The 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia, are rapidly approaching, with a number of final team-trial events set to take place for Team USA across a variety of sports.
Obviously, the final goal is to reach the 2014 Winter Games in February at peak performance.
For those fans who cannot get enough of skiing and other such winter festivities, the U.S. Olympic Trials will act as a quality preview to the big events scheduled for early next year.
Here is a list of the remaining events and viewing info, followed by a focus on a few worth the time investment.
|Friday, Dec. 27||Speedskating||Men’s 5000m/Women’s 3000m||NBCSN||8 p.m.|
|Saturday, Dec. 28||Speedskating||Men’s/Women’s 500m||NBC||3 p.m.|
|Saturday, Dec. 28||Women’s Hockey||U.S. vs. Canada||NBCSN||4 p.m.|
|Sunday, Dec. 29||Ski Jumping/Nordic Combined||Men’s/Women’s Trials||NBC||1:30 p.m.|
|Sunday, Dec. 29||Speedskating||Men’s/Women’s 1000m||NBC||3 p.m.|
|Tuesday, Dec. 31||Speedskating||Men’s/Women’s 1500m||NBCSN||6 p.m.|
|Wednesday, Jan. 1||Speedskating||Men’s 10000m/Women’s 5000m||NBCSN||5 p.m.|
|Friday, Jan. 3||Short Track||Men’s/Women’s 1500m||NBCSN||8 p.m.|
|Saturday, Jan. 4||Short Track||Men’s/Women’s 500m||NBCSN||4 p.m.|
|Sunday, Jan. 5||Short Track||Men’s/Women’s 1000m||NBC||4 p.m.|
NBC Sports. Times subject to change.
Nordic Combined, Ski Jumping
Sunday, Dec. 29 is perhaps the most noteworthy day of all for fans looking to see Team USA at its best while paired with high-interest storylines.
It does not get much better than the Ski Jumping and Nordic Combined trials.
Team USA faces an uphill battle against foes such as Norway and Finland, who are more familiar with the sport. But that does not mean Team USA lacks success in the event—the U.S. Nordic Combined Ski Team won its first medals in the sport at the Vancouver 2010 Olympic Winter Games.
Johnny Spillane, who became the first athlete to take an Olympic medal in the event with his silver, retired earlier this year. This leaves the team leadership role up to Billy Demong, who took the first Gold medal in the event for the team shortly after Spillane's silver.
Veteran leadership is the name of the game, but the Fletcher brothers, Bryan and Taylor, are names to watch as well in what should round out a group of athletes that will arguably be the country's strongest come February.
Short Track Speedskating
For those fans looking for star power, look no further than two-time Olympic bronze medalist J.R. Celski, who is expected to lead Team USA.
Celski is quite the story. Expectations were through the roof for the then 19-year-old skater going into the 2010 Olympic Games, but he fell in the U.S. trials and gashed his leg open with his own skate.
The wound required more than 60 stitches, and Celski settled for his two bronze medals in the 1,500 metres and the relay after a short recovery.
Celski has the torch now and is a face fans better get accustomed to seeing. As Brandon Swibel of The Legacy Agency told Darren Heitner of Forbes, brands can rally behind Celski's inspiring story, which is just budding:
The brands all do their homework and go through the same process — looking for athletes that have the complete package; elite in their sport (realistic chance to win a medal); and well-rounded (well-spoken, comfortable in front of camera)
All in all, Celski may be the next big thing and worth watching in trials—get on before the bandwagon fills up.