The Winter Olympic Games are a refreshing break from the monotony of your average mainstream sports. Every four years, we get to see athletes from all over the world achieving unfathomable feats on the snow and ice.
This year’s games in Sochi, Russia are only about a week away. Let’s pick through the United States’ team and identify some athletes to watch.
Figure skater Evan Lysacek struck gold in the Vancouver Olympics in 2010 and will attempt to capture back-to-back gold medals in Sochi. Lysacek has flown relatively under the radar for the last four years simply because he shied away from essentially all competitive skating. In fact, it was rumored at one point that he was going to announce his retirement. However, he emerged with the goal of competing in the 2014 Winter Olympic Games and we will see whether the time off has caused some rust to develop.
Does the name Lolo Jones ring a bell? Well, it should. Even though she didn’t medal in the 2012 Summer Olympic Games in London, she was one of the more high-profile athletes. Everyone knew this hurdler was athletic, but she is confirming that fact by qualifying for the Winter Olympics as a pusher for the United States bobsled team. This will be a great opportunity for Jones to finally earn an Olympic medal, something that has escaped her for the last two Summer Games.
No one is more of a rock star to snowboarding than Shaun White. He practically wrote the book on it. For the last two Winter Games, White has waltzed into the half pipe event and won the gold medal seemingly effortless. White looks to make it three in a row in Sochi, but he will also be partaking in the slope style event. This might be the last Olympic games we see White in, so drink it up.
Apolo Anton Ohno will not be in action for the United States this year in short track speed skating. This leaves J.R. Celski to carry the torch for the U.S.A. While the fresh-faced speedster might look young, this is not his first rodeo. He captured two bronze medals in Vancouver and has two gold medals under his belt at the World Championships.
While we are talking about speed skating, you can’t miss arguably the most high-profile American athlete in these upcoming games: Shani Davis. Davis was the gold medal winner in the 1000-meter in both Turin (2006) and Vancouver. He is going for his third and looking to cement his name as one of the greatest speed skaters ever to live.
Moving to the slopes, Ted Ligety will definitely be one to watch for the Americans. Ligety was a gold medal winner in Turin. After performing very well at the World Championships last year and the year before, Ligety is poised to add more medals to his collection.
With three Olympic medals to her name, and one of those being a gold from 2006, Julia Mancuso is probably the biggest name in women’s alpine skiing with Lindsey Vonn out the Olympics with injury. She won her gold in the Giant Slalom but is also a force on downhill, Super G and combined. Expect her to do big things.
One thing is for sure; there is bound to be memorable performances across the board. After all, it’s the Olympics! Let’s hope security concerns and no incidents spoil the party.