Is Team USA the New USSR of the Winter Olympics?

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Is Team USA the New USSR of the Winter Olympics?

Judging by the rapid pace that Team USA has accumulated medals at the 2010 Winter Olympic Games, one can sense a changing of the guard in terms of an era of hegemony.

Ample resources and historical world events have elevated the United States to don the crown as the new Evil Empire of the Winter Games.

Almost through Day 14, Team USA leads the world with 31 medals, as Germany trails in second place with 26.

What about Russia, you ask? Its 13 medals—three gold—currently place them behind underachieving Canada in fifth place.

Blame the fall of the USSR that forced Soviet talent to be divided into 15 different countries. Blame the advent of the Euro, which hasn’t helped Germany’s economy. Blame the IOC for adding a slew of events that, in some purists’ eyes, is turning the Winter Olympics into Winter X-Games 2.0.

Or, you can simply hate the U.S.A. for being the richest country in the world and keeping its athletics coffers flush in a time when we're mired in a global economic crisis.

However you choose to interpret history, what has resulted is that the United States, a country in which half the nation’s terrain almost never even sees snow or natural ice, has become the new Winter Olympics big shot that other countries envy, respect, and despise.

Team USA has had its share of underachievers in Winter Olympics past, but many are singing songs of redemption and/or achievement in Vancouver in 2010. Let’s take a look at some notable, as well as some unlikely, American stars who have already graced the podium thus far.

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