The price of great talent is lofty expectations, and many of America’s top Olympians will be competing under the significant weight of medal pressure in Sochi this month.
Some, such as speedskater Shani Davis and Alpine skier Ted Ligety, are headed to Russia seeking to add to past Olympic glory. Others, like figure skater Gracie Gold and skier Mikaela Shiffrin, are looking to make a name for themselves on the international stage.
Whatever their pedigree, the top U.S. Olympians are facing the best in the world under intense pressure, and with little room for error.
Some will undoubtedly thrive in the moment and claim the triumphs fans predict for them. Others, however, will falter under the bright Olympic spotlight and see great expectations disappear in the agony of falling short when the stakes are highest.
No one wearing red, white and blue roots for that to happen, and few people, regardless of nationality, relish the moment when it does. Yet disappointment comes with the Olympic territory. There will be numerous Americans who fall victim to unexpectedly poor performances of their own or great achievements by competitors that simply exceed their efforts.
Here are the top American medal threats that could ultimately disappoint in the 2014 Sochi Winter Games.