Team USA: Top 5 Athletes to Watch


From left to right: Alpine skier Mikaela Shiffrin, speed skater champion Shani Davis, U.S. national champion Gracie Gold, slopestyle gold medalist hopeful Jamie Anderson and two-time gold medalist snowboarder Shaun White.

With the 2014 Winter Olympic games underway in Sochi, Russia; these are the top five U.S. athletes to watch this February as they compete against World-Class athletes on their individual quest for gold.

5. Mikaela Shiffrin – Alpine Skiing

The 18-year-old slalom specialist is making her Olympic debut, and after winning gold at the Alpine World Ski Championships last year, all eyes will be on Shiffrin when she skies down the Caucasus Mountains this month.

The Colorado native made her World Cup debut at the age of 15, and since then has been on the Olympic radar for a couple of years. She was recently named “The Next Lindsey Vonn” by Sports Illustrated Olympic Preview magazine.

Now that the 2014 Sochi Winter games are about to begin, and with U.S. superstar skier Lindsey Vonn not on this year’s Olympic team due to injury, Shiffrin finds herself at the forefront of the U.S. ski team to win gold and be the next Olympic star of the future.

4. Shaun White – Snowboarding

This is White’s third Olympic appearance, and he is looking to three-peat in the halfpipe event and to add to his collection this month. He is a top contender for Team USA, so don’t be surprised when the two-time Olympic gold medalist wins another medal in Sochi.

Recently, the San Diego native won his 6th consecutive 1st place medal in the SuperPipe event in Aspen, Colorado at the 17th Winter X-Games.

The talented athlete stepped onto the World stage at the age of  17 during the 2003 Winter X-Games and took the nation by storm with his high flying tricks and upbeat personality. Three years later, “The Flying Tomato” won gold at the 2006 Olympic Games, and since then, he has been a dominant snowboarding icon.

3. Jamie Anderson – Snowboarding

The high flying slopestyle snowboarder is already taking off to gold medal potential at the 2014 Sochi Winter games. Anderson already has eight slopestyle medals – four of them gold from the Winter X-Games and is now looking to grab gold in the Olympic debut of the slopestyle event this year.

Anderson started her snowboarding career when she was 13 at the X-Games, and two years later she became the youngest Winter X-Games athlete to have won a medal in 2006 when she took home a bronze.

The American snowboarder could be the first to win gold this Sunday for Team USA!

2. Shani Davis – Speed Skating

The superstar speed skater from Chicago is looking to make history this year in Sochi. Along with U.S. snowboarder Shaun White, Shani Davis is looking to win three consecutive gold medals in the same event. But since the 1,000 meter final is on Feb. 12, a week before the halfpipe final where White looks to grab gold; Davis has a clear shot to be the first U.S. man to win three gold medals.

The 31-year-old speed demon is a favorite to win gold in the 1,000 and 1,500 meters this month, and he recently placed first in the U.S. Olympic Trials in both events. It won’t be a surprise when Davis crosses the icy finish line first next week.

1. Gracie Gold – Figure Skating

As was noted in a previous article here on, the young golden girl Gracie Gold is a gold medalist hopeful this year in the ice rink.

The 18-year-old ice skater is the next ice princess for the U.S. since Michelle Kwans’ departure in 2006. The U.S. national champion is looking to continue her recent success from the World Championships last month and became an early favorite to win in the ladies singles event and also to help Team USA win in the first ever skating team event in Russia.

By skating her way to the top, Gold has become the face for this year’s Olympic games and more importantly an icon and role model for the future.


You can follow David Pradel on Twitter: @davepradel_

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