US Olympic Speedskating 2014: Skaters to Watch from Team USA

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US Olympic Speedskating 2014: Skaters to Watch from Team USA
Rick Bowmer/Associated Press

Team USA has a rich history in speedskating, and it is in a position to add to that legacy at the 2014 Sochi Games. 

Although that legacy will not be added to by short-track legend Apolo Anton Ohno. The eight-time Olympic medalist has moved onto the next phase of his life. His departure has not left the Americans void of talent on the short track, however, as you'll see below. 

As for the long-track skaters, Shani Davis is looking to extend his already historic resume, and he is part of a strong group of men and women skaters. 

 

When: Feb. 6 to Feb. 23

Where: Sochi, Russia

Watch: NBC has the coverage on their various networks. Here is a link to NBC’s broadcast schedule.

 

Shani Davis, Long Track 

Atsushi Tomura/Getty Images

Shani Davis' place in Olympic history is already carved. He is a veteran of three Olympics and in the 2006 and 2010 Olympics he picked up a silver and gold in each.

Will Davis three-peat in the 1000?

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The golds come from the 1000 meter and the silvers in the 1500 meter. 

He is already the first man to win back-to-back gold medals in the 1000, and he was the first black man to win a gold at the Winter Olympics

At 31, Davis won the trials for both events and is primed to pick up some more hardware.

Fellow speedskating legend Eric Heiden thinks this is the case. In an outstanding piece on Davis in ChicagoMag.com, Bryan Smith passed along this quote from Heiden:

It certainly seems to me that this year he appears to be on course to be on the podium again. That he’s been able to stay at the top for so long is amazing.

Heiden has good reason to make his claim. On top of his performance at the trials, Davis has taken gold in both the 1500 and 1000 in recent World Cup events.

He is 31 and has struggled with injuries in recent years, but I'm not going to bet against him from bringing home another gold.

 

Heather Richardson, Long Track

Matthew Stockman/Getty Images

Heather Richardson looks strong to capture her first Olympic medal. She was a member of the 2010 team, but didn't have a finish higher than sixth. 

At 24 years of age, however, she is just hitting her prime. 

She is back and better than ever. She took gold in the 2013 World Sprint Speed Skating Championships, and she has been flashing the kind of form that would leave people shocked if she didn't emerge with a medal. 

She is set to compete in the 500, 1,000 and 1,500 meters. Jeff Mills of the News and Record collected opinions on her medal chances. Here is what he found: 

The Associated Press predicts a gold medal and a bronze medal.

Sports Illustrated predicts a silver and a bronze. The Canadian Broadcasting Corp. and the Chicago Tribune predict gold medals.

Richardson will have to handle the pressure, but she certainly has the speed to help the U.S. add to its medal count. 

 

J.R. Celski, Short Track

Rick Bowmer/Associated Press

The short track is going to be a lot different this year without Ohno. He helped raise the profile of the sport and gave Americans a reason to tune into the event. 

J.R. Celski is ready to take the torch, however. He is just 23, but this is his second trip to the Olympics. He didn't just make the trip to Vancouver for the games, either, he picked up two bronze medals. 

By all appearances, he is ready to turn that bronze into gold. He is starting to come into his own.

Check him out practicing on the ice he hopes to dominate: 

There is a lot of room for short-track skaters to get a little bump or shove that knocks them out of the race. Despite this, according to ESPNCelski only lost a single race during the U.S. trials.

Celski's talent has been apparent, and he's been honing his skating skills in big events. He is ready to bust out at these games.  

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