The 15: U.S. Athletes To Watch in the 2010 Olympics
The action in the 2010 Olympics tips off Feb. 12 and there are plenty of Americans who promise to be in the medal hunt in Vancouver. Here are 15 U.S. athletes to watch (and cheer your patriotic sports heart out for). Go, red, white and blue!
1. Lindsey Vonn -- Alpine Skiing
Arguably one of the most talented women to hit the slopes, Vonn is the only American to have won two World Cup overall titles. The question is: Can she bounce back from a tough crash at last month's World Championships in Austria and capture the Olympic medal that has eluded her so far?
2. Shaun White -- Snowboard Halfpipe
Who doesn't love bright white snow contrasted with flaming red locks? But this reigning gold medalist is more than just the "Flying Tomato," he is still the world's best on the halfpipe.
3. Lindsey Jacobellis -- Snowboard Cross
Hopefully Jacobellis learned her lesson after blowing a huge lead in Torino in 2006, when she decided to play crowd-pleaser with some unnecessary hot-dogging that cost her the gold. If she tones down the sizzle, she might be able to walk away with some nice hardware in Vancouver.
4. Apolo Anton Ohno -- Short-Track Speed Skating
Ohno will feel right at home in Vancouver, having trained and competed in British Columbia. The five-time Olympic medalist is already ahead of the game as he looks to pass Bonnie Blair's record (seven) for most medals by an American in the Winter Games. Let's just hope there's room in the trophy case next to his 2007 "Dancing With the Stars" disco ball.
5. Sasha Cohen -- Figure Skating
Cohen is brushing the rust off her skates after nearly four years without a skating championship and withdrawing from both Grand Prix events in December due to tendinitis in her right calf. She has been dubbed the "wild card" by several members of the media, indicating her performance could either be a major comeback or a major flop.
6. Evan Lysacek -- Figure Skating
Lysacek has hit the ice with a bang after becoming the first American in 13 years to win the men's title at the World Figure Skating Championship and the Grand Prix in Tokyo. He placed fourth in Torino in 2006 and is looking to make it to the podium in 2010.
7. Mark Grimmette & Brian Martin -- Luge
It may be two names, but Grimmette and Martin are a freakish two-headed monster on the luge. After capturing bronze in the '98 Games and silver in 2002, the two oldest members of the U.S. team flopped at gold in '06 but these luge legends will try again in February.
8. Tanith Belbin & Ben Agosto -- Figure Skating
Another duo to watch, Belbin and Agosto made history in 2006, earning the United States' first Olympic medal in ice dancing since 1976. They are favored to return to the podium in Vancouver -- especially after taking silver in the 2009 World Championships.
9. Shani Davis -- Speed Skating
Davis showed his U.S. teammates he could go it alone in 2006, and this year he'll attempt to show the world (and former teammate Chad Hedrick) he still has the goods by competing in all five individual distances in Vancouver -- something not attempted by an American in 30 years.
10. Bode Miller -- Alpine Skiing
Miller was flying a pretty successful ride before his wild ways and disagreements with the U.S. ski team caused his resignation (and subsequent retirement) from the sport. (You may remember when Miller was quoted as saying, "If you ever tried to ski when you're wasted, it's not easy.") The now-32-year-old is back and ready to make a comeback. Here's hoping the Miller we see in Vancouver is the one who captured two overall World Cup titles, not the one who has captured media attention for his frat boy ways.
11. Hannah Teter -- Snowboarding Halfpipe
The 2006 Olympic gold medalist wasn't a shoo-in after missing the first Grand Prix event with a shoulder injury, but she rebounded nicely at the second event with a runner-up finish to Kelly Clark. Can Teter make it back to the podium in Vancouver? There's only one way to find out.
12. Katie Uhlaender -- Skeleton
Though several members of the skeleton team have won World Cup championships, none has climbed the Olympic podium. Uhlaender, considered a vast talent in the unique event, will be fighting for that designation as she speeds down that icy track. (And for those who pay attention to such things, she may also be one of the hottest female athletes in the 2010 Games.)
13. Gretchen Bleiler -- Snowboard Halfpipe
Bleiler took silver in the 2006 Olympics, but after a head-rattling fall in the WX13 games, her concussive symptoms made her stop and take a second look at her career. She has since returned to competition and upped her preparation, leading to a second-place finish in Grand Prix.
14. John Shuster -- Curling
This Minnesota state high school champion comes from a family of curlers and is looking to help his teammates reach the gold that eluded them in '06. Shuster helped Team USA claim bronze in Torino and has also helped the team move up the ranks of the World Championships since 2003. (As if you needed more reasons to watch curling…)
15. Jay Hakkinen -- Biathlon
Nothing beats the combination of skiing and guns! Making his fourth Olympic appearance, Hakkinen may be best remembered for his meltdown in the 10km sprint in Torino. He was a medal hopeful, but missed all five targets in the prone shoot and tossed his rifle to the ground like an angry John Daly at the Masters. Here's hoping he can keep it together and hit the mark this time.
Issue 145: January 2010