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Ten men who could be breakout stars at the Winter Olympics

David Wharton, Los Angeles Times on

Published in Olympics

Wondering which athletes will become stars at the 2018 Winter Olympics? Here are 10 to keep an eye on in the men's competitions.

Nathan Chen, figure skating, United States

Chen is a two-time national champion who made history by landing five quadruple jumps during his long program at the 2017 U.S. championships. He did it again this year to remain undefeated for the season. Do the math and it adds up to a potential gold medal in Pyeongchang, where the 18-year-old who lives and trains in Southern California will try to wow judges with his athleticism.

Marcel Hirscher, alpine skiing, Austria

The first man to win six overall World Cup titles in a row is nearing the end of an epic career and racing to avoid a less-pleasant legacy -- best skier never to win gold at the Games. Hirscher, who earned silver in Sochi, has insisted the Olympics will not define him, but he warmed up for Pyeongchang by claiming his 55th World Cup victory in a recent giant slalom in Germany.

Ilya Kovalchuk, men's hockey, Olympic Athlete from Russia

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Kovalchuk left the NHL in 2013 after 11 seasons that saw him record 138 goals and a total of 417 points. The 34-year-old winger is still playing top-notch hockey in his native Russia, leading the KHL in points this season. With the NHL choosing to skip the Olympics this time around, he will headline an OAR team that also has former Detroit Red Wings star Pavel Datsyuk and is favored to win gold in South Korea.

Yuzuru Hanyu, figure skating, Japan

It might sound funny to say the defending Olympic gold medalist and two-time world champion has something to prove, but Hanyu can't be entirely satisfied with his last performance in Pyeongchang, where he lost to Chen in the 2017 Four Continents Championships. One more thing -- the 23-year-old has been struggling with an ankle injury. Gracenote, a sports analytics firm that predicts medal winners, has him taking the silver.

Shaun White, snowboarding, United States

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