The 2014 Winter Olympics begins on Friday in Sochi, Russia, and Americans are ready to cheer 230 of their countrymen and women in a host of events, many of which are Olympic fan favorites.
These athletes will face the rest of the world’s best on the snow and ice this year, but several experts are showing favor for the U.S. contingent in many areas thanks to the group’s previous Olympic experience and a number of returning medal winners.
There are 15 “disciplines” in the Winter Olympics this year – representing a total of 98 events – and many of them are new to the Games, so speculating on every event is a lost cause. But, there are a few events that look like sure bets for the U.S. team and so have made our list of events to watch:
Snowboarding is exciting to watch even when it’s not the “Flying Tomato” in the halfpipe, but Shaun White is sure to make things interesting in Sochi. His recent (and controversial) announcement that he <a title="LA Times" href="http://www.latimes.com/sports/olympics/olympicsnow/la-sp-sn-shaun-white-withdraws-from-slopestyle-event-at-olympics-20140205,0,2956074.story#axzz2sUFNO9Hn" target="_blank">will not be competing in the new “slopestyle” event</a>, while disappointing, will likely only help his chances in snagging gold in the men’s halfpipe event.
In the women’s snowboard events, all eyes will be on Kelly Clark. She’s an Olympic veteran stacked with experience and gold medals, and will be looking to add to her reservoir of both in Russia.
Skeleton, perhaps the most ridiculously dangerous sport in the Winter Olympics, returned to the Olympic event lineup in 2002 after a 54-year absence from the Games – likely for being so obviously lethal. That hasn’t stopped people from doing it, though, and nobody does it better than Noelle Pikus-Place. She’s a clear contender for gold and the American to beat this year.
<strong>3. Alpine Skiing</strong>
Bode Miller, perhaps one of the most recognized figures of this year’s Games, will again take to the slopes in Sochi. He’s got a list of medals a mile long, including the bronze, silver and gold he snagged in Vancouver in 2010. He faces tough competition this year, but is expected to handle the powder with panache in his chosen events.
Shani Davis is a world gold medalist and speedskating record-setter many times over and will be one of a handful of Americans defending his spot in first at the Sochi Games. In fact, he will be a two-time defender – Davis has achieved gold in the last two Olympics and a win in Sochi will make him the only American to win the same event in three Winter Games.
<strong>5. BONUS: Figure Skating / Pairs Figure Skating</strong>
We’re adding figure skating simply because it dominates the field in terms of fan loyalty, but the truth is that the U.S. is going to face a hard fight this year in all five events featured among these disciplines.
Marissa Castelli and Simon Shnapir are the U.S. favorites in the pairs skating event despite having no Games experience, while among the solo figure skaters America’s hopes will fall to Jeremy Abbott, although the task ahead may seem to him like ice skating uphill.
<a title="ATG Stores Homepage" href="http://www.atgstores.com/" target="_blank">ATGStores.com</a> hopes you enjoy this year’s Winter Olympics and welcomes you to vote for your favorite discipline.