When the 2014 Winter Olympics begin on Friday, Feb. 7 in Sochi, Russia, the focus will instantly shift to Team USA figure skating and which stars will steal the show.
With the tandem of Marissa Castelli and Simon Shnapir, women’s star Gracie Gold, and men’s sensation Jeremy Abbott leading the charge for the United States, this should be a great year for Team USA figure skating.
Here are the stars who will shine brightest in Sochi.
Marissa Castelli and Simon Shnapir
Despite this being each skater's first Winter Games, the duo of Marissa Castelli and Simon Shnapir is one of the most highly touted pairs in the 2014 Winter Olympics.
The tandem won the gold medal at the 2014 U.S. Figure Skating Championships—marking back-to-back national titles for Castelli and Shnapir—and have proved to be one of the most consistent teams in the event.
Shnapir was born in Russia. He has the advantage of knowing the language and the kind of crowd the duo will contend with, and Team USA’s best chance of winning gold in pairs will come on the skates of Castelli and Shnapir.
Predicted Medal Finish: Gold in Pairs Classification.
Few women in the Olympics have as much talent as 2014 U.S. Figure Skating Championships winner Gracie Gold.
After finishing in second place in the same event last year, Gold has worked hard to improve her skills. Her hard work will pay off in the form of a gold medal in Sochi.
The Illinois native made a last-second coaching switch and moved to California to focus on the Winter Olympics. As seen from her success in the U.S. championships, the educated risk has already started to pay off.
Predicted Medal Finish: Gold in Women’s Classification.
U.S. figure skating star Jeremy Abbott has made his second consecutive Winter Olympics event, and he will be the best chance the men’s team has of achieving gold against a stacked competition.
Just as Gold won first place in the 2014 U.S. Figure Skating Championships for the women, Abbott pulled out a huge victory and secured his spot as one of the greatest skaters of all time with his four national titles.
Abbott failed to make his mark at the 2010 Winter Games, finishing 15th in the short program and ninth overall, but four years of training and maturity that is unparalleled will make him a gold-medal contender.
Predicted Medal Finish: Silver in Men’s Classification.
*All stats and information via TeamUSA.org.