June/July 2017 SKATING Magazine: Team USA Gets the Hollywood Treatment

By Mimi McKinnis

Photo Credit: Getty Images/USOC

Photo Credit: Getty Images/USOC

Though a relaxed excitement filled the air, there was also no doubt: With World Team Trophy in rearview, all eyes had turned to the Olympic Winter Games PyeongChang 2018.

At Quixote Studios in West Hollywood, California, members of Team USA waited for the Olympic media parade to commence.

Gracie Gold sat in a hair and make-up chair as Vincent Zhou watched a video on his phone between shoots. Nathan Chen and Mariah Bell looked over their schedules, and Maia and Alex Shibutani took a selfie. Madison Chock and Mirai Nagasu speculated over photos they’d seen on social media earlier in the week, wondering when they’d get to a photo session that included two baby goats, a piglet, three puppies and a snow-white kitten named Pearl. Bruno Mars’ “24 Karate Magic” blared from the speakers — and the Olympic rings were prominently displayed.

Nearly 100 Olympic and Paralympic hopefuls, selected by NBC and the United States Olympic Committee (USOC), gathered April 25-29 to participate in a media summit for various campaigns leading up to the 2018 Games. The figure skating contingent, composed of 15 athletes, enjoyed two days of Olympic media that included interviews for Team USA and NBC social media, Buzzfeed, the “Today” show, “NBC Nightly News” and People magazine.

“Being able to be here and be among so many incredible athletes is really the best part,” 2015 U.S. pairs champion Alexa Scimeca Knierim said of the experience. “Some athletes are hopefuls, some of them are already on the Olympic team. It’s a great atmosphere to be around.”

While Scimeca Knierim and her partner/husband Chris attended the shoot for the first time, three-time U.S. champion and 2014 Olympian Ashley Wagner made her third appearance, having taken part prior to the 2010 and 2014 Games.

“As a skater, it’s probably the most mentally exhausting media weekend of your life,” Wagner said. “It’s overwhelming for sure, but it’s so cool because it creates so much excitement. It makes the Olympic season feel so real. The Games are really on their way.”

Get a full behind-the-scenes look at Team USA’s experience at the NBC Olympics promotional shoot in the June/July issue of SKATING magazine.