Winter Olympics Speedskating 2014: Top Americans to Watch in Sochi

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Winter Olympics Speedskating 2014: Top Americans to Watch in Sochi
Patrick Semansky/Associated Press

The United States team is hoping to medal in as many events as possible at the Sochi Olympics, and speedskating gives the team a chance to grab some golds.

With talent and experience at the international level, there are a number of top contenders in various events in the long-track competition. If everyone lives up to their potential, the Americans could come away with multiple gold medals in Russia.

While speedskating features a lot of different competitions and athletes, these are the ones you need to watch when they step on the ice.

 

Shani Davis

Hong Wu/Getty Images

Davis is the star attraction as one of the most successful Americans entering the 2014 Olympics. He won two gold medals in the 1,000-meter event in 2006 and 2010 and will look for a third this time around.

Additionally, he wants to improve upon his result in the 1,500-meter event, as he was only managed a silver in two tries.

The difference in 2014 is that Davis has become a star back home. He discussed his newfound popularity with Nancy Armour of USA Today:

It's not like I ever didn't want to be the face of the Olympics. There were other athletes who had a higher profile. 

I was a goodie in a vending machine behind eight other awesome snacks. Now people are enjoying me for who I am.

With people around the world now cheering him on, David will hope to win multiple golds in Sochi.

 

Brian Hansen

Matt Dunham/Associated Press

Although Shani Davis is the favorite in both the 1,000-meter and 1,500-meter events, Brian Hansen will not be too far behind.

The 23-year-old athlete was part of the U.S. team's pursuit in 2010, winning a silver medal in the process. This should give him confidence to go out and compete in the individual competitions at a high level.

He certainly has been training hard for a medal:

It will be difficult to top Davis in either event, but Hansen has the speed to at least get onto the medal stand alongside his veteran teammate. The United States coaches would be thrilled to see a one-two finish in Sochi.

 

Heather Richardson 

Atsushi Tomura/Getty Images

Unlike other competitors, Heather Richardson is not a big fan of limiting herself to one competition. The long-track athlete will battle at the 500-meter, 1,000-meter and 1,500-meter events and has a chance to medal in each.

Former U.S. star Dan Jansen discussed Richardson's hype coming into the games, via Jeff Mills of the News & Record: "There’s a reason: She’s really good. I don’t know how to handicap Heather’s chances. I mean, what’s the best odds there are? She’s one of the top three skaters in the world at three different distances. So if everything just goes normal, she’ll win three Olympic medals."

She has been dominant at the World Cup, winning 26 medals in her career in the 500-meter and 1,000-meter events alone. She has eight career gold medals in the 1,000-meter event and should be able to come through with an Olympic medal this year as long as she lives up to expectations.

Based on what we have seen so far, there is little reason to doubt her this time around. 

 

Follow Rob Goldberg on Twitter for the latest breaking news and analysis.

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