She has won several medals in multiple Winter X Games and now hopes to bring that success to the Olympics.   She is a very active Instagram user and is sharing lots of great shots from Sochi.
 435 photos  18,700 followers

Mayer with his Gold medal from @mothl
Matthias Mayer (Austria)
Matthias is a 23 year old speed demon from Austria.  His father, Herman Mayer, won a Gold for Austria in the Slalom back in the 80s.  Competing in his first Olympics, Mayer surprised the World to capture Gold in the Downhill and will be competing in the Slalom and Super G later in the Winter Olympics.
 97 photos  6,500 followers

Bode Miller (USA)
Already a highly decorated Olympic skier with 5 medals including one Gold, Bode is competing in his 5th Winter Olympics.  At 36 years old, it is an amazing feat and will be fun to watch.
46 photos  26,600 followers

Dominik Paris (Italy)
An Italian skier, Paris will be competing in his first Olympics in Sochi.  He is an exciting skier that will be competing in both the Downhill and Super G events.
82 photos  3,500 followers

Shot of the downhill course from @asvindal
Mikaela Shiffrin (USA)
Mikaela is an 18 year old ski racer for Team USA.  She will be competing in the Slalom and the Giant Slalom.
255 photos  37,000 followers

Aksel Lund Svindal (Norway)
At 31, Svindal is at the high end of the range for downhill racing but he is still winning at an amazing rate and remains a favorite for Gold in Super G in Sochi.  He won the Gold in that event in Vancouver 2010.  He is a prolific IG user so a great follow for skiing fans.
425 photos  113,600 followers

David Wise (USA)
Fresh off a Gold medal win in the Winter X Games in the freestyle halfpipe event, this 23 year old is hoping to duplicate that success with Gold in Sochi.  He is an active IG user.
210 photos  6,500 followers

Figure Skating
Combining grace and beauty, figure skating is one of the most watched events at the Winter Olympics.  There is always high drama either from the pressure on the favorites to the young upstarts that often steal the show.  Here are some active Instagram users to follow from Figure Skating.

Patrick Chan (Canada)
Chan is an 24 year old, 3 time World Champion for Team Canada.  He is considered one of the best Men's skaters in the World and a favorite to compete for Gold in Sochi.
100 photos  7,500 followers
Meryl and Charlie from @meryledavis
Carolina Kostner (Italy)
An Italian figure skater from Italy.  She competed in each of the last two Olympics for Italy but has never finished higher than 9th.  She hopes to improve on that and grab a medal in Sochi.
81 photos  2,100 followers

Meryl Davis and Charlie White (USA)
Meryl Davis is one half of the US Ice Dancing pair with Charlie White.  The pair won the Silver Medal in the 2010 Winter Olympics and hope to improve on that by winning the Gold in Sochi.
280 photos  9,900 followers
47 photos  7,800 followers

Gracie Gold (USA)
Gold is an 18 year old US skater who will be competing in her first Olympics.  She placed first in the US Olympic Championships and is a favorite to compete for a medal in the Women's competition in Sochi. 
Figure skaters at the Team event from @ashwagner2010
300 photos  34,000 followers

Evengi Plushenko (Russia)
Competing in his 4th Olympic Games, Plushenko has a Gold and 2 Silver medals already and will now look to grab one more in Sochi.
21 photos  27,300 followers

Ashley Wagner (USA)
Wagner is a 22 year old skater who will be competing in her first Olympics.  She has been on Instagram for several years and has built a strong following by sharing lots of photos.
300 photos  17,900 followers

Like basketball in the summer games, hockey is the galvanizing team sport for the winter games.  Every country hangs on every minute of each game of the team's games in the Winter Olympics.  In general, the hockey players do not share as many photos as the other sports so I had to list some players that share very few photos.  Here are some of the top competitors from many of the competing countries.

Photo day for TeamUSA from @meganebozek

Nicklas Backstrom (Sweden)
Backstrom plays for the Washington Capitals in the NHL but he will be representing TeamSweden in Sochi.
40 photos  4,600 followers

Megan Bozek (USA)
The favorites to win Gold in Sochi, the US Women's will face stiff competition from Canada.  This 22 year old anchors TeamUSA's staunch defense and she is one of the few hockey players that shares a lot of photos.
175 photos  750 followers

Sidney Crosby (Canada)
Sidney Crosby is the Captain of TeamCanada and a big reason why they won the Gold in Vancouver.  He will be trying to bring home another Gold with one of the most talented group of hockey players ever assembled for Canada.
10 photos  26,000 followers

Cool fan art from @88p_kane
Pavel Datsyuk (Russia)
Datsyuk is considered one of the best passers in the world and plays with both the Detroit Red Wings and TeamRussia.  He will need to be a key component if TeamRussia hopes to grab a medal on home ice.
83 photos  35,600 followers

Patrick Kane (USA)
Patrick Kane is one of the anchors of TeamUSA and one of the points leaders in the NHL for the Blackhawks.  His expert skating and passing will create a lot of scoring opportunities for the young USA team.
54 photos  10,600 followers

Amanda Kessel (USA)
Amanda is one of the most dynamic forwards on TeamUSA.  She is the sister of Phil Kessel, who plays for the Toronto Maple Leafs and the USA Men's team.  Amanda's skating really sets her apart giving her the ability to create space when she drives to the net.
75 photos  1,100 followers

From Kopecky's feed @kopec_82

Hilary Knight (USA)
Hilary is going into her second Olympics after helping TeamUSA win the Silver medal in Vancouver.  TeamUSA is favored to win the Gold but the competition is stiff and the women will have to perform at their very best to win it.
170 photos  3,200 followers

Tomas Kopecky (Slovakia)
Kopecky is a forward for the Florida Panthers and TeamSlovakia.  He has been a member of two Stanley Cup winning teams for the Blackhawks and the Red Wings.
28 photos  1,900 followers

Lamoureux Twins (USA)
TeamUSA strategy session from @moniquelam7
Two adept skating forwards for TeamUSA, Monique and Jocelyne Lamoureax, play on the same line for the Americans and know each other so well they are great passing partners.  They will put a lot of pressure on opposing teams defense.  Monique is the more active IG user having shared over 300 photos.
314 photos  2,000 followers
105 photos  1,700 followers

Evgeni Malkin (Russia)
Malkin is the third of the 3 NHL All Stars on TeamRussia.  Malkin of the Pittsburgh Penguins has a Stanley Cup Championship and won the Conn Smythe trophy that year.  He is active on Instagram and should post lots of interesting photos from Sochi.
75 photos  25,000 followers

Ovechkin and Malkin from @ovi_caps8
 Alex Ovechkin (Russia)
Ovechkin is one of the stars of Team Russia and one of the all stars from the NHL that will be competing in Sochi.  Ovechkin and the Russian team have a lot of pressure to try to bring home the Gold competing in Russia.  While not impossible, it will be an uphill battle for the Russian team.
12 photos  11,500 followers

Patrick Sharp (Canada)
Patrick Sharp is a leading scorer for the NHL Champion, Blackhawks,
and a member of TeamCanada.  This will be Sharp's first Olympics so he should share some great photos during the journey.
37 photos  7,600 followers

Hayley Wickenheiser (Canada)
Hayley is the leading goal scorer in Olympic hockey history and she is back to add to that tally in Sochi.  She is new to Instagram but has begun posting pictures from Sochi so check her out.
4 photos  100 followers

One could really put together a list of 50 Snowboarders because these guys and gals seem to have more fun at the Olympics than any other group.  Always interesting, this alternative X Games group of athletes post a lot of photos from the top and the bottom of the mountain.

Amazing shot during training from @jamieandersonsnow

Jamie Anderson (USA)
Jamie Anderson is a 23 year old Slopestyle snowboarder from Utah.  Landing two 720s during the finals, she grabbed the Gold medal in Slopestyle on Day 2 of the Sochi Olympics.  She also loves to share on IG and you will not be disappointed in following her.
590 photos  40,000 followers

Greg Bretz (USA)
Competing in his second Olympics, Bretz hopes to improve on his 12th place finish in the Halfpipe in 2010.  He is an epic IG user having shared over 400 photos.
419 photos  17,700 followers

Kelly Clark (USA)
At 30, Kelly is one of the senior members of the Snowboarding community.  Competing in her 3rd Olympics, she already has a Gold and a Bronze medal in the Halfpipe and will try to add to that tally in Sochi.
TravelinDan going off trail from @travelindan
486 photos  21,000 followers

Danny Davis (USA)
Travelin Dan always delivers with his Instagram photos.  You can see his sense of humor through some of his shots and unbelievable terrain in others.  With over 680 photos shared, his extensive feed is fun to browse through.
682 photos  42,100 followers
Aimee Fuller (Great Britain)
Aimee Fuller is a 22 year old snowboarder from the UK.  She is a huge IG user having shared over 650 photos so a great follow for the Olympics.
650 photos  18,000 followers

Amazing Sochi shot from @nateholland
Nate Holland (USA)
Holland competes in the epicly cool event of Snowboard Cross -- Racing on Snowboards.  He also is an amazing amateur photographer and takes some unbelievable shots going "off trail".  He has shared over 300 photos on IG so you will want to follow Nate.
300 photos  2,800 followers
Jenny Jones (Great Britain)
At 33 years old, Jenny Jones is the oldest Snowboard competitor but age did not seem to slow her down as she threw down excellent runs in Slopestyle and grabbed the Bronze medal on Day 2 of the Sochi Winter Games.
265 photos  9,800 followers

Sage and Aimee Fuller from @sagekotsenburg
Sage Kotsenburg (USA)
Kotsenburg grabbed the first US Gold medal in Sochi competing in the Slopestyle Snowboard event.  Big air and amazing tricks are the mainstay for Sage and he might also be one of the most active Instagram users in the game.  Definitely follow this interesting athlets on IG.
650 photos  43,000 followers

Mark McMorris (Canada)
McMorris was the favorite to win Gold in the Slopestyle Snowboarding event until he broke a rib in a practice run.  Despite that injury he is still competing and coming off a Gold medal performance in the Winter X Games.  He is a prolific IG user and a must follow for snowboarding fans.
595 photos  204,700 followers
Snowboarders at practice from @siljenorendal

Silje Norendal (Norway)
Coming off a Gold medal performance in the 2014 Winter X Games, there is a lot of hope for Norway to grab a few medals in the Snowboarding events.  She will be competing in both the Slopestyle and Halfpipe events in Sochi.
274 photos  72,000 followers

Max Parrot (Canada)
Parrot is a 19 year old Slopestyle snowboarder from Canada and the reigning X Games Champion.  He is one of the favorites to medal in Sochi.
227 photos  16,700 followers

Shaun White (USA)
Shaun White has done more for the growth of snowboarding than any other athlete.  Having won multiple Golds in two Olympic Games, he is back in Sochi for his 3rd games to continue to set all the records for snowboarding.
175 photos  190,000 followers

Other Events
There are so many other events in the Olympics and I will try to capture other interesting athletes to follow from these other events such as Speed Skating, Bobsled, Nordic sports and more.

Jorrit Bergsma (Netherlands)
Another of the strong Dutch skaters, Bergsma won the Bronze medal in the first speed skating event the 5,000 meters in Sochi 2014.
35 photos  350 followers
Celski on the Short Track from @celskeet

Marit Bjorgen (Norway)
Marit is a Skiathlon competitor and one of the best ever.  She retained her Gold medal status in Sochi after also winning the Gold in the marathon event in Vancouver.
24 photos  32,500 followers

Havard Bokko (Norway)
Bokka is a Norwegian Speed Skater competing in the shorter Speed events.  This is his second Olympics and he hopes to improve on his Bronze medal performance in Vancouver. 
125 photos  7,200 followers

J.R. Celski (USA)
JR is a 23 year old from Salt Lake City.  Competing in his second Olympics, he has taken the mantle from Apollo Ohno as the best hope for medals on the Speed Skating Short Track.
177 photos  8,300 followers

TeamUSA competitors from @k8ertotz
Kate Hanson (USA)
Hanson is a 21 year old Luge competitor from California.  She is also now better known from viral videos of her pre-race dancing to Beyonce.  She is taking full advantage of Instagram to document her journey in Sochi for all her fans and friends.
108 photos  3,500 followers

Lolo Jones (USA)
One of those rare Olympic athletes that competes both in Summer and Winter Olympics.  Lolo will be in Sochi competing in the Bobsled events this time after competing in the Hurdles in the 2012 London Games. 
118 photos  132,000 followers

Sven Kramer (Netherlands)
Tutt and Tanaka from @speedsk8ter92
Kramer is a Dutch long distance speed skater and already a Gold Medal winner in the 5,000 meters in Vancouver 2010.  However, after racing what would have been a Gold Medal time in the 10,000 meters, he was disqualified for his foot going over the top of a cone during a lane change.  He is back to avenge Vancouver and hopes to win Gold in both events this time.
56 photos  18,000 follower

Atsuko Tanaka (Canada)
In the first ever Women's Ski Jumping event, Tanaka will be flying through the air for TeamCanada.  She is also a great photo sharer on Instagram and you will find lots of behind the scenes pics.
296 photos  500 followers

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