Before the 2014 Sochi Winter Olympics began, we released our top five U.S. athletes to watch as they were our Olympic hopefuls to grab a medal in Russia.
Besides the #SochiProblems that arose during the Winter Games, some of the United States athletes had their problems competing for a medal and found themselves on the wrong end of the headlines during the 19 days of competition in Sochi.
So how did they do? Find out below.
5. Mikaela Shiffrin – Alpine Skiing
The 18-year-old Colorado native lived up to the hype that surrounded her on the steep and wild hills before the Winter Olympics began. After having success on the world stage in the Slalom discipline, Shiffrin was a heavy favorite to win a medal in Sochi. The young superstar skiing prodigy is now an Olympic champion for the U.S. as she won a gold medal in the Slalom discipline.
In her Olympic debut, Shiffrin finished 1st in Slalom with a time of 1:44.54 and beat her childhood idol Marlies Schild from Austria. She also competed in the Giant Slalom where she finished 5th before her Olympic gold run down the hill.
Shiffrin is now the superstar skier for Team USA and will be a top competitor in the 2018 South Korea Winter Olympics.
4. Shaun White – Snowboarding
It was a disappointing Olympic run for Shaun White as he walked away from Sochi without a medal. He finished fourth in the halfpipe event and just missed a spot on the podium by two points. White was a heavy favorite to win the gold medal and three-peat in the event, but it was a different story after the news broke out that he did not medal. He went from a gold medal favorite to one of the biggest disappointments for Team USA in the 2014 Winter Olympics.
Although he may have finished fourth and received the wrong end of headlines during the Winter Games, it was still a worthy performance from White and he wasn’t a sore loser about missing the Olympic podium. He was still a great role model despite the Olympic defeat and that in itself is gold medal worthy for the future generation of snowboarders.
Will this be Shaun White’s last Olympics? White will be 31, when the Winter Olympics come to South Korea in 2018.
3. Jamie Anderson – Snowboarding
The 23-year-old U.S. snowboarder, Jamie Anderson crushed the competition and flew towards the top of the podium in the Olympic debut of the Slopestyle event in Sochi. The snowboarding superstar from South Lake Tahoe, Calif., was on the Olympic radar to win gold before the Winter Games began in Sochi. Anderson lived up to the hype that surrounded her, and finished the first weekend of the Winter Olympics with a gold medal around her neck.
Anderson has consistently been a dominant force in the event from competing in the Winter X-Games, where she grabbed gold four times. With high-flying tricks and an amazing Olympic performance, Anderson became an icon for women’s snowboarding, and also without knowing launched herself as a superstar Olympic athlete to watch in 2018.
Of course, if you can’t wait four more years to watch the snowboarding princess fly off the slopes – the Winter X-Games and World Cup events happen every year.
2. Shani Davis – Speed Skating
It was the Olympic suits that killed the beast…or at least it was just an Olympic headline excuse on why Shani Davis and his fellow speed skaters were shutout on the ice.
Shani Davis, like Shaun White was going for an Olympic gold medal three-peat on the icy oval track in the 1,000 meter event but found himself in the middle of Olympic headlines as one of the most disappointing performances of the 2014 Sochi Winter Games. Although with the controversial news of Team USA’s olympic track suits having a flaw in the design causing the suits to have more air in them – Davis wasn’t having it and repeatedly said it’s not because of the suits on why he couldn’t find the podium in Sochi.
Is this Davis’ Olympic exit? Without receiving a medal – it sure wasn’t the way fans wanted Davis to leave his rumored last Olympic games.
1. Gracie Gold – Figure Skating
The 18-year-old Olympic figure skater walked away from the Sochi Olympics with a bronze medal in the first-ever Team Figure Skating event in the Winter Games. In the ladies single event on the ice rink, the always smiling Gracie Gold finished fourth for Team USA.
In her Olympic debut, Gold performed a good short program routine to help the U.S. win bronze in the team event. Almost two weeks later, in the ladies single event, the American found trouble on the ice after falling twice in her performance along with her podium chances. Even with a few tumbles on the ice, Gold still managed to perform the routine, and end it with a smile and the notion that she was happy about competing in the Winter Olympic Games. Gold was the top U.S. athlete in the final standings.
Although she didn’t grab a medal after being on the Olympic radar from her amazing world championship performance in January – Gold will definitely return to South Korea as a medal contender for Team USA in 2018.
You can follow David Pradel on Twitter: @davepradel_