The 2014 Olympic Games in Sochi, Russia, are just 10 days away — and for athletes and fans alike, the countdown to the Opening Ceremony is finally approaching its end. On Sunday, in Park City, Utah, the U.S. Ski and Snowboard association nominated a record-setting 94 athletes to the U.S. Olympic team.
Competitively, the U.S. team should be just as good as it ever has been. It boasts a total of 76 Olympic experiences and 21 medals. The headliners include Bode Miller, who has five career medals, Julia Mancuso, who has three, and Billy Demong and superstar boarder Shaun White, who each have a pair. Each member of that group has won a gold medal in the past, and they are joined by Hannah Teter, Ted Ligety, Kelly Clark, and Hannah Kearney, who have also stood atop the podium.
President and CEO of the U.S. Ski and Snowboard Association Bill Marolt believes that fans should take pride in the team that is being assembled. “Across all sports, these are athletes that are well prepared to compete in Sochi,” he said. “It is a team of which America can be proud.”
In addition to skill and medal expectations, the combination of youth and experience on the team should also make the competition a lot of fun to watch. Todd Lodwick, the 37-year-old Nordic skier, will be attending his record-setting sixth Games while Maggie Voisin (15), Julia Crass (16), Ty Walker (16), Aaron Blunck (17), and Arielle Gold (17) will all be rookies. Watching the vets and youngsters compete both with and against either other should be quite entertaining.
Luke Bodensteiner, the association’s Executive Vice President, added, “We’ve had a solid Olympic qualifying period that has resulted in the selection of a strong team that is now carrying significant momentum as we head to compete in Sochi in less than two weeks. We have a blend of seasoned veterans who will provide leadership and a mix of young athletes who are ready to compete.”
The 2104 X-Games in Aspen, which just concluded on Sunday night, certainly added to the momentum Bodensteiner referred to. Though the likes of Shaun White, the most decorated superpipe snowboarder in the world and U.S.A. poster-boy, Teter, and some others were not present, Olympians did make their mark in the competition. The legendary Clark and leisurely Danny Davis, who will both compete in halfpipe events, each took gold, while youngster Kaitlyn Farrington also medaled.
White, who elected not to compete in the X-Games, choosing instead to focus on training, emphasized how important the Olympics are to these athletes. “It’s an incredibly tough decision for me and it’s not something I take lightly…but I have to make sure I’m prepared for the Olympics,” he said.