-You probably know him from those Nyquil commercials, but Ligety is also the favorite to win Giant Slalom on Feb. 19. He comes to the Olympics after placing first in the event at the World Championships and in the World Cup Standings.
Ligety entered his first Olympics in 2006 where he won gold in the Super-Combined. He is also the first man since 1968 to win three gold medals at a single World Championships when he won Super-G, Giant Slalom and Super-Combined in 2013.
Look for Ligety to race on the Feb. 19.
-The story that brought Lanny Barnes to the Olympics was pretty unique. According to National Public Radio, it was actually Lanny’s twin sister Tracy Barnes who qualified to the Olympics. However, right after making it to the big event, she immediately gave the spot to her sister, Lanny, who had gotten sick the week before qualifiers, causing her to come in sixth and just miss the cut. Said Lanny to NPR: “I’ve seen how hard she works and that she deserves a spot — and she had earned it. But she’s been very adamant about this, and I know Tracy better than anybody, and I know this is what she wants. I just want to make Tracy happy.”
Watch Lanny race on Feb. 14.
-Holcomb and his crew come in to the Sochi Olympics as the defending gold medalists. Their last three trips to the World Championships have resulted in two bronzes and a gold medal.
Holcomb was almost forced to retire from competition due to deteriorating eyesight that almost left Holcomb legally blind. Holcomb was also a member of the National Guard from 1999-2006.
He and his team are in position to medal as they race on Feb. 23.
-This is Diggins’ first olympic experience, but she comes to the Olympics having earned gold in the World Championships. She also is part of the team sprint that won their first ever World Championship win.
Although she’s only 26 and has the nickname “Team USA Glitter Fairy” (because she puts glitter on her cheeks before every race), don’t count Jessie Diggins out. She’d going to put up a fight and comes into the races as one of the best cross-country skiers in American history.
-Shuster and his team are looking to improve their abysmal last place finish at the 2010 Vancouver Olympics. In their first Olympic appearance in 2006, they earned a bronze medal, showing that they have the skill to compete in one of the most beloved Winter Olympic events.
-Erika Brown and her team (Debbie McCormick, Jessica Schultz, Ann Swisshelm and Allison Pottinger)
-Erika competed in her first Olympics in 1988 when she was 15 years old. In 2010, the women’s team finished alongside the men in 10th place. McCormick is competing in her fourth straight Olympics and is serving as the vice-captain in the games.
-Edmunds, the 15-year-old underdog in the singles figure skating is not to be underestimated in Sochi. Edmunds won silver at the 2014 U.S. Championships and gold at the 2013 junior U.S. Championships.
With a lot of the pressure on Gracie Gold and Ashley Wagner (Wagner was given an unexpected third spot on the team after finishing fourth at the championships) there isn’t much pressure on Edmunds to win it all, which may be to her advantage as pressure is known to be a downfall in the event.
-Meryl Davis and Charlie White
-This ice dancing pair have been skating together since before they were ten, making them partners for over sixteen years. The pair won gold at the 2013 World Championships and have won the U.S. Championships every year since 2009. These two will be the pair to watch as they compete on Feb. 17.
-Deneen is the only member of the U.S. freestyle skiing team to have competed in the Olympics before. He will be one of the two Americans to compete in Moguls, alongside Bradley Wilson. He finished 19th overall in the Vancouver Olympics. He finished third overall at the 2013 World Championships.
The field is young for freestyle skiing, with many familiar faces from past X Games. Moguls will be raced on Feb. 8 and 10, Slopestyle will race on Feb. 11 and 13, Aerials will be on Feb. 17, halfpipe on Feb. 18, and all other events on Feb. 20 and 21.
-Men’s ice hockey captain Zach Parise
-The men’s ice hockey team is looking to take the gold medal from 2010 winner Canada. In the 2010 finals, Parise scored a clutch last-minute goal for the United States with 24 seconds left to send the game into overtime. He was also ranked third in the games with eight points in six games.
It’s going to be another close year between Canada and the United States, but with a stacked United States team, don’t be surprised if you see the United States and Canada battling it out in one of the last few games.
The finals for men’s ice hockey will be played on Feb. 23.
-The women’s ice hockey team, like their male counterparts, finished second in the Vancouver Olympics to host nation Canada. Their captain for Sochi is a 2013 graduate of the University of Minnesota, who won back to back national championships with the Gophers.
The women, led by Bozek, are looking to make it back to the gold medal game and claim the gold for America.
The finals for women’s ice hockey will be played on Feb. 20.
West, who is 18 years old, is the youngest ever member of the United States Luge Team. He has also been training for this for the past 12 years. In 2002, West’s father decided to build a 32-foot wooden track in their backyard in Ridgefield, Conn. From the time he was six and told his father that the luge he was watching on TV looked cool, West was training in his backyard.
West will make his first run as an Olympian in men’s singles on Feb. 9.
– In the Vancouver Olympics, Demong became the first American to ever win a gold medal in Nordic Combined. He celebrated his gold medal by proposing to his then girlfriend right after the event. Demong also does all of his training with his Border Collie-Lab mix dog Scout. “She loves powder, when I get my back country gear out, she gets so excited, she flips out,” Demong told NBCOlympics.com
For those of you who are unsure about what exactly Nordic Combined is, it’s when athletes compete in both cross-country skiing and ski jumping. Demong and his teammates captured bronze at the World Championships in the team event. Demong is going to attempt to win back to back golds in Nordic Combined.
– With the retirement of Apollo Anton Ohno, the most recognized American short-track skater in recent history, American will look to Celski as one of America’s best chances for gold. In Vancouver, Celski earned bronze in both the 1,500 meter and the 5,000 meter, all while almost missing the events after an injury where he cut himself with his own skate.
In the World Championships 2013/2014, Celski raced to gold in the 1,500 meter and the 5,000 meter, making him the favorite for Sochi. Celski will race on Feb. 8 and 10.
-Pikus-Pace is America’s best chance for gold in what may be one of the most dangerous olympic events. Skeleton is basically luge, except you go down the track head first.
Pikus-Pace comes into Sochi after winning silver in the 2013 World Championships and finishing 2013 in second in the World Standings. She also won bronze at the 2013 World Cup. Pikus-Pace also keeps good spirits as she races, as according to NBCOlympics.com, her love of chocolate is legendary and in one race she even attached a large Hershey bar to her sled.
Pikus-pace will race on Feb. 14.
-Hendrickson will be competing in women’s ski jumping, a new event that is debuting at the Sochi games. Hendrickson and her teammates are looking to bring the previously unrecognized sport into the olympics by winning the first ever gold medal.
Hendrickson had a standout year, finishing first in the World Cup standings and winning gold at the World Championships. Her teammate Lindsey Van, who is 10 years her senior, was the forerunner of the sport. But Hendrickson has taken the sport by storm and will look to make history on Feb. 11.
-Was there ever anybody else to talk about here other than Shaun White? He is one of the most prolific and decorated American snowboarders in history. White is already a two-time gold medalist in the half-pipe and this year will be competing in slopestyle as well.
White has come to dominate the X Games halfpipe, as you would have to go back to 2007 to find the last time White didn’t win gold in X Games halfpipe. Off the snow, White is also the lead guitarist of his band Bad Things. This year he also cut off his long locks that gave him the nickname “the flying tomato.” White will compete in slopestyle on Feb. 8 and halfpipe on Feb. 11.
– Davis has been a consistent competitor for the United States over the last two Olympic Games. In 2010 and 2006, he won gold in the 1,000 meter and silver in the 1,500 meter. He repeated the same feat in the 2013 World Cup Salt Lake City.
Davis was the first black athlete in American history to win gold in a singles event at the Winter Olympics and since then has been a team leader for the United States speedskating team ever since. Look for Davis to try and three-peat gold in the 1,000 meter on Feb. 12 and move from silver to gold in the 1,500 meter on Feb. 15.