Sochi 2014: Biggest Stars Sure to Shine for Team USA

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Sochi 2014: Biggest Stars Sure to Shine for Team USA
Doug Pensinger/Getty Images

The 2014 Winter Olympics are a time when the greatest athletes in the world compete on the biggest stage for their countries.

For Team USA, the expectations for greatness are always high.

But with several of America's biggest stars like Apolo Anton Ohno retired and Lindsey Vonn out due to injury, the haul for Team USA might be slightly less than normal.

With names like J.R. Celski and Shaun White along with emerging contenders like Gracie Gold and Jason Brown still competing on the world's biggest stage, there is still plenty of star power for Team USA.

Before the Winter Olympics officially begin in Sochi, here is information about the games and stars to watch for from Team USA.

 

Winter Olympics Information

What: 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia

Where: Fisht Olympic Stadium

Opening Ceremony: Feb. 7, 12:14 PM (ET)

Closing Ceremony: Feb. 23

TV: NBC; NBCSN; MSNBC; USA; CNBC

 

U.S. Stars Set to Shine

Shaun White, Snowboarding

Julie Jacobson/Associated Press

After dropping out of the X-Games and announcing that he won't participate in the slopestyle event in Sochi, according to Rachel Axon of USA Today, there has been more talk about the events that White won't participate in than his greatness as a snowboarder.

But when White is on his board, greatness is sure to follow.

The American made the decision to withdraw from the slopestyle event and will focus solely on competing in the halfpipe competition, according to Axon:

After much deliberation with my team, I have made the decision to focus solely on trying to bring home the third straight gold medal in halfpipe for Team USA. 

The difficult decision to forego slopestyle is not one I take lightly as I know how much effort everyone has put into holding the slopestyle event for the first time in Olympic history, a history I had planned on being a part.

While the response from other Olympians like Max Parrot of Canada was that White is "scared" of the competition, per Stephanie Myles of Yahoo! Sports, White is still a dominant force in the halfpipe event.

The two-time defending gold medalist is once again looking to win the event and hopes to become the first American to win three gold medals at three different Winter Olympics.

With extra rest on his side and time to perfect his performance, the Flying Tomato is still the favorite to bring home gold.

 

J.R. Celski, Speedskating

The story of Celski is a long but triumphant one nonetheless.

After suffering a devastating injury back in 2009, Celski was able to return for the 2010 Winter Olympics in Vancouver just months later and took home the bronze medal.

But four years later, Celski is looking to compete in both the 1,500-meter and 5,000-meter relay competition yet again, with hopes of bringing back a gold medal.

The 23-year-old made his intentions very clear in Sochi, according to the Associated Press:

My goal was just to get to Vancouver. I did that and the medals were just a bonus. This time, I'm going to Sochi healthy and I'm looking forward to doing some damage.

I am very happy to be in the position I am now. I looked up to that guy for a long time. This time is completely different for me mentally, physically, I'm healthy. I'm going to ride that momentum.

While the U.S. Speedskating team itself could very well struggle in Sochi, Celski is one of the more promising athletes competing for Team USA and is expected to come home with a medal at the very least.

The Americans hope it will be gold hanging around his neck.

 

Meryl Davis and Charlie White, Ice Dancing

The duo of Meryl Davis and Charlie White looks like the closest possibility for a sure thing for Team USA in figure skating.

But with that pressure on their shoulders, the ice dancing couple could falter under the bright lights.

After heading into the 2010 Winter Olympics with hopes of bringing back the gold medal in ice dancing, Davis and White fell just short of their goal as Canada's Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir claimed gold and the duo took home silver.

Will Davis and White win gold?

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With the pressure even greater for the 2014 Winter Olympics, White knows the pair won't be fazed, according to Quinn Klinefelter of NPR.org.

"We've had a career where we've really lived in the moment," White says. "It hasn't mattered in the past how big the moment is. You know, we always kind of have the same approach."

The duo dominated the 2014 U.S. Figure Skating Championships and are on top of the ice dancing world ahead of the Sochi Olympics.

After not making the mark in Vancouver, expect Davis and White to dominate in Sochi while they are skating their best heading in.

 

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