You’ve heard more than your share about Lolo Jones, Shaun White, Bode Miller and Ashley Wagner. It’s time to turn your attention to some other Americans who may not be as familiar to you now, but could be by the time the Sochi Olympics close Feb. 23.
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Gracie Gold, figure skating
Gold triple-jumped into the American sporting consciousness at Omaha’s CenturyLink Center by finishing second at the 2013 U.S. national figure skating championships. She won the long program here with a performance that included seven triple jumps. The odds are long that Gold will win a medal in Sochi, but she did rally at the ’13 nationals from ninth place overall to second after the short program.
Taylor and Arielle Gold, halfpipe snowboard
Brother and sister (Taylor is 20, Arielle 17, neither are related to Gracie) have been each other’s inspirations while soaring their way to Sochi. After struggling for a time, Taylor focused more on fundamentals and earned the chance to show off his bag of mid-air tricks on the biggest stage. Arielle is a natural who sharpened her focus in 2011 and earned several medals in 2013 World Cup events. Both easily could come home with their own medals.
Patrick Kane, hockey
The 25-year-old center/right wing already has won two Stanley Cup titles with the Chicago Blackhawks and a silver medal at the 2010 Vancouver Olympics with Team USA. Look for Kane to be more of an offensive threat this time as he has evolved into more of a shooter instead of a passer in the offensive zone. Patience is paying off for the budding superstar.
Ted Ligety, giant slalom
This is a name that should be more recognizable, considering he became the first man in 45 years to win three events at the 2013 world championships. Ligety won the giant slalom, super-G and super combined events. Entering Sochi, Ligety has dominated the giant slalom, having won four World Cup titles since 2008.
Mikaela Shiffrin, slalom and giant slalom
Shiffrin is one of the Americans featured on the five Sports Illustrated covers this week (so are the Gold girls). Shiffrin, like Gracie Gold, is 18 and quickly moving to the top of her sports. She’s the youngest man or woman slalom world champion in U.S. history and the first non-European to win four World Cup slalom races in one season. One of Team USA’s best hopes for a gold medal in any event.
Emily Scott, short track speed skating
Not often does an Olympian attract the attention of cattlenetwork.com, but the Springfield, Mo., native has done just that. When she wasn’t training for the events that would eventually lead her to Sochi, Scott, 24, worked on her father and grandfather’s farm in nearby Everton. It hasn’t been an easy personal path for Scott — just six months before qualifying for Team USA, Scott had filed for food stamps when training funding was reduced.
Emily Cook, freestyle aerials
The Boston native is set to compete in her second consecutive Olympics. Cook actually has qualified for three Olympic teams but couldn’t compete at the 2002 Games — or for three years after that — while rehabilitating her feet after shattering them practicing in Park City, Utah, before the Games. She finished the 2012-13 ranked second overall in the aerials standings.
Elana Meyers, bobsled driver
Meyers is the driver who originally suggested Lolo Jones try bobsledding. Meyers finished second to Olympic champion Kaillie Humphries of Canada for the World Cup bobsled title last week. Meyers lost by less than 0.10, so no matter whom her brakeman is — Jones, Aja Evans or track and field gold medalist Lauryn Williams — gold is not out of the question for Meyers.
Erin Hamlin, luge singles
While this event traditionally has been dominated by Germans, Hamlin gives the U.S. serious hope to earn a spot on the medal stand. The 27-year-old is headed to her third Olympics, a feat not accomplished by a U.S. female since the 1990s. In an event that takes its times to the thousandth, every little edge counts.