Not since 1924 have the Americans had a mid-air medalist, and Anders Haugen had to wait until a scoring error was corrected half a century later to collect it. There should be immediate gratification this time, though, as Sarah Hendrickson will be favored to claim the inaugural women’s gold, with former world champion Lindsey Van also in the chase. No chance for the men, although Peter Frenette could crack the top 30.
Long track speedskating (4/3)
If Shani Davis can regain his Vancouver form, the Americans well could collect another quartet of medals. Heather Richardson, who claimed the women’s world sprint title last month, will be favored for gold in the 1,000 meters and bronze in the 500 while Davis still is the man in the 1,000 and a contender in the 1,500.
The Americans have been sliding backward ever since they won two doubles medals on their Salt Lake track. Their only World Cup podiums this season have come on the Lake Placid run that they can negotiate blindfolded. Busting through the German monopoly is highly unlikely, but there are outside chances for Maine native Julia Clukey, former world champion Erin Hamlin, and the team relay.
Nordic combined (4/0)
Was that a one-hit wonder last time? After collecting a gold and three silvers in 2010, the Yanks have all but vanished. Billy Demong, Todd Lodwick, and Johnny Spillane are still competing but nowhere near podium form. The hopes this time ride with Fletcher Taylor and brother Bryan, who’ve made World Cup podiums and will be in the mix.
Short-track speedskating (6/0)
From half a dozen medals to zero in one quadrennium? That’s more than possible now that Apolo Anton Ohno has moved on (although he’s said to be flirting with a comeback) and Katherine Reutter this month announced her retirement after being plagued by injuries. The best chance rides with J.R. Celski, who won a bronze in the 1,500 meters last time and also will contend in the 1,000.
After a couple of near-misses in Whistler, the Yanks figure to make it back to the podium for the first time since the sport was reintroduced in 2002. Noelle Pikus-Pace, who came out of retirement to win world silver this winter, should make the stand, as could former global champion Katie Uhlaender. John Daly has an outside chance on the men’s side.
The Flying Tomato and most of his five-ringed friends continue to shred it. Shaun White, Scotty Lago, Hannah Teter, and Kelly Clark still have medal-level stuff in the halfpipe, Seth Wescott is capable of a third gold in snowboardcross, and Chas Guldemond could be gilded in the new slopestyle event.
John Powers can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.