NASHVILLE, Tenn.—Bridgestone Americas Inc. will support five of Team USA's athletes on the road to the 2018 Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games in PyeongChang, South Korea.
The athletes chosen for Bridgestone's first Winter Games are Nathan Chen (figure skating), Elana Meyers Taylor (bobsled), Amy Purdy (para snowboarding), Evan Strong (para snowboarding) and Ashley Wagner (figure skating). They have a combined five Olympic and Paralympic medals.
Team Bridgestone athletes are selected based on qualifications related to the company's core values, their personal stories, performance attributes and community involvement. Each athlete will receive financial support and access to Bridgestone products and technologies. As brand ambassadors, they also will participate in community, customer and employee activities leading up to and during next year's Olympic Winter Games PyeongChang 2018.
Chen is a contender to win Team USA's first medal in men's figure skating since 2010, as the first person ever to land five clean quadruple jumps in a single program at the 2017 U.S. Figure Skating Championships in January. He did it again one month later to claim the ISU Four Continents title at the Olympic test event in South Korea. The 18-year-old's run comes just a year after a serious hip injury sidelined him for nearly five months. Chen recently was named one of 20 "Next Generation Leaders" by Time magazine.
Meyers Taylor declared her intention to be an Olympian at the age of nine, hoping to represent the U.S. in softball. But when the sport was removed from the Olympic program in 2005, she transitioned to bobsled in the summer of 2007. She won bronze in Vancouver as a brakewoman and then silver in Sochi as a driver, becoming the first female bobsled athlete to win a medal in both positions. The 32-year-old is also the first woman to win an international medal in a men's event and the first American to win a women's bobsled world championship, which she has done twice.
Purdy is a bronze medal winner in the Paralympic Winter Games in Sochi 2014. She was just 19 when she lost her legs as a result of meningitis, which also led to a kidney transplant less than two years later. An avid snowboarder before her life-altering experience, she returned to the sport and won three medals at the 2001 USASA National Championships just three months after receiving the kidney donated by her father. At 37, Purdy continues to be one of the top-ranked adaptive snowboarders in the world, and the only female double leg amputee competing at the world-class level. She is also a New York Times best-selling author and co-founded Adaptive Action Sports, a non-profit that helps those with permanent disabilities get involved in action sports.
Strong lost his left leg at 17 after the motorcycle he was riding was hit by a drunk driver. Strong connected with the Challenged Athletes Foundation during his recovery in hopes of finding a way to skateboard again. He first tried snowboarding in 2007 and is now one of the most dominant athletes in adaptive snowboarding at 30 years old, with multiple World Cup titles, a Winter X Games gold medal and a Paralympic gold medal in the debut of snowboard cross at Sochi 2014. He mentors youth and adult amputees through his work with Adaptive Action Sports.
Wagner won a silver medal at the Junior Grand Prix Finals in 2007 and moved up to the senior level the following year. Since then, she has won three U.S. national championships and reached the podium 24 times in national and international competitions, including a bronze medal in the team event at the Olympic Winter Games in Sochi in 2014. Wagner also claimed silver at the 2016 World Championships, becoming the first American woman in a decade to medal at the event. The 26-year-old currently lives and trains in Los Angeles.
In addition to the company's support of Team Bridgestone athletes and its standing as a Worldwide Olympic Partner, Bridgestone is a partner of the United States Olympic Committee and U.S. Paralympics through 2024. Bridgestone also became the first Founding Partner of the Olympic Channel in August 2016, signing a four-year agreement to support the platform.