Sochi Winter Olympics 2014: Will the US Finish Atop the Gold-Medal Standings?

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Sochi Winter Olympics 2014: Will the US Finish Atop the Gold-Medal Standings?
Alexander Hassenstein/Getty Images
Mikaela Shiffrin won the most recent gold medal for the U.S.

Only two days of competition remain in the 2014 Winter Olympics, and the race to the top of the gold-medal standings is closer than ever. 

The latest medal count has Norway still atop the standings with 10 gold medals, but Russia, Canada and the United States are not far behind with nine. Germany and its eight golds is in fifth place, while Switzerland and the Netherlands follow with six.

Ten events are left in the final two days of these Games. The U.S. looks to have a decent chance to finish with the most medals overall as they currently are in the lead with 27. When it's all said and done though, the country with the most gold medals will be the "true winner" of these Olympics.

So how do the U.S.' chances look?

To be frank, it doesn't look good for Team USA. Most of the remaining events have never really been the strong suits of the U.S., and according to Odds Shark, no American is the favorite to win his or her event.

Remaining Events
Event Favorite
Cross-Country: Women's 30 km Mass Start Free Marit Bjoergen (Norway)
Snowboard: Women's Parallel Slalom Patrizia Kummer (Switzerland)
Snowboard: Men's Parallel Slalom Rok Marguc (Switzerland)
Speed Skating: Men's Team Pursuit Netherlands
Speed Skating: Women's Team Pursuit Netherlands
Biathlon: Men's Relay 4x7.5 km Norway
Alpine Skiing: Men's Slalom Marcel Hirscher (Austria)
Cross-Country: Men's 50 km Mass Start Free Dario Cologna (Switzerland)
Bobsled: Men's Four-Man Alexsandr Zubkov (Russia)
Ice Hockey: Men's Final Canada

http://www.oddschecker.com/

Making matters worse is the fact that the U.S. has already been eliminated from gold-medal contention in three events. After losing to Canada in the semifinals of the men's hockey tournament, the Americans will be playing for bronze against Finland. Furthermore, both the men and women of U.S. speedskating turned in performances that weren't good enough for them to qualify for the team pursuit finals. 

The Netherlands is likely to win both gold medals in the team pursuit events, further cementing their speedskating dominance. However, with only six total golds as of now, the Dutch don't pose a threat to top the gold-medal count. 

Canada, on the other hand, is the favorite to win the men's hockey final against Sweden, and a win would tie them with Norway at the top of the gold-medal standings.

Alex Livesey/Getty Images
Steven Holcomb and the men's bobsled team may be the last chance the U.S. has at a gold medal.

The U.S.' best chance at another gold would be in the men's four-man bobsled event. In the 2013-14 Bobsled World Cup, the Americans, led by Steven Holcomb, won four of eight events, but are currently ranked second behind Maximilian Arndt and the German team.

One of the only other events in which the U.S. has a chance of winning is the men's slalom in alpine skiing. According to the FIS rankings, the highest-ranked American in the event is David Chodounsky (16th). Perhaps Ted Ligety can bring home another gold for the U.S. after winning the giant slalom. It seems unlikely, though, as the slalom event isn't his strong suit. Ligety is 31st in the slalom rankings.

The debut of the men's and women's parallel slalom in snowboarding doesn't look promising for Team USA, either. 

Pascal Le Segretain/Getty Images
Vic Wild, the American-turned-Russian snowboarder.

Slovenia's Rok Marguc is the heavy favorite to win the men's event, according to Oddschecker.com. American-turned-Russian Vic Wild, who's already won gold for Russia in the parallel giant slalom race, is another top contender for the gold medal.

On the women's side, none of the snowboarders in the event represent the U.S. Switzerland's Patrizia Kummer is the most likely to take home the gold.

Team USA doesn't stand much of a chance in any of the other events, so don't expect gold medals, or any medals for that matter, for the U.S. in the remaining biathlon and cross-country skiing events. 

There's a good chance that Norway will win at least another medal in the biathlon relay or cross-country skiing, which makes them my pick to finish atop the gold-medal standings.

As for the U.S., I predict that the nine gold medals it has now will be what the Americans go home with. I think we end up seeing Norway, Russia and Canada ahead of the Americans, leaving Team USA in fourth in the gold-medal count.

If the U.S. does finish these Olympics with the most gold medals, it'll be just the second time it's done so in the Winter Olympics. The only other time was at the 1932 Lake Placid Games, where the U.S. won six of 14 gold medals.

It's certainly possible that the U.S. ends up accomplishing that feat once again. It is the Winter Olympics we're talking about, and upsets are what make the Games so unpredictable and exciting.

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