When the 244 athletes for Team USA march into the 2018 Winter Olympics on Feb. 9 in Pyeongchang, South Korea, matched in cozy Ralph Lauren duds, some will especially stand out from the pack. According to the New York Post, part of the American women competing on the slopes will rock pink hair, for good reason.
“I started putting pink in my hair to show people that cross-country skiing is a fun, exciting and dynamic sport,” cross-country skier Kikkan Randall told the outlet. “The bright pink makes me feel energetic and confident … [and it’s] become a way for me to show that I can be a strong athlete and still be a girl.”
Likewise, skeleton racer Katie Uhlaender will return to the Games with her signature fiery fuchsia tresses, while snowboarder Chloe Kim has traded her light cotton-candy pink locks for a bleached blonde for her first Olympics.
The tradition of pink locks is so strong at the Winter Games for the U.S. Olympic team, that US Ski & Snowboard VP Tom Kelly has a running bet with any rose-headed athletes — if they win a medal, he’ll dye his gray locks to match.
Kelly admits that although he’s “’lost’” twice, with victories from snowboarder Rosey Fletcher in Turin, Italy in 2006 and skier Shannon Bahrke in Vancouver in 2010, the wager still stands with Randall for the 2018 Games.
Neverthless, the neon-haired stars of Team USA aren’t the first to make a splash for their bright hairdos on the world's stage. Recently, Jamaican track and field sprinter Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce made waves for her patriotic yellow and green hair at the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro, while U.S. swimmer Ryan Lochte’s coloring mishap at the same event led to laughter.
Lochte's dyed-silver locks accidentally turned a minty green in the chlorinated waters during the competition, People reported at the time.