The United States won the medal count with 37 at the Vancouver Olympics, which included nine gold, 15 silver and 13 bronze. If the Americans are to stage another top performance, the following athletes could play a role.
Alpine skiing: Lindsey Vonn
Vonn is coming off a serious knee injury she suffered in a crash at the world championships in February. The 29-year-old has won four overall World Cup titles and earned gold (downhill) and bronze (super-G) medals in Vancouver. If she’s healthy, watch out.
Alpine skiing: Mikaela Shiffrin
A newcomer to the World Cup scene, Shiffrin surged to four slalom victories last season along with a gold medal in the event at the world championships. At just 18 years old, Shiffrin is a threat to win a medal in Sochi.
Alpine skiing: Bode Miller
The most decorated American Alpine skier in Olympic history, Miller has competed at the last four Olympics and has amassed one gold medal (2010, super combined), three silvers and a bronze. The 36-year-old, who has caused controversy in the past with his edgy attitude, looks to add to his total in Sochi.
Alpine skiing: Ted Ligety
Ligety won three events at the 2013 World Championships and will enter Sochi favored in multiple races. The 29-year-old, who specializes in the super-G, giant slalom and the combined, won a gold medal at the 2006 Games but came up short four years ago.
Speed skating: Shani Davis
With two gold medals in the 1000m and two silvers in the 1500m, Davis returns for his third Olympics with high hopes. He still owns the world records in both events, which he set in 2009. We’ll get our first glimpse of the Chicago native this season when the World Cup calendar kicks off Nov. 8 in Calgary.
Bobsled: Steven Holcombe
Holcombe’s story was one of the best at the 2010 Olympics, as he piloted the four-man U.S. sled known as the “Night Train” to victory. It was the first time a U.S. crew had won an Olympic bobsled gold medal since the 1948 Games, a span of 62 years. He steered the two-man, four-man and mixed teams to world titles in 2012.
Bobsled: Lolo Jones
Jones usually spends her time on a rubberized track and competes in hurdles races, but she switched to bobsled last fall. Now 31 and bulked up to add weight for the sliding sport, Jones wants to win an Olympic medal that eluded her the past two Summer Olympics. Her sprinter legs just might push her to the medal podium.
Snowboard: Shaun White
Arguably the most recognizable winter Olympian, White has played a key role in making snowboarding such a popular sport. He won the halfpipe gold medal at the last two Olympics and has more than a dozen X-Games titles. He’ll aim for two more golds in Sochi, with the addition of slopestyle.
Snowboard: Hannah Teter
The Vermont native gained international stardom in 2006 when she won Olympic halfpipe gold, and she followed that with a silver medal at the Vancouver Games. Now just 26, can she improve on that result and reclaim her spot atop the podium?
Figure skating: Meryl Davis and Charlie White
This ice dancing duo followed its silver-medal performance in Vancouver with world titles in 2011 and 2013. They have skated together since 1997 and have won the last five U.S. championships.
Figure skating: Ashley Wagner
Wagner won the ladies’ singles title at the last two U.S. Championships, and enters these Olympics as a strong favorite to win a medal. She recently finished second to Japan’s Mao Asada at Skate America. Sochi will be the first Olympics for the 22-year-old.
Figure skating: Gracie Gold
If anyone from the U.S. can spoil Wagner’s on-ice party, it’s Gold. The 18-year-old finished a little more than two points behind Wagner at the 2013 U.S. Championships and appears ready to make a splash in her Olympic debut. She recently switched coaches and now works with Frank Carroll, who also guides Evan Lysacek.
Figure skating: Evan Lysacek
Lysacek won the gold medal in Vancouver despite not attempting a quad jump, which incensed runner-up Yevgeny Plushenko. Almost four years later, the 28-year-old Lysacek is hoping to make the Olympic team and defend his title. An abdominal tear and a hip labrum tear have slowed him down — and he hasn’t competed since Vancouver. Still, he’ll be someone to watch should he earn a trip to Russia.
Figure skating: Max Aaron
Aaron vaulted to the top of the U.S. figure skating scene by winning the 2013 national title. And now, the former speed skater and ice hockey player has an Olympic medal in his crosshairs. The 21-year-old recently finished third at Skate America.
Ski jumping: Sarah Hendrickson
Hendrickson won the 2013 world title and appeared poised to be a superstar at the Sochi Olympics, but a serious knee injury in August jeopardized her chances of making the U.S. team. Sochi will be the first time women’s ski jumping will be in the Olympics and Hendrickson, who is currently spending six hours a day in physical therapy, hopes to be there.