US Olympic Speedskating 2014: Ranking Top Medal Contenders on Team USA

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US Olympic Speedskating 2014: Ranking Top Medal Contenders on Team USA
Associated Press

Age doesn't discriminate on the stacked U.S. speedskating squad.

Team USA speedskating legend Apolo Ohno is no longer on the team. The question isn't if an athlete wearing red, white and blue will step up to fill his skates, but who, due to the fact that the Americans have plenty of youthful and veteran talent in the sport.

Here are the top three U.S. speedskating medal contenders in the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi.

 

3. Heather Richardson, Long Track

Koji Sasahara/Associated Press

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Richardson's Olympic history isn't as impressive as the other skaters on this list. Of course, she entered the 2010 Winter Olympics at only 20 years old. Despite her inexperience, she still managed to finish sixth in the 500-meter race, ninth in the 1,000 meters and 16th in the 1,500 meters.

The now 24-year-old showed maturity as well as first-place potential when she earned gold in the 2013 World Sprint Speed Skating Championships. The Associated Press, Chicago Tribune and Canadian Broadcasting Corporation have pegged Richardson as a favorite to gold in Sochiaccording to Jeff Mills of News & Record. The hype is well-deserved, considering that she finished first in the U.S. speedskating trials in the 500, 1,000 and 1,500-meter competitions.

 

2. J.R. Celski, Short Track

Rick Bowmer/Associated Press/Associated Press

A deep, skate-to-the-thigh gash just months before the 2010 Winter Olympics failed to stop Celski from winning two bronze medals there. The 19-year-old's success in Vancouver foreshadowed a bright future.

The AP's Beth Harris reports that Celski will compete in the 500, 1,000, and 1,500-meter races in Sochi as well as the 5,000-meter relay (via the Columbus Dispatch). According to ESPNCelski only lost a single race during the U.S. trials. The 23-year-old is much younger than the next skater on this list, but he has emerged as a leader on Team USA and will remain just that for years to come, especially if he meets his Sochi medal expectations.

 

1. Shani Davis, Long Track

Rick Bowmer/Associated Press

Davis enters 2014 with a target on his back after winning gold in the 1,000-meter race in both the 2010 and 2006 Winter Olympics. He also won silver in the 1,500-meter competition in back-to-back Winter Olympics.

The 31-year-old Davis is the same age at the retired Ohno, but Davis still has plenty of speed left in him. He will again compete in the events that he won two straight Olympic medals in, winning the 1,000 and 1,500-meter races in the trials. If Davis earns yet another podium berth, he would be the first man to win three straight long-track Olympic gold medals, according to the Los Angeles TimesPhilip Hersh.

 

David Daniels is a breaking news writer at Bleacher Report and news editor at Wade-O Radio.

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