By Colleen Murphy
Team USA has some pretty awesome athletes representing us at the Sochi Olympics, and here are just some of the Olympians you should follow leading up to the Games next week:
J.R. Celski, Short Track Speedskating: At 23, Celski took over for Apolo Ohno, and is now the new face of U.S. speedskating. He already has two bronze medals to his name from the Vancouver Olympics. But before worrying about the Olympics, the Seattle native has to worry about how well his Seahawks will do in the Super Bowl.
Meryl Davis and Charlie White, Ice Dancing: Two-time world champions and five-time national champions got silver at the last Olympics and are now favorites to win gold. The team has been together since 1997 — longer than any other American ice dancing team.
Gracie Gold, Figure Skating: What’s in a name? How about a gold medal for Gold. The 18-year-old national champion is expected to win big at the Games. Her biggest competition might even be her own teammates, 15-year-old Polina Edmunds and 22-year-old Ashley Wagner.
Sarah Hendrickson, Lindsey Van and Jessica Jerome, Ski Jumping: These three women are part of history, as women’s ski jumping makes its Olympic debut, and Van is a big part of making that happen after fighting for its inclusion. At only 19, Hendrickson is the reigning world champion, so it looks like the U.S. might take the first gold the event has to offer.
Shaun White, Snowboarding: White, formerly known as the Flying Tomato, has been a fan favorite for years. He is back to defend his two-time gold medal win in the halfpipe and is also competing in slopestyle, a new Olympic event.
Nick Goepper, Freestyle Skiing: This 19-year-old was the first American to qualify for the 2014 Games and is a frontrunner for gold at the Olympics. When beginning the sport, Goepper purchased all the equipment himself through selling candy and completing odd jobs. All these years later, it seems like it paid off.
Lolo Jones, Bobsledding: No, this isn’t a mistake. The track’s star hurdler is now the brakeman for the bobsledding team. After a disappointing show at the Summer Olympics, Jones hopes to medal in a different sport. However, the decision to put her on the team is controversial, with many people saying her fame was what earned her the spot. Let’s see if she can prove them wrong.
Jamaican Bobsled Team: “Cool Runnings” Part 2? Now, they might not be American, but it is definitely a true underdog story that you want to keep your eye on. The two-man team had financial troubles getting to the Games, but with the help of thousands of dollars in donations, the island nation has its first bobsledding team since 2002. Jamaica, we have a bobsled team!
Seems like this is going to be an exciting Olympics for America (and Jamaica).
This is the second part of “Faster, Higher, Stronger,” a weekly column on the 2014 Winter Olympic Games.