United States Hopeful For Top Medal Count

Quinn Daly

The 22nd Winter Olympics begins Thursday, February 6 and will run for 17 days, concluding on February 23. With a budget of nearly $50 billion, Sochi will be by far the most expensive Olympic Games to date. The United States will be sending 230 athletes in hopes of improving on last Olympics’ third-place total medal finish. The United States will face its biggest competition from the perennial Olympic powerhouses of Canada, Germany and Russia who will be sending 220, 153 and 225 athletes, respectively.

The Olympics often appeal to us because they are unlike any other globally staged sporting event. Many of the competitors are amateur athletes, giving us a connection to the everyday person compared to the professional celebrities that dominate the usual sporting events. Of course, we will see athletes that have become household names from past Olympics, such as half-pipe extraordinaire Shaun White and five-time downhill skiing medalist Bode Miller. Unfortunately, the United States will be losing out on a great opportunity to cash in on gold medals with the absence of alpine skier Lindsey Vonn, who will not be participating in the Games due to an injured right knee. The loss will be detrimental to Team USA’s chances at winning the gold medal battle, as she won both a gold and a bronze medal at the 2010 Vancouver Olympics.

An odd story to look out for in this year’s Games is that of Lolo Jones, 2012 Olympic Summer Games veteran. Jones is a two-time medalist who has temporarily converted from track and field to the sport of bobsledding in hopes of winning more hardware. Jones added 30 pounds of muscle to her powerful 130-pound frame in order to help her team achieve greater speeds during the beginning of the run.

What many of us look for during the games, however, are the no-names: the grinders who haven’t yet had their 15 minutes of fame, but still train year after year while working their normal jobs in hopes of medaling during their one Olympic shot. Mikaela Shiffrin will step up to fill the void Lindsey Vonn leaves behind. At the young age of 17, Shiffrin won the World Cup alpine event in 2012, and her recent successes winning five times in World Cup races since the 2013 season indicates that she could very well pull off a medal win. 19-year old Sarah Hendrickson will be competing for Team USA in the newly added Women’s Ski Jumping, and her recent second overall finish in the World Cup Standings indicate that she may be a favorite for winning the event’s first ever gold medal.

One of the biggest storylines to look out for is speed skater Shani Davis. Davis is well known for being the first black athlete to win an individual gold medal at the Winter Olympics and looks to defend the 1,000-meter speed skating race after winning gold in 2006 and 2010.

With all the political turmoil regarding human rights, animal rights and potential terrorist threats, we can only hope for a safe Olympics. Allowing that, I see a very competitive Olympics, with Team USA playing many athletes who will medal and an interesting debut of new events. Hopefully Team USA can convert many of the bronze and silver medals from the 2010 Olympics into enough golds to win the gold-medal tally at this year’s Games.

Contact Quinn Daly at [email protected]