Chico State's independent student newspaper

The Orion

Chico State's independent student newspaper

The Orion

Chico State's independent student newspaper

The Orion

Getting ready to watch the Sochi Winter Olympics

The United States heads into the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi with the biggest team in the history of the games. With 230 members comprising Team USA, the team plans to break the record of 37 medals overall, a record it set in the 2010 Vancouver Games.

The Sochi Games kick off with the opening ceremony on Feb. 7. NBC will be broadcasting 1,539 hours of Olympic coverage, so there are no excuses for not supporting the red, white and blue.

Hockey (Feb. 8-23)

Men: Will the U.S. bounce back from a heartbreaking loss in the gold medal round of the last Olympics? They will be led by Chicago Blackhawks forward Patrick Kane and Buffalo Sabres goaltender Ryan Miller, looking for the first U.S. gold medal since the “Miracle on Ice” team in 1980. They will have tough competition from Russia, Sweden and Canada.

Women: The U.S. women’s team is a favorite for a gold medal. They will be trying to dethrone Team Canada, which has taken home the gold in the past three Winter Olympics. The two countries have met in virtually every final game in major tournaments since 1995, with the U.S. winning the World Championships in 2011 and 2013. Can they beat Canada on the world’s biggest stage?

Curling (Feb. 10-21)

Men: In a sport dominated by the neighbors up north, Canada, it seems to be very unlikely for the United States to medal. They come into the games ranked eighth in the world, but will have to knock off Canada or Norway if they hope to have success in Sochi. However, don’t let this discourage you from tuning in. For those who haven’t watched curling before, now is the time to get in on this Olympic phenomenon.

Women: Much like in the men’s situation, Team Canada is dominant in women’s curling. The U.S. women’s team ranks seventh in the world heading into the Sochi Games and if they have any hope of success, they will look for a stellar performance from team leader Erika Brown.

Bobsled (Feb. 16-23)

Men: Steven Holcomb will lead the four-man bobsled team in Sochi, after winning four years ago in Vancouver. They will be battling the host nation favorites, Russia and Germany. The famous Jamaican bobsled team will also be making a return to the Olympics for the first time since 2012.

Women: The six-member U.S. female team is a favorite in medal contention, led by world champion Elana Meyers. The stories to watch in this team will be former Olympic track and field stars Lolo Jones and Lauryn Williams, with their new positions on the bobsled team.

Figure Skating (Feb. 6-20)

Men: Jason Brown, 19, could become an iconic story from the games. Following his performance at the U.S. Figure Skating Championships, Brown could be a favorite in the free skate. Jeremy Abbott will be skating in his last international competition and hopes to finally win big. Abbott has yet to put together a full performance in the Olympics. This could be his time to shine.

Women: Figure skating, much like gymnastics in the Summer Olympics, is an event that seems to capture the American audience. Gracie Gold and Ashley Wagner will lead the team in their hopes to knock off South Korean skater and favorite Kim Yuna. Can Gold bring home the gold for the U.S.?

Snowboarding (Feb. 6-22)

Men: The United States hopes to earn multiple medals in the halfpipe, slopestyle, snowboard cross and the parallel giant slalom. Shaun White is in the running to continue his dominance of the sport, trying for a third victory in the halfpipe and the first Olympic gold in the new event — snowboard slopestyle. Watch for Nate Holland to continue his success for the U.S. in snowboard cross.

Women: The strong U.S. women’s snowboarding team will be led by Kelly Clark, Gretchen Bleiler, Hannah Teter and Arielle Gold as they hope to continue their success on the international level. Clark, Bleiler and Teter already have medals under their belt from previous games and they hope to add more to their storied careers.

Skiing (Feb 6-22)

Men: Ted Ligety and Bode Miller will lead the U.S. ski team in Sochi. The decorated athletes will compete to continue their success in the giant slalom. Aaron Blunck, 17, has been on fire in recent international freestyle skiing competitions and he plans to continue that success in Sochi.

Women: With American fan favorite Lindsey Vonn not competing due to injury, the U.S. medal hopes will fall on 18-year-old world champion Mikaela Shiffrin and veteran Julia Mancuso. The U.S. has always had success in Olympic skiing and this time around looks to be no different.

Greg Silvia can be reached at [email protected] or @gsilvia on Twitter.

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