The United States will be sending more athletes to the 2014 winter Olympics in Sochi than any other country attending, with a total of 224. Canada ranks second with 222, and host nation Russia comes in third with 216. According to infostradasports.com, the U.S. and Norway are expected to tie for the most gold medals with 14. Though, Norway is expected to lead in total medals with 36, and the U.S. predicted to end up with around 30.
Perennial favorite in the alpine skiing, Lindsey Vonn, will not be competing this year. Vonn aggravated her surgically repaired right knee at a race in France on Dec. 21. That opens up an opportunity for Mikaela Shiffrin, an 18-year-old from Vail, Colo. Many people might not recognize the name, but with Vonn out Shiffrin is poised to gather multiple medals in Sochi. Shiffrin is currently number one on the International Ski Federation’s leaderboard, and the youngest American to win a World Cup in any discipline.
Shaun White clinched a spot on the American team in the half pipe on the Jan. 19, and is frequently considered the best snowboarder in the world. White along with teammates Taylor Gold and Greg Bertz look to help the U.S. gather the most medals.
The U.S. has historically had great figure skaters, and this year they have strong contenders once again, on both the men’s and women’s teams.
Although the American women are technically considered to be underdogs in Sochi, they have three strong skaters who can make a run at the podium. Gracie Gold, an 18-year-old from Massachusetts, has the best chances of grabbing a medal. Ashley Wagner, 22, is the elder stateswoman and leader of the team. Although she has the most experience, she barely made the team for the Olympics and after a fourth place finish at nationals, was chosen for her credentials. That leaves 15-year-old Polina Edmunds. Edmunds has no international experience, and was considered a long shot to make the team. She turned in an incredible second place performance at nationals.
The men’s team has a slightly better chance of taking home at least one medal. Jeremy Abbott, 28, of Detroit, has been the leader of team U.S.A. for a couple years now and has competed in previous Olympics. Even though he finished first at nationals and will lead the U.S. to Sochi, it’s a 19-year-old that everyone is talking about. Jason Brown turned in a stunning free skate that brought the crowd to its feet, before he even finished his program. He took the lead, but eventually ended up with the silver medal, behind Abbott.
A star athlete from the summer Olympics Track and field team, Lolo Jones, has made the bobsled team. The headlines lost by the absence of Lindsey Vonn could be filled by Jones, with a smooth transition to the winter Olympics. The U.S. should grab plenty of hardware by the time it is all said and done, all that’s left is to sit back and watch. The games begin Feb. 7.