2014 Olympics: Stars Who Will Cement Legacy in Sochi

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2014 Olympics: Stars Who Will Cement Legacy in Sochi
Harry How/Getty Images

The 2014 Winter Olympics may lack a truly dynamic performer and personality like Usain Bolt, but there are still plenty of stars at the Sochi Games to follow.

And more importantly, there are plenty of legacies to be made on the world stage.

So which stars will solidify their legacy? Who will go from being a national superstar to an international legend? Which athletes have the ability to capture the wonder of the world?

Let's find out.

Shaun White, United States, Snowboard

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Shaun White is the face of the United States Olympic team, and for good reason. He's won gold in the halfpipe in the last two Olympic Games and will not only be looking to add a third in Sochi, but he'll also try his hand at slopestyle.

White is also the face of "extreme sports" at this point in his career, having won 23 X Games medals, with 15 golds. At Sochi, he has the chance to forever cement his legacy with two more gold medals. Don't be surprised when he does just that.

Yevgeny Plushenko, Russia, Figure Skating

Plushenko has been a regular fixture on the medal stand at the Olympics over the years, with a gold in figure skating in 2006 at Turin and silvers in 2002 and 2010. A medal in these games would solidify his status as arguably the finest figure skater of his generation, while a gold would guarantee it.

But as former Olympian Johnny Weir told Pritha Sarkar of Reuters (via EuroNews), that will be no easy task:

I’m a huge cheerleader for Yevgeny Plushenko. He’s been an incredible asset to our sport, he’s really revolutionised the sport throughout his years in competitive skating.

Not to say he isn’t great, but the level of these young skaters from Canada and Japan … the calibre is so high. While it is possible to teach an old dog new tricks, it’s difficult.

You wouldn’t want to compete in the men’s singles competition after having won a medal in the last three consecutive Olympics and not (finish) on the podium in your last Olympics.

Given his history in the sport, it would be unwise to bet against Plushenko.

Shani Davis, United States, Speedskating

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Wayne Drehs of ESPN succinctly summed up what's at stake for Davis in these games:

Eight years ago in Torino, he was the first African-American to win winter gold in an individual event. Four years later in Vancouver, he was the first to win back-to-back golds in the 1,000 meters. Now, heading into Sochi for what likely will be the 31-year-old's final Olympic Games, Davis has a chance to become the first man to win three straight Olympic golds in any winter event.

Davis' legacy within his sport is already secure. But with another gold, he would become an Olympics legend in a way that transcended any individual event. Don't be surprised when he does just that.

Yuna Kim, South Korea, Figure Skating

Kim will be trying to defend her figure skating gold from four years ago, which would make her the first woman to do so since Katarina Witt in 1984 and 1988 and just the third woman to pull off the feat in Olympic history.

Any medal will mark her place as one of the finest skaters of her generation. But a second gold will make her a legend.

Julia Mancuso, United States, Alpine Skiing

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With Lindsey Vonn forced to miss these Olympics due to injury, it's up to Julia Mancuso to pick up the torch for the United States women's skiing team. 

Mancuso has won gold and two silvers in her Olympic career and has a knack for saving her best for the biggest races. With three events in Sochi, it's hard to imagine Mancuso failing to medal and solidify her place as one of the finest skiers in American history, men or women.

Martina Sablikova, Czech Republic, Speedskating

Martina Sablikova absolutely dominated in 2010, winning gold in the 3,000-meter and 5,000-meter speedskating races, while also taking bronze in the 1,500-meter. That made her one of Vancouver's most prominent performers—and a national legend. The Czech Republic had previously never captured more than one gold at a Winter Games—but if she replicates the feat, she'll go down in speedskating history.

Can she live up to her "Queen of Skating" nickname? At just 26 years of age and in her prime, there's no reason she can't duplicate her Vancouver feat.

Bode Miller, United States, Alpine Skiing

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Speaking of skiers, we can't overlook Bode Miller. While his legacy in United States Olympics history is secure—he has five medals and will be competing in his fifth Olympics—he could become an all-time legend with another strong performance in Sochi.

And while he's no longer considered the strongest American skier around—Ted Ligety and Mikaela Shiffrin hold that distinction—or of the quality of Aksel Lund Svindal of Norway and Hannes Reichelt of Austria, downhill and super-G stars, it's important to remember that he won three medals four years ago.

Don't be shocked if Miller wins a medal and forever marks his place among the skiing legends in the process.

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