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)

Optimist (1 gold, 3 medals):  In some order, Noelle Pikus-Pace and Katie Uhlaender match the 1-2 finish of 2002.  John Daly, whose 4th in the 2013 Sochi race matched his World Cup career best, snags a medal.

Pessimist (1 medal):  Either Pikus-Pace or Uhlaender makes the podium.

*Luge (0)

*Optimist (0):  Erin Hamlin, the 2009 world champion on home ice, or Julia Clukey would surprise just by making the top five.

Pessimist (0): No one cracks the top eight.

*Short Track Speed Skating (6 medals)

Optimist (1 gold, 4 medals):  J.R. Celski looks as he did early in the 2012-13 season, wins 500 and gets medal in 1,500.  Apolo Ohno returns to help win relay medal.  Lana Gehring recaptures her 2011-12 form and gets a medal in 1,500.

Pessimist (0):  Burdened by lingering effects of the controversies that shredded the team last season, leaving it with no medals at the 2013 worlds.

*Long Track Speedskating (1 gold, 4 medals)

Optimist (3 gold, 6 medals):  In likely his Olympic last hurrah, Shani Davis wins a third straight 1,000 gold, a third straight 1,500 medal and leads the U.S. to gold in team pursuit.  Brian Hansen scores bronze in 1,500.  Heather Richardson wins the 1,000, and Brittany Bowe gets a medal in either the 1,000 or 1,500.

Pessimist (3 medals):  Davis gets a medal in the 1,000.  Richardson and Bowe each win medal.

Corrections: An earlier version of this story contained erroneous information about the style of the cross-country skiing sprint events and had skeleton racer Noelle Pikus-Pace identified as Nicole Pikus-Pace.  The individual event is freestyle, the team event classic style.


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