By Andre Khatchaturian
BU News Service
A lot of the talk leading up to the 2014 Sochi Winter Olympic Games has been how a $51 billion investment has led to stray dogs running around hotel lobbies in the resort city in southern Russia. Oh yeah, and how visitors shouldn’t throw toilet paper in the toilet.
Well, now that the Opening Ceremonies are here, it’s time to take a quick glance at all of the events that will take place over the next two and a half weeks. There will be 15 different sports featuring a total of 98 different medaled events.
There will be 10 different events (five for men and five for women) in the alpine skiing discipline. These events consist of the Downhill, Super-G, Slalom, Giant Slalom, and Combined. Austria has historically dominated the discipline, winning 31 gold medals all time. For Team USA, Bode Miller and Julia Mancuso are favored to medal. In 2010, Miller notched a gold medal in the Super Combined, a silver in the Super-G, and a bronze in the Downhill. Meanwhile, Mancuso earned two silvers in the Downhill and Super Combined. Downhill gold medalist Lindsay Vonn will miss the Sochi games due to injury.
Biathlon combines cross-country skiing with rifle shooting. There are 11 different events in the biathlon (five for men, five for women, and a mixed relay). Each event has a shooting component paired with a cross-country skiing race with varying lengths (10 km, 12.5, 15, and 20). Historically, Germany has owned the biathlon discipline, earning a total of 43 medals. The United States did not medal in the discipline during the 2010 Vancouver Games.
Led by Stephen Holcomb, the United States struck gold in 2010 in the men’s four-man bobsled event and they’ll look to do so again in Sochi. There will be three events this year – two-man, four-man, and two-woman. The Jamaican bobsled team will make a triumphant return and have 50-1 odds to win gold.
There will be 12 events (six for men, six for women) associated with cross-country skiing in the 2014 Sochi Games. The United States did not medal in any events in Vancouver. In fact, no American has ever struck gold in any cross-country skiing event. Bill Koch is the only American to ever medal in the sport, which has been in the Olympics since 1924. Kikkan Randall of Alaska is looking to change that. She’s a contender for the gold medal in the Women’s Individual and Team Sprints.
The sport that is affectionately known as “Chess on Ice” will make a triumphant return after becoming a fan favorite in the United States during the 2010 Games. Stones will be thrown and swept at the Ice Cube Curling Center for 12 consecutive days starting February 10. The United States finished dead last in both the men’s and women’s tournaments. They will look to change their fortunes this year. John Shuster returns as skip for the men’s team and Erika Brown takes over as skip for the women.
Figure Skating will have a team event this year, which combines the individual events (men’s and women’s singles, ice dancing, and pairs). The standard individual events will also take place. For the United States, 2010 silver medalists Meryl Davis and Charlie White return as gold medal contenders in ice dancing. Evan Lysacek, the 2010 men’s singles gold medalist, suffered a labrum injury and will not participate in the Sochi Games. Instead, Jeremy Abbott will try to bring back gold to the U.S.
The freestyle skiing discipline will introduce four new events (two for men and two for women) in 2014 – halfpipe and slopestyle. Along with the men’s and women’s aerials, ski cross, and moguls, there will be 10 freestyle skiing events this year. In 2010, the United States earned four medals with the only gold going to Hannah Kearney in the women’s moguls. Kearney returns to defend her gold in Sochi.
For the fifth consecutive Olympics, the NHL will be sending players to participate in the Men’s Ice Hockey tournament. Canada defeated the United States in the 2010 Gold Medal Game in Vancouver after Sidney Crosby scored the game-winner in overtime. Crosby returns to a stacked Canadian lineup to defend their gold. However, the United States, Russia, Sweden, and Finland all have numerous NHLers and are looking to bring home the gold. On the women’s side, Canada looks to continue its world domination by capturing its fourth straight gold. They outscored opponents 41-2 during the 2010 games. Boston University’s Marie-Philip Poulin will play on the team.
For those who don’t know, luge is a small sled on which one sleds (either alone or with someone else) feet first and heads up. There will be four luge events (men’s, women’s, doubles, and team relay) in this year’s Olympics. The United States did not medal in 2010. Germany captured two gold medals.
Nordic Combined is a combination of ski jumping and cross-country skiing. Bill Demong of the United States won the gold medal, ending an 86-year American drought, in the Individual large hill/10 km event back in the Vancouver games. Demong returns to defend his gold medal. Meanwhile, U.S. flag bearer Todd Lodwick will become the first American to participate in six Winter Games. He won a silver medal in the team event in Vancouver.
Short Track Speed Skating:
This is one of the more exciting events in the Winter Olympics. There will be eight events (four for men, four for women) of varying lengths in the discipline. The United States failed to win a gold medal in the 2010 Vancouver games. Apolo Ohno won three medals, though, and became the most decorated American Winter Olympian. However, Ohno, the face of American short track speed skating is now doing Subway commercials and has retired. The Americans will look to JR Celski to return to the top of the mountain in a sport dominated by South Korea.
Skeleton is like luge, except the sledder goes face down. There are two events in the discipline (one for men, one for women). The United States failed to medal during the 2010 Vancouver Games, but leads the all-time medal count with six. Noelle Pikus-Pace will try to get the United States back at the top of the podium.
For the first time ever, women will have their own event in the ski jumping discipline. There will also be three events for the men. Sarah Hendrickson of the United States is one of the favorites to win gold in the women’s event. As for the men, Simon Ammann of Switzerland needs two medals to become the most decorated Olympic ski jumper.
Snowboarding is slowly becoming one of the most popular sports in the Olympic games. There will be 10 events in the discipline (five for men, five for women). Four of the events are new additions (men’s and women’s slopestyle and giant slalom). Of course, for Americans, the biggest headliner is Shaun White, who easily won the gold medal in the halfpipe in 2010. He will return to retain his title in Sochi.
There will be 12 events (six for men, six for women) of varying distances in the Speed Skating discipline. The United States had a strong World Cup showing and is expected to bring home plenty of medals. In 2010, Shani Davis struck gold in the 1000m event and will look to defend his title in possibly his last Olympics. Meanwhile, for the women, Heather Richardson will look to bring home the gold for the Americans.