High or low: Two views of U.S. medal hopes for 2014 Winter Games

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Shaun White is after a third straight Olympic snowboard gold.   (Doug Pensinger/Getty Images)

Shaun White is after a third straight Olympic snowboard gold. (Doug Pensinger / Getty Images / February 1, 2013)

Pessimist (2 gold, 4 medals):  Kearney and one of the pipe guys win.  Deneen and other pipe guy get medals.

*Snowboarding (2 gold, 5 medals)

Optimist: (3 gold, 7 medals): Shaun White wins third straight halfpipe gold and gets medal in new slopestyle event.  Louie Vito or Scotty Lago gets pipe medal.  Kelly Clark or Arielle Gold score win and medal in pipe.  Seth Wescott takes third straight boardercross gold.  Lindsey Jacobellis back on SBX podium after 8-year gap.

Pessimist (3 medals):  At 27 in Sochi, age catches up to White, who gets just one medal.  Women get one halfpipe medal.  Wescott on podium.

*Biathlon (0)

Optimist (1 medal):  Tim Burke, silver medalist at 2013 worlds, breaks through for first U.S. medal in sport.

Pessimist (0):  Same old, same old, although Burke does improve on best-ever U.S. individual finish (9th).

*Figure Skating (1 gold, 2 medals)

Optimist (2 gold, 4 medals): 2010 silver medalists Meryl Davis and Charlie White win ice dance.  Reigning champion Evan Lysacek gets healthy, gives another of his remarkably consistent performances and scrapes out a bronze.  Ashley Wagner returns to her fall 2012 form or Gracie Gold finds the consistency she needs to snag a medal.  U.S. wins new team event.

Pessimist (2 medals):  Davis-White finish second to longtime rivals and reigning champions Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir of Canada.  U.S. gets medal in team event.

*Hockey (2 medals)

Optimist (2 gold):  U.S. men win their first title since 1980 Miracle on Ice; women take their first since 1998.

Pessimist (1 medal):  U.S. men lose in bronze-medal match.  Women finish second to Canada again.

*Curling (0)

Optimist (1 medal):  After finishing fourth in recent world championships and 10th at 2010 Winter Games, the women get bronze – first U.S. women’s curling medal.

Pessimist (0 medals):  The U.S. men, ninth at the worlds, need to make the top two in a "last-chance" qualifier in December to earn an Olympic spot.

*Bobsled (1 gold, 2 medals)

Optimist (3 medals):  Elana Meyers, who won bronze as a pusher in 2010, drives to a medal this time.  Steve Holcomb, reigning 4-man champion driver, gets medals in 2- and 4-man.

*Pessimist (1 medal): Holcomb can’t get out of rut he was in during second half of the 2012-13 season, but Meyers comes through.

*Skeleton (0)

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