Predicting the United States' Medals
That said, there are some events that still tend to favor the Red, White and Blue -- speed skating and snowboarding among them.
And while the 2010 Winter Olympics may not be the greatest American showing on snow, there are plenty of talented, and in some cases well-known, talents making the trek to Vancouver.
So with the Winter Games kicking off Friday, we try to guess which Americans will bring home some hardware. The U.S. finished with 25 medals during the 2006 games in Turin, a number that the Americans could improve upon in Vancouver if everything goes according to plan.
Bode Miller, skiing: Miller may well wind up competing in all five skiing events in Vancouver, but the super-G and super-combined will likely be his best chances at a medal. A month ago, Miller won a World Cup super-combined race in Switzerland, serving notice that he may be peaking at the right time. Prediction: Bronze (super-combined)
Ted Ligety, skiing: Miller's teammate came out of nowhere to win gold in the combined event at the 2006 Olympics. He won't sneak up on anyone this time. Still, he has to be considered a threat in that event, as well as in the giant slalom, where he captured a World Cup title just two weeks ago. Ligety's been struggling, but is capable of making some noise. Prediction: Bronze (giant slalom)
Lindsey Vonn, skiing (pictured right): The wild card in the United States' Olympic medal hopes is Vonn's injured leg, which she admitted Wednesday could keep her out of the Games. If that's the case, it's a shame for the U.S. ski team -- Vonn's considered the favorite in the downhill, super-giant and combined events. Even if she does go, will she be 100 percent? Prediction: Gold (downhill, super-G), Silver (combined)
Tim Burke, biathlon: The United States has never -- never -- medaled in the biathlon. Burke had a strong run-up to the Olympics, though, performing on a level not often seen in American biathlon. The Associated Press predicted that Burke would win silver in the 12.5K pursuit, an event that he finished 38th in back in 2006. That might be aiming just a bit too high, but Burke finally breaks the U.S. drought. Prediction: Bronze (12.5K pursuit)
Four-man bobsled: The American team of Steven Holcomb, Justin Olsen, Steve Mesler and Curt Tomasevicz refers to itself as "The Night Train" -- and if that doesn't bring results, nothing will. This quartet took the 2009 world championships and are ranked No. 1 in the World Cup standings. This is the team to beat ... and no one will. Prediction: Gold
Two-woman bobsled: Shauna Rohbock and Michelle Rzepka team here -- Rohbock was the driver for the United States' silver-medal winning team in Turin in 2006. She also drove to a silver medal at the 2009 worlds in Lake Placid. This is a tough field, but Rohbock's capable of turning in another strong performance. Prediction: Bronze
Hannah Kearney/Heather McPhie, moguls: The U.S. actually has a very strong foursome in this event, with Shannon Bahrke and Michelle Roark also possible medal contenders. But the general consensus is that, if anyone is going to dethrone Canada's Jennifer Heil, the 2006 gold medalist in this event, it's going to be either Kearney or McPhie. This could be one of the few events that the U.S. double-medals in. Watch out for 22-year-old Patrick Deneen on the men's side. Prediction: Silver (McPhie), Bronze (Kearney)
Jeret Peterson, aerials (right): This name may not be one you know now, but if Peterson lands his signature move -- "The Hurricane" -- in competition, it could wind up being one of the United States' most replayed moments from the Games. The move is a triple-flip, quintuple-twist, and it's a virtual medal-clincher if he stays on his feet. If Peterson stumbles, fellow American Ryan St. Onge, the defending world champion in this event, could slide onto the medal podium. Prediction: Bronze
Evan Lysacek/Jeremy Abbott, men's figure skating: Lysacek looked like the best U.S. hope heading into the nationals in mid-January -- and he still might be, but Abbott stole the show in Spokane, Wash., and took the crown. The AP still calls for a Lysacek silver, but Abbott's riding the good mojo into Vancouver and may be better primed for a leap onto the podium. Prediction: Bronze (Abbott)
Meryl Davis and Charlie White, ice dancing: The Davis-White team had a very, very strong run leading up to Vancouver -- so strong, in fact, that they now look like the team to beat. But this won't be a cakewalk, and America could just as easily miss out on the medals as win gold. Don't forget about the team of Tanith Belbin and Ben Agosto, either, who finished second to Davis and White at the nationals. Belbin-Agosto were the 2006 silver medalists. Prediction: Gold
Women's ice hockey: Since winning gold at the 1998 Olympics, the first year women's ice hockey was included in the Games, the American team has struggled to get back, taking silver in 2002 and bronze in 2006. The U.S. is one of two favorites this year -- but the other is Canada, which has played well against the Americans lately, and will have a huge, vocal home crowd behind it. Prediction: Silver
Billy Demong/Todd Lodwick/Johnny Spillane, nordic combined: Most Americans probably aren't even aware of this sport, which combines cross-country skiing and ski jumping, but it's one of the U.S. team's strongest events this year. Demong had a sensational 2009, finishing third in the World Cup standings with 10 top-three finishes. He's the best hope for an individual medal, but the team event may fall into American hands. Prediction: Silver (Demong -- individual large hill), Gold (team)
Apolo Anton Ohno, short track speed skating (right): Along with Miller and Vonn, Ohno is probably the most recognizable American Olympian. He could become the Winter Games' version of Michael Phelps, too, if he can bring America medals in the four short-track events. If nothing else, he has a chance in every individual endeavor and gives the U.S. 5,000 relay team a shot. Prediction: Gold (1,000), Silver (500 and 1,500), Bronze (team relay)
Katherine Reutter, short track speed skating: Reutter's proven herself a threat in the 1,000- and 1,500-meter events -- she's currently ranked second and third, respectively, in the World Cup standings. She has a shot at taking home multiple medals, too, though one would probably suffice after she failed to qualify for the 2006 team. Prediction: Bronze (1,000)
Shani Davis/Tucker Fredericks/Chad Hedrick/Trevor Marsicano, speed skating: Perhaps the strongest U.S. group, the Americans won seven medals here in 2006. They likely won't push that number again, but they could hit for a few big wins. Prediction: Gold (Davis -- 1,000 and 1,500), Bronze (team relay)
Shaun White, men's halfpipe: The "Flying Tomato" is back to defend his 2006 gold in this event at the age of 22 -- which makes him like the Julio Franco or Matt Stover of snowboarding. Still, there's no one in the world that can match him in this event if he's on. Prediction: Gold
Gretchen Bleiler/Kelly Clark/Hannah Teeter, women's halfpipe: Could this be a sweep for the Americans? Don't bet against it -- there aren't a lot of competitors that could bump the U.S. off the medal podium, especially in the case of Bleiler and Clark, who seem to be the favorites for 1-2. In fact, let's just go ahead and bring this whole thing back home to the States. Prediction: Gold (Bleiler), Silver (Clark), Bronze (Teeter)
Nate Holland/Seth Wescott, men's snowboard cross: Westcott won this event at the 2006 Olympics, but Holland might usurp his spot as the American's best competitor. Pierre Vaultier of France is the odds-on favorite for gold, but it's wide open behind him. Prediction: Wescott (Silver), Holland (Bronze)
Lindsey Jacobellis, women's snowboard cross: You remember Jacobellis, right? The brash American had a gold medal locked up in this event in 2006, until she tried to pull off a trick going over the last jump, fell and settled for silver. Will she bounce back here and win the gold she thought she had the first time around? We'll have to wait and see what her mindset is. Prediction: Silver