US Olympic Figure Skating 2014: Top Medal Contenders for Team USA

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US Olympic Figure Skating 2014: Top Medal Contenders for Team USA
Richard Mackson-USA TODAY Sports

The U.S. Olympic figure skating team is looking to add to its medal collection after winning the bronze in the team competition to open up the 2014 Winter Games. 

To that end, there are a few competitors with a shot at earning a podium finish, provided they put forth their very best effort and receive some help along the way. 

Pairs duo Marissa Castelli and Simon Shnapir were thought to have a shot at a medal, but they got off to a rough start in the short program on Tuesday. They will enter the free program as the top American duo, in ninth place and well behind the leaders.

Here's a look at remaining Team USA figure skaters who are capable of bringing home a medal in the 2014 Winter Games.

 

Gracie Gold

With a name like Gracie Gold, America's 2014 Olympic sweetheart carried high expectations into these Games. 

The former U.S. junior champion finished in sixth place at the 2013 World Championships, and she's starting to come into her own as one of the world's elite skaters. Gold posted a personal best to help Team USA win bronze in the team competition, as pointed out by NBC7 in San Diego:

She attributes her success to her "grit and competitive attitude," as relayed by Shape Magazine:

Gold will need to keep her focus razor sharp in the upcoming competition. South Korea's Yuna Kim, Russia's Julia Lipnitskaia and Japan's Mao Asada are favored to finish in the top three, with Kim looking for a repeat gold after winning in 2010. http://bleacherreport.com/editor_cms/edit#

However, Gold surely has the talent to make a surprise podium appearance...or better.

 

Jason Brown

Whereas Gold has a legitimate shot at winning a medal, the American men aren't nearly as competitive. Canada's Patrick Chan is favored to win, with Japan's Yuzuru Hanyu, Kazakhstan's Denis Ten and Russia's Evgeni Plushenko considered as his top challengers. 

However, if any U.S. man has a chance to earn a medal, then it'll be Jason Brown. 

The 19-year-old skater's biggest flaw is that he doesn't attempt a quad in his routine, which means his ceiling is lower than that of other top skaters who do include the dangerous jump. 

Bernat Armangue/Associated Press

However, Brown does bring other qualities to the table, as noted by Alice Cook of She's Game Sports, via Boston.com's Matt Pepin: "His spins are the best I have seen any male skater perform. His footwork (steps) in his River Dance free skate were so full of energy, they put an entire building on its feet."

If Brown can put together a couple of flawless routines and some of the top skaters end up taking a fall, then he could potentially sneak into a podium finish. 

 

Meryl Davis and Charlie White

America's best chance for Olympic gold in figure skating comes in the ice dancing competition, where Meryl Davis and Charlie White have been international stars for well over a decade.

After Davis and White's impressive performance in the team competition, Canada's Scott Muir—partner to Tessa Virtue and long-time rival of the Americans—expressed frustration at how much better his competitors were.

"We got smoked today," Moir said, via Alissa De Carbonnel of Reuters.com. "Not even close...It was a good skate, but the levels weren't where they needed to be."

After a silver-medal performance in Vancouver four years ago, this American duo appears poised to raise the bar with a gold in Sochi

 

Follow me on Twitter @JesseReed78 

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