US Olympians ready for medal quest at Games

By JeffGraveline

As The 2010 Winter Olympics opened on Feb. 12, United States athletes and fans  watched as the world’s largest athletic stage lifted the curtain. With nearly every country in the world represented, and millions upon millions of people watching their every move, the U.S. athletes at the games will be pushed by the very best competition and most prove they are truly the best at what they do.

With the Games dominating the NBC networks, Americans will have a full plate of winter events to choose from. From curling to ski jumping to hockey, the Winter Olympics feature 15 events.

In hockey, the U.S. women’s and men’s teams are expected to have strong showings in Vancouver. While Canada is the favorite, because of home ice advantage and the skill of both the men’s and women’s teams, the U.S. women’s team is expected to push Team Canada and have a border war final.

“I don’t think there’s any question that Canada is the favorite on both the men’s and women’s side,” said Dave Fischer, senior director of communications for U.S.A. hockey. “On the women’s side, [the U.S. is] right there. I think people would be surprised if it’s not a Canada-U.S. final … [On the men’s side] Canada and Russia are the clear favorites, in that order, here in Vancouver. Certainly Sweden will have a very competitive team, as well. We’re in the mix as well, probably hoping to eke out a bronze medal.”

Also on the ice at the games, the U.S. short and long-track speedskating teams will draw primetime coverage from NBC. That coverage is justified after U.S. speedskating has accounted for 35 percent of the U.S.’s medal count in the last 20 years.

With Chicagoan Shani Davis, a two-time Olympic medalist, Apollo Anton Ohno, a five-time medalist, and Jen Rodriguez, a former bronze medalist in the 1,000 and 1,500 meter events on the women’s team, the U.S. speedskating teams will look to reach their goal: an Olympic record of 12 medals overall.

“[Twelve medals] would be the most ever,” said U.S.A. speedskating president Brad Goskowicz. “We did 11 in Salt Lake City and 10 in Turino. Twelve would be a tremendous achievement, but we think it’s possible.”

On the slopes, Lindsey Vonn has become the face of U.S. skiing following her appearance on the cover of Sports Illustrated. Vonn, however has cast some doubt on her ability to live up to her hype as she recently revealed she has a badly bruised shin that was injured during a training run.

“It was really bad luck, I’d say,” Vonn observed in a press conference before the Games on Feb. 10. “I crashed in slalom training about a week ago. I injured my shin very badly … I have not skiied since my injury a week ago. I don’t know how it’s going to feel. I’ve tried just putting my boot on in my hotel room and I can tell you it’s excruciatingly painful.”

Aside from Vonn, the other big name on the slopes in Whistler, site of the Olympic skiing and snowboarding events, will be Shaun White.

White, who won gold in Turino in the snowboard halfpipe competition, is the heavy favorite to take gold in Vancouver.

“Shaun is really an icon,” said U.S. Ski/Snowboard CEO Bill Marolt in a press conference held in Vancouver Feb. 10. “He has done a terrific job of competing at the very highest level and having tremendous success, while at the same time becoming an ambassador for snowboarding and for extreme sports.”

As the U.S. team and the rest of the athletes gathered ready themselves for the stiffest competition the world has to offer, the U.S. and the world will soon find out who truly is the best of the best.

The 2010 Olympic Games began Feb. 12 in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada. The Games will broadcast on NBC networks until Feb. 28. Check local listings for times and channels of events. More information about the U.S. team and medal standings can be found at or