From rowing to cross-country skiing and ice skating, athletes at PyeongChang Winter Games will be gliding with grace — and love.
Ice dancing duo Evan Bates and Madison Cook first met on the ice as competitors, and over time they built a friendship that turned into love.
“We realized that we should be together,” says Bates, who placed 8th in Sochi with Cook. “Having someone to lean on and not talk about skating and have real lives outside of the rink together, that was really nice for us and exciting. We’ve grown together and we have this amazing life together where we get to travel the country doing what we love.”
(They’re not the only skating couple at the PyeongChang Olympics, married pairs skaters Alexa Scimeca Knierim and Chris Knierim are also competing for gold this weekend in the team event.)
For ski jumper Sarah Hendrickson and Torin Yater Wallace, a freestyle skier, they got to know each other and bonded after both suffering injuries.
“So injuries aren’t the worst thing ever,” quips Yater Wallace.
Hendrickson — who describes herself as an intense and serious person — says that Yater Wallace is super-nice and really laid back.
“We’re quite different people and we do very different sports, but everything kind of falls into place and he really balances me out,” she says. “He keep me level.”
Three-time paralympian Oksana Masters tells PEOPLE that if she had to be stuck with anyone from Team USA, it’d be her boyfriend, Aaron Pike, who’s also a Paralympic athlete.
“We would probably kill each other, but I wouldn’t want to be stuck on an island with anyone else,” says the rower and cross-country skier. “He better say the same thing if he was asked.”
Masters says that dating another athlete is a “honestly a little bit of everything.”
“You learn from each other says,” says Masters, who’s been dating the skier for almost four years. “I love him because he makes me remember every single day to basically laugh at the small things in life.”
They both understand how demanding their schedules can be which makes it easier.
“That’s one of the most amazing things,” says Masters, who laughs over the fact that Pike has has more products for his beard than she does for her hair or face. “He understands who I am.”
Danelle Umstead, a blind paralymic apline skier, met her future husband and fellow skier, Rob Umstead, while in line to get food on February 17, 2005.
When she heard his voice, she asked her friend what he looked like.
“She was like, ‘tall, dark and handsome,’” Danelle recalls. “He scoots over a couple chairs next to me, we started talking and we’ve been talking ever since.”
Since then, Rob has served as her guide as she makes it down the mountain.
“As a kid, being a ski racer, that was always a goal and ambition of mine to represent our country at the games,” he says, “and here we are doing it together.”