US Olympic Figure Skating Team 2014: Predicting Medals for Top Stars

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US Olympic Figure Skating Team 2014: Predicting Medals for Top Stars
Greg M. Cooper-USA TODAY Sports

For the United States to medal in figure skating at the Sochi Games, it will likely require a team effort.

While the United States has plenty of contenders in the various events, the most likely to medal is the ice dancing team of Meryl Davis and Charlie White, who took silver at the 2010 Vancouver Games. They are six-time U.S. champions and two-time world champions, and they come into the Games as the favorites over Canadian pair Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir, though the competition will be fierce.

For the pair, this competition has been nearly 20 years in the making, as they started ice dancing together as kids when Davis was nine and White eight years old. Of course, it was a bit more awkward in the early days, as the pair told Pritha Sarkar of Reuters:

"I definitely remember feeling awkward looking into Charlie's eyes, and having to hold hands with a boy at that age was a little awkward," Davis told Reuters in an interview as her partner started laughing.

"We were so young, and I in particular was really shy when we were that age. We didn't have witty banter going back and forth at the ages of eight and nine. It took us a couple of years before we developed a personal relationship."

White added: "Honestly, we really had no idea what we were getting ourselves into when we first started ice dancing. We both were single skaters and loved the sport.

"I had been doing solo dance for a little while just to work on my technique. So I was a little bit ahead of Meryl when we first tried out and I remember being kind of annoyed that I had to take a step back to try out with her."

How very far they've come.

They are, without question, the United States' best hope for a gold in these Games. Marissa Castelli and Simon Shnapir are a solid pairs team, but they aren't expected to medal and would surely be thrilled with a bronze.

Meanwhile, the United States got off to a poor start in the team competition and (didn't even make the cut for Sunday) seem highly unlikely to medal, even after salvaging their chance at a medal on Saturday.

In the individual competition, the United States has contenders but no real favorites to medal. For the men, Jeremy Abbott finished ninth in Vancouver and, let's call a spade a spade, choked in the team competition for the United States.

Given his history of coming up short on the big stage, it's hard to see him reaching the podium in Sochi. We'll all be rooting him on, however.

Meanwhile, 19-year-old Jason Brown is a dynamic personality who is sure to win over the Sochi crowd with a boisterous routine and his big jumps. But from a technical standpoint, he's an extreme long shot to medal, as he doesn't incorporate a quad into his routine.

Still, he'll be fun to watch. With Canada's Patrick, Japan's Yuzuru Hanyu and Russia's Evgeni Plushenko all serious medal threats, it's hard to imagine either of the U.S. men taking home any hardware.

For the women, the competition will be just as fierce, with defending gold medalist Yuna Kim of South Korea as the favorite. Russia's Julia Lipnitskaia and Japan's Mao Asada are also serious contenders. So what of the U.S. women?

Gracie Gold is the skater to watch, and outside of Davis and White, she is probably the best hope for the Americans to reach the podium. She certainly has the right name to get the job done. The 18-year-old certainly has the ability to do big things—how she absorbs the pressure of the games will be the real test.

Ashley Wagner is the next best hope for the women, and she has the tools to pull off a major surprise and medal. But it's important to note that it would be a pretty big surprise.

Finally, there is 15-year-old Polina Edmunds, who rounds out the U.S. women. If she cracks the top 10, it will be a major achievement. Her best years are yet to come.

 

Predictions

Gold: Davis and White in ice dancing.

Silver: None.

Bronze: Gold in the women's competition.

 

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