The United States has always been better in the Summer Olympics than the Winter Olympics. The climate in most areas of the United States is more suited to the running and swimming required in the summer than the skiing and skating needed in winter.

This year, however, the United States is poised for a record medal haul in Salt Lake City. The United States has never won more than 13 medals in the winter games, but should surpass that total with ease this year. The U.S. athletes will have the home crowd cheering them on and should win at least 20 medals. If everything goes right, they could win as many as 40.

The opening ceremony will begin the 2002 Winter Olympics at 8 p.m. Friday, so it is time to break down each event.

Jacobs can be reached at bjacobs@campustimes.org.

Alpine skiing

Bode Miller is the best U.S. male skier. Miller is the favorite to win the slalom and could end up with three medals as he is a top contender in the giant slalom and the combined. His biggest competition in the slalom will be Croatia’s Ivica Kostelic. Kjetil Andre Aamodt and Lasse Kjus of Norway should both win medals in the combined. The giant slalom is wide open, with five skiers from different countries ? including Miller ? legitimate threats to medal.

The U.S. men will have less success in the speed events ? downhill and super-G. Daron Rahlves won the super-G title last year and is the best hope, but he has been slipping lately. Austria’s Stephan Eberharter is the favorite to win both events and Hannes Trinkl and Fritz Strobl could give Austria a sweep in the downhill.

Picabo Street has one last chance to win another medal in the downhill, but her comeback attempt will probably fall short. Slalom specialist Kristina Koznick is the best United States hope for a medal, but she will be up against Sweden’s Anja Paerson, who is the best in the world.

Caroline Lalive will ski in every event except the giant slalom, and she has an outside shot at a medal in the combined event. One of the quartet of young Americans in the super-G ? Lalive, Kristen Clark, Sarah Schleper and Jonna Mendes ? could win a surprise medal.

Germany’s Hilde Gerg will try to win both the downhill and the super-G and Austria’s Michaela Dorfmeister should win three medals ?downhill, combined and giant slalom ? but probably not gold.

Biathlon

There are eight events in the biathlon ? four each for the men and the women ? and the U.S. does not have a chance to medal in any of them.

Germany’s Frank Luck should lead Germany to the team gold and at least two individual medals. Ole Einar Bjoerndalen of Norway, Raphael Poiree of France and Pavel Rostovtsev of Russia will compete with Luck for the individual golds.

Sweden’s Magdalena Forsberg could win all three individual events, but she will get strong competition from Norway’s Liv Grete Skjelbreid-Poiree. Germany should win the team gold, but might not win any individual medals.

Bobsled

The U.S. teams have been immersed in controversy this winter, but they are still favorites to medal in each event.

Todd Hays lost teammate Pavle Jovanovic to a drug suspension, but is still a favorite to end the 46-year-old U.S. medal drought in bobsled. Hays’ competition in the four-man will come from two German teams ? driven by Andre Lange and Christoph Langen. Langen is the favorite in the two-man event, but Hays and Switzerland’s Martin Annen hope to give him a challenge.

Jean Racine is still a favorite to medal in the two-woman event, but she will now race with young bodybuilder Gea Johnson instead of longtime friend Jen Davidson. Two German teams are also favorites to medal.

Cross-country skiing

This is another area that the U.S. has not had success in, and that will not change this year. Norway and Sweden have the top men’s teams while Norway and Russia will win most of the women’s medals.

Curling

Canada and Sweden will probably take gold and silver, although not necessarily in that order, in both men’s and women’s. Switzerland’s men should take the bronze while the women from Denmark and Norway fight for third.

Figure skating

The United States has won at least one figure skating medal in 14 straight winter games and will extend the streak to 15 this year.

Todd Eldredge and Timothy Goebel both have a chance to win the bronze for the United States. Russia’s Alexei Yagudin and Yevgeny Plushchenko will battle for the gold.

The U.S. women ? Michelle Kwan, Sarah Hughes and Sasha Cohen ? have an outside shot at sweeping the individual event. Russia’s Irina Slutskaya and Maria Butyrskaya will try to break up the party.

Canada will compete with Russia for gold in the pairs and with France in the dance.

Freestyle skiing

Jonny Moseley won the gold medal in the moguls for the United States in 1998, but Jeremy Bloom is the best American medal hope in the moguls this year. Janne Lahtela of Finland is the favorite and countryman Mikko Ronkainen and Canada’s Stephane Rochon have medal hopes as well.

Eric Bergoust is the favorite to win the aerials for the United States. Alexei Grichin of Belarus will be his toughest opponent. Emily Cook, the top U.S. female aerialist, will miss the Olympics with a right foot injury and the U.S. will not medal in the aerials without her. Australia’s Jacqui Cooper and Alla Tsuper of Belarus are the favorites.

The U.S. women have two chances to medal in the moguls. Hannah Hardaway and Shannon Burke are both serious medal contenders, but Norway’s Kari Traa is the favorite to win.

Hockey

The U.S. women’s hockey team is almost a lock to defend its gold medal. The U.S. went 31-0 in the exhibition season and was rarely tested.

From captain Cammie Granato down to 16-year-old Lindsay Wall ? a junior at local Churchville-Chili High School ? the U.S. team has more talent than any other in the world.

The women will likely face Canada, who they have defeated eight straight times, in the gold-medal game.

Canada and the United States both hope to make the men’s gold-medal game as well, especially after neither team won a medal in 1998.

The United States will win or lose on the strength of Mike Richter’s goaltending. The team has plenty of offensive firepower, but the defense is old and might not be able to handle the bigger ice space.

Canada has not won gold since 1952 and looks to end that streak this year. The Canadians have a frighteningly good offense and two of the best defensemen in the NHL ? Rob Blake and Chris Pronger ? but they would be more clear-cut favorites if Patrick Roy were not sitting out.

The Czech Republic ? with Dominik Hasek and Jaromir Jagr ? and Russia will both be big factors in tournament and Finland and Sweden could make an impact as well.

Luge

The U.S. lugers are peaking at just the right time.

Tony Benshoof likes the fast track in Utah and could sneak away with a medal in the singles. Germany’s Georg Hackl is the favorite to win his fourth straight gold. Italy’s Armin Zoeggeler and Austria’s Markus Prock are also favorites to medal.

Mark Grimmette and Brian Martin won the bronze medal in the doubles for the United States in 1998 and could do it again this year. Two German teams will compete for the gold and Kurt Brugger and Wilfried Huber of Italy will also contend for a medal.

Becky Wilczak is the best hope in the women’s event, but she will be up against a dynastic German team. Silke Kraushaar and Sylke Otto will both win medals and Barbara Niedernhuber will try to complete the German sweep.

Nordic combined

This event combines two events that the United States is not good at ? ski jumping and cross-country skiing ? into one event that the United States is not good at.

However, the United States does have a chance to earn a medal this year with Todd Lodwick in the individual. Austria’s Felix Gottwald is the favorite to win both the sprint and the
individual and Samppa Lajunen is a favorite to medal in both and lead Finland to a team gold.

Skeleton

Skeleton is back in the Olympics for the first time since 1948 and, if you know what it is, then you understand why it disappeared. Skeleton is basically the same as luge, except that the athletes go down the track on their stomach and face first.

Jim Shea is a third-generation Olympian and is likely to win a medal, but the favorite to win is fellow American Chris Soule. Switzerland’s Gregor Stahli is also a favorite to medal.

Lee Ann Parsley is the best U.S. hope in the women’s event. Alexandra Coomber is the favorite to win Britain its first winter gold since 1984.

Ski jumping

The U.S. team is extremely young, with three teenagers and only one athlete ? Brian Welch, 30 ? over age 22. Alan Alborn, 21, is the best jumper on the team, but don’t expect him to bring home a medal.

Germany’s Sven Hannawald is a favorite to win gold on at least one of the two hills, and he should medal on both. Adam Malysz is also a favorite to medal on both hills and if he wins a medal, it would be the first for Poland since 1972. Japan’s Kazuyoshi Funaki won gold on the large hill in 1998 and could contend again.

Germany’s Martin Schmitt, Austria’s Martin Hoellwarth and Finland’s Matti Hautamaki are also medal contenders.

Germany, Austria and Finland will win the team medals, but not necessarily in that order.

Snowboarding

Chris Klug may not medal in the parallel giant slalom, but he is one of the best stories at the Olympics. He was near death 18 months ago with a rare liver disease, but a successful transplant saved his life and he was able to qualify for the games. Canada’s Jasey Jay Anderson and Slovenia’s Dejan Kosir are the favorites in the parallel giant slalom.

The U.S. men have a good shot at a medal in the halfpipe. Ross Powers, Danny Kaas and Tommy Czeschin all have a shot at winning a medal. Sweden’s Magnus Sterner is the favorite to win gold.

Rosie Fletcher and Lisa Kosglow are both capable of winning a medal in the parallel giant slalom for the United States. France’s Karin Ruby is the favorite to win gold and Austria’s Doris Guenther is also a medal favorite.

Shannon Dunn is the best U.S. hope in the halfpipe. Germany’s Sabine Wehr-Hasler and Austria’s Nicola Pederzolli are also medal favorites in the halfpipe.

Speedskating

The short track men may win more medals than any other U.S. group. Apolo Anton Ohno is the golden boy of the sport and it’s possible that he could win four gold medals. He will receive fierce competition from China’s Li JiaJun in the 500-meter and from South Korea’s Kim Dong-Sung in the 1,000 and 1,500-meter. Rusty Smith is also capable of winning medals for the United States, but he must skate in competition with the same ability that he uses to consistently clock world record times in training. Smith and Ohno should lead the U.S. to a medal of some sort in the 5,000-meter relay.

The women’s short track will be dominated by China, which has two unrelated skaters named Yang Yang. The Yangs could win as many as five individual medals between them and should lead China to gold in the 3,000-meter relay. Bulgaria’s Evgenia Radanova is also a medal threat in all three individual events.

On the long track, Casey FitzRandolph hopes to finally win a medal. After missing out in 1998 when the equipment changed shortly before the Olympics, FitzRandolph could medal in both the 500 and 1,000-meter races. Derek Parra is probably the best U.S. medal threat, however, and he will compete in the 1,500-meter.

Canada’s Jeremy Witherspoon is the favorite to win gold in both the 500 and 1,000-meter. The Netherlands missed a chance to sweep the 5,000-meter when Gianni Rommi somehow only qualified for the 10,000-meter. Rommi is still a favorite to win the 10,000 and the Netherlands should still take the top two spots in the 5,000.

Jennifer Rodriguez is the best hope for the United States on the women’s side. She is a favorite to medal in both the 1,000 and 1,500-meter. Canada’s Catriona Le May Doan and Germany’s Sabine Volker are both favorites to medal in the 500 and 1,000-meter.

Anni Friesinger is the favorite to win gold in all three middle-long distance races. The German with the pierced navel and tattooed stomach said that she will throw a three-day party if she wins a gold. Fellow German Claudia Pechstein is the biggest threat to that party in each event.



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