By Alejandro Freixes, CCNN Head Writer
The 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia will take place from February 6 to the 23, which is right around the corner! Team USA is sharpening their ice skates and stretching their legs for a chance to walk away with some country pride in the form of gold medals. While superstar skiier Lindsey Vonn won’t be able to make it due to a knee injury, there’s still plenty of talented athletes who will represent the US strongly.
A dozen special events will make their debut at the Sochi Games, like figure skating team competition, luge (a special sled) team relay, women’s ski jumping, women’s competitions in ski halfpipe, and a couple new snowboarding competitions that’ll give the US an opportunity to shine.
Shaun White, the snowboarder, is the biggest medal contender heading to the Olympics, and he might be looking for a three-peat chance for gold in the halfpipe. Nicknamed “The Flying Tomato” for his red hair, the legendary snowboarder just might crush the new slopestyle winter event.
As for the brand new women’s ski jumping, we’ll be keeping our eyes on Sarah Hendrickson, who finished first in the 2012 World Cup standings and second in 2013. The teen could really give Japanese rival Sara Takanashi a run for the gold.
Speedskater Heather Richardson busted out a world-record setting performance at the 2012 World Sprint Championships, and Sochi marks her second Olympic showing. While she didn’t come back from 2010’s Vancouver Games with any medals, her extra practice since then will make her a force to be reckoned with in the 500-meter and 1,000-meter races.
For the slalom events, where skiers race down a winding course marked by flags or poles, Mikaela Shiffrin became the first American to win three World Cup slalom events in 2013. The teenager just might make more of a name for herself by winning a gold medal as the youngest alpine medalist.
When it comes to beauty and physical control, 22-year-old US figure skater Ashley Wagner is the very symbol of elegance and style. The two-time national champ caused some controversy last fall when she spoke out against Russia’s anti-gay law, which basically makes it illegal for any kind of public discussion of gay issues with minors. Her performance at Sochi just might cause Russian President Vladimir Putin some more embarrassment if she takes the gold!
Since the US male figure skaters are unlikely to defend the injured Evan Lysacek’s gold medal, it’ll be up to Wagner and the American ice dancing team of Meryl Davis and Charlie White to bring it home.
Featured image courtesy of US Olympic Team Facebook. Winter Olympics Facebook. Image of Shaun White courtesy of Shaun White Facebook. Ashley Wagner courtesy of David W. Carmichael on Wikipedia.