U.S to send record 242 athletes to Pyeongchang Games

(Reuters) - The United States will send the largest team ever to attend a Winter Olympics, 242 athletes, to next month's Pyeongchang Games, the U.S. Olympic Committee announced on Friday.

Alpine skier Lindsey Vonn, figure skating favorite Nathan Chen and speedskater Shani Davis, the winner of four Olympic medals, headline the team of 107 women and 135 men who will be seeking to earn the United States their 100th Olympic gold and 300th medal.

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The Americans won 28 medals, including nine golds, at the 2014 Sochi Olympics and with 103 Olympians returning, they are looking for an equally strong showing.

"It's been pretty brutal to wait for another Olympics," said Vonn, who will be making her fourth appearance at a Games having missed out on a trip to Sochi in 2014 with a knee injury.

"I am so excited, it is probably my last Olympics," added the 2010 Vancouver downhill gold medalist who recently claimed a record 79th World Cup race.

For Chen, a prediction he made as a 10-year-old that he would become an Olympian is about to become a reality.

"It is crazy," said the figure skater, "to think that eight years later here I am, I made that dream happen."

Ten Olympic champions are on the team, including five looking to defend their titles from the 2014 Sochi Games – Jamie Anderson (snowboarding slopestyle), Maddie Bowman (freestyle skiing halfpipe), Ted Ligety (Alpine skiing giant slalom), Mikaela Shiffrin (Alpine skiing slalom) and David Wise (freestyle skiing halfpipe).

"My confidence is through the roof right now," said Wise.

Related: Olympians to watch during the Games: 

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Olympians to watch in 2018
Figure skater Nathan Chen poses for a portrait at the U.S. Olympic Committee Media Summit in Park City, Utah, U.S. September 25, 2017. REUTERS/Lucy Nicholson
Figure skater Adam Rippon poses for a portrait at the U.S. Olympic Committee Media Summit in Park City, Utah, U.S. September 25, 2017. Rippon listens to electronic dance music while he trains. REUTERS/Lucy Nicholson
Ice dancers Alex Shibutani and Maia Shibutani pose for a portrait at the U.S. Olympic Committee Media Summit in Park City, Utah, U.S. September 25, 2017. The pair listens to Coldplay and Perez Prado while they train. REUTERS/Lucy Nicholson
WEST HOLLYWOOD, CA - APRIL 25: Snowboarder Shaun White poses for a portrait during the Team USA PyeongChang 2018 Winter Olympics portraits on April 25, 2017 in West Hollywood, California. (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)
SOUTH BEND,IN - SEPTEMBER 13: Sam McGuffie #2 of the Michigan Wolverines carries the ball during the game against the Notre Dame Fighting Irish on September 13, 2008 at Notre Dame Stadium in South Bend, Indiana. (Photo by: Gregory Shamus/Getty Images)
BUDAPEST, HUNGARY - SEPTEMBER 30: Maame Biney of United States reacts during the ladies 500m quarterfinals heat two during the Audi ISU World Cup Short Track Speed Skating at Bok Hall on September 30, 2017 in Budapest, Hungary. (Photo by Christof Koepsel - ISU/ISU via Getty Images)
MILWAUKEE, WI - JANUARY 05: Erin Jackson competes in the Ladies 500 meter event during the Long Track Speed Skating Olympic Trials at the Pettit National Ice Center on January 5, 2018 in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. (Photo by Stacy Revere/Getty Images)
Jan 1, 2018; Queens, NY, USA; Team USA hockey Olympic player Brian Gionta speaks at a press conference during the second period in the 2018 Winter Classic hockey game between the New York Rangers and the Buffalo Sabres at Citi Field. Mandatory Credit: Danny Wild-USA TODAY Sports
Skiing - Alpine Skiing World Cup - Women's Downhill - Cortina d'Ampezzo, Italy - January 19, 2018. Lindsey Vonn of the U.S. celebrates her second place. REUTERS/Stefano Rellandini
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With 10 African-Americans, 11 Asian-Americans and the first two openly gay male athletes, the 2018 team is the most diverse U.S. team ever.

The squad also will feature the first African-American women to represent the United States in speedskating (Maame Biney and Erin Jackson) and the first African-American on the U.S. hockey team (Jordan Greenway).

Kelly Clark (snowboarding) and Kikkan Randall (cross-country skiing) will become the first female five-time U.S. Olympians at the Winter Games, while Davis becomes the first U.S. speedskater to compete in five Olympics.

Davis also is the most decorated team member with two golds and two silver medals.

(Reporting by Gene Cherry in Salvo, North Carolina, editing by Pritha Sarkar)

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