I’ve seen most of the Olympics that have aired so far, so I thought I’d give my thoughts on the various teams and their strengths.
Hockey: The men are playing right now, so I can’t really speak to their abilities until I get home from work. The women, however looked devastating in their victory over China. They won 12-1, and I was amazed that China even managed that one goal. Now, China is not the strongest program, I get that. But the pure execution of the US Women’s hockey team was absolutely spectacular. They showed no signs of Olympic nerves and look poised to challenge Canada (who also looked pretty good, winning their opener 18-0) for the gold. If they can keep up their offensive juggernaut, other teams will not be able to get the puck into the US’s zone enough to score many points.
Skiing/snowboarding: The ski and snowboard teams for the US look incredibly strong this year. They’ve already struck gold at women’s moguls (Hanna Kearney) and men’s snowboard cross (Seth Wescott), while also achieving a silver in Nordic combined (an American first) and bronzes in men’s moguls and men’s alpine downhill. And some of the biggest stars of these events have yet to compete. Sean White will be the hands on favorite to win the halfpipe. Lindsey Jacobellis will certainly be looking for redemption after losing gold to her own showboating at Torino. We still have 4 events for Bode Miller to finally bring home some gold. And Lindsay Vonn is getting healthier with each weather delay in Vancouver. While the skiing events are usually dominated by the European nations, especially Austria and Switzerland, I see America putting up challenges in most of the remaining events, taking home at least a few gold medals.
Speed Skating: To begin with, I love Apollo Ohno. I think he is a phenomenal athlete racing in a dangerous sport, and he does it without losing his charm and charisma. He has several events left, including the one he got gold at Torino for, and I see him breaking the record for most medals in a Winter Olympics by an American. As for the longer speed-skating races, I think the best is yet to come. While we didn’t look good in the 500 or 5000 meter races, I think the strongest races are still coming. Stephen Colbert would not have sponsored this team if he didn’t believe in them.
Ice Skating: The pairs didn’t medal, but they looked stronger than the US has ever looked before in pairs’ figure skating. This bodes well for the future of the program. Next up we have the men’s figure skating, which features a US Champion, a World Champion, and Johnny Weir, who I hate. I’m not as familiar with the women’s squad, but America traditionally has very strong female figure skaters who are always on or around the podium come the finals. I wouldn’t be surprised to see us medal in both individual skating events.
Curling and Bobsled/Luge/Skeleton: I have no idea if we’ll be good or not, but I seem to recall our bobsled and skeleton teams are at least competent.
So there you have it: the future looks strong for the U.S. in Vancouver. I firmly believe that the U.S. will win both for overall medals (we’re currently in the lead) and for gold medals won, which would be a first for us.