Hockey: U.S. plays Canada for gold
The on-ice rivalry between the United States and Canada has crossed gender lines and is one of the most highly anticipated storylines of the Winter Olympics.
The men’s gold medal game at the 2010 Games in Vancouver was one of the greatest games ever played (dare we say better than the “Miracle on Ice” performance of 1980?). Sydney Crosby’s overtime goal gave Canada a thrilling victory in front of his home fans — will the Americans get revenge in Sochi?
Women’s hockey has become another must-see event, with the Americans and Canadians getting into all-out brawls in recent memory. The intensity level will be through the roof in Sochi.
Figure skating: Evan Lysacek, Yevgeny Plushenko renew rivalry
These two men bring the term Cold War to another level. Lysacek, of Los Angeles, beat the Russian for gold in Vancouver by a little more than a point. Thing is, Plushenko skated a more difficult program because it included two quad jumps. Lysacek did not attempt a quad and was ruled to have skated better, despite the lower difficulty of his performance. A controversy ensued and Plushenko was incensed. Plushenko, who won silver in 2002 and gold in 2006, is trying to qualify for Sochi after undergoing back surgery in January. Lysacek is also fighting for a spot in the Olympics. Neither would likely be considered a gold-medal favorite, but their rivalry is the best in the sport.
Speed skating: Sven Kramer, coach make up for Vancouver blunder
It was one of the most heartbreaking moments of Vancouver: watching Gerard Kemkers during Kramer’s 10,000m race. The coach mistakenly waved his charge to the inside lane midway through the race, which had a disastrous result. Kramer kept skating, and a fixed camera on Kemkers showed the moment he realized what he had done. The Dutchman would have won the gold medal but instead was disqualified. He’s been the world’s best distance skater for years and will be favored to win gold in Sochi. Here’s hoping for no lane-changing gaffes.
Bobsled: Lolo Jones finally gets her medal
Jones has a tumultuous relationship with the Olympics. In 2008, she was seconds away from winning the 100m hurdles before clipping a hurdle and finishing seventh. A year later, she fell during the U.S. Championships and did not qualify for the World Championships.
At the London Games, Jones performed well but ultimately took fourth. There was plenty of attention off the track, too, as she gave a tearful interview where she discussed criticism she faced. Jones made the switch to bobsled later in 2012 and found immediate success — she finished second, along with driver Jazmine Fenlator, in her first World Cup race. She capped her season by winning a gold medal at the world championships in the mixed team event.
If Jones makes the Sochi squad and earns a spot on the podium, it will be one of the more memorable moments of the 2014 Games.
Figure skating: Gracie Gold makes good on her name
This U.S. figure skater, who calls Chicago home, is a headline writer’s dream. And if she wins the ladies title in Sochi, admittedly a long shot, editors across the world will have a field day with her name.
Gold was runner-up to Ashley Wagner at the 2013 U.S. Championships before parting ways with her coach in August. She’s now working with Frank Carroll, who happens to coach Lysacek. So get ready for some creative and corny headlines.