The 2014 Winter Olympics from Sochi, Russia have come up fast—having begun on Thursday, Feb. 6—and the excitement surrounding the biggest stars yet to compete in the Games continues to grow with each passing day.
With bona fide mainstream stars like Alexander Ovechkin, Shaun White and Shani Davis all looking to dominate in the 2014 Games, sports fans from all walks of life will be entertained by the Sochi festivities.
All of the following Olympic athletes will shine the brightest.
Alexander Ovechkin, Hockey
As the host nation, there is incredible pressure on Team Russia to thrive in the Winter Olympics, and the biggest event of the Games will be the hockey tournament featuring many of the NHL’s best players.
That includes star forward Alexander Ovechkin.
The Russian offensive juggernaut will be the leader of his country’s Olympic team and will be handed the responsibility of bringing home a gold medal. With powerhouses like Sweden and Canada looking to trump the home-ice advantage, Ovechkin must take games over.
After entering the Olympic break with the most goals in the NHL, it is abundantly clear that Ovechkin is the most talented goal scorer in the Winter Games and should be able to lead Russia to a deserved gold-medal victory.
Predicted Result: gold medal
Shaun White, Snowboarding
There is no star in action sports as recognizable as American snowboarder Shaun White, and after skipping the Winter X Games, the Olympic legend is looking to add even more gold to his collection in Sochi.
White will be going for gold in the halfpipe.
After winning gold in 2006 and 2010, White will look to add another chapter to his legacy.
Predicted result: gold medal
Shani Davis, Speedskating
After the retirement of Apolo Ohno, Team USA speedskater Shani Davis has taken the role as the biggest star of the sport. With that much fame has come great responsibility, and the expectations for Davis are astronomical.
Davis was the first African-American to ever win an individual event at the Winter Olympics, and with this possibly being the last Games of his storied career, he will look to make history once again by defending the 1,000-meter title.
If Davis wins, this will be three straight gold medals (previously won in 2006 and 2010). He told Wayne Drehs of ESPN.com about his approach to the 2014 Games:
I just take the most simple approach as possible. Getting myself all psyched out for all the bells and whistles and accolades doesn't help. It's just a title at the end of the day. If I stick to the principles that got me into this sport to begin with -- and that's my love of skating fast -- if I do that to the best of my abilities against everyone else there, I'll be satisfied. In the past, that's been good enough to do some great things. I'm just trying to see if it's in my body to do it again.
Davis will face stiff competition in the 1,500-meter race (two previous silver medals), but he is the unquestioned favorite in his marquee event (1,000 meters).
With this possibly being his last chance at Olympic glory, fans should expect Davis to leave everything he has on the ice in Sochi.
Predicted results: gold medal in 1,000 meters and silver medal in 1,500 meters