10:12 AM EDT, April 6, 2013
The United States racked up a record 37 medals, including nine gold, at the 2010 Winter Olympics.
With the pre-Olympic World Cup and world championship winter sports season over for U.S. athletes, it’s a good time to look at the U.S. chances for the 2014 Winter Games in Sochi.
A glass-very-full view shows Team USA hauling home 52 medals, including 20 gold.
The glass-nearly-drained view shows just 22 medals, with 3 gold.
While the numbers will likely fall in between those estimates, both predictions are based on real possibilities.
You can see the evidence as the optimist and the pessimist weigh in, with the 2010 totals in parentheses after each sport:
*Alpine Skiing (2 gold, 8 medals)
Optimist (3 gold, 9 medals): Lindsey Vonn comes back from knee surgery to win second straight downhill and get medal in Super-G. Reigning world champion Mikaela Shiffrin wins the slalom. Julia Mancuso get a medal in either Super-G or combined. Another DH medal comes from Stacey Cook, Alice McKennis or Leanne Smith. Ted Ligety wins giant slalom and gets medals in Super-G and combined. Bode Miller returns from his year off to rustle up a medal.
Pessimist (1 gold, 4 medals): Vonn, not the same dominant speed skier, manages a medal in downhill. (A glass-completely-empty pessimist, of course, would say she doesn’t recover in time for the Olympics.) Ligety wins GS and one other medal. With Marlies Schild fully recovered from injury, Shiffrin drops lower on slalom podium.
*Nordic Combined: (1 gold, 4 medals)
Optimist (1 gold, 2 medals): U.S. wins the team event. One of the 2010 individual Olympic medalists, Bill Demong and Johnny Spillane, recaptures that form to reach the podium.
Pessimist (1 medal): U.S. gets a bronze in the team event.
*Cross-country Skiing (0)
Optimist: (1 gold, 2 medals): Reigning World Cup overall champion Kikkan Randall gets to ski her specialty in individual sprint (freestyle) at this Olympics and wins gold. Reigning team sprint world champions Randall and Jessica Diggins, who won that title in freestyle, find enough mojo in classic style to win a medal.
Pessimist (1 medal): Randall wins medal in individual sprint.
*Ski Jumping (0)
Optimist (1 gold): Sarah Hendrickson win’s the inaugural Olympic women’s jumping competition.
Pessimist (1 medal): Hendrickson takes second to Sara Takanashi of Japan.
*Freestyle Skiing: (1 gold, 4 medals)
Optimist (2 gold, 7 medals): Hannah Kearney wins moguls gold, with Heather McPhie getting medal. Medal for Patrick Deneen in moguls. Emily Cook back from injury-riddled 2013 for aerials medal. David Wise and Torin Yater-Wallace 1-2 (in some order) in halfpipe. John Teller sneaks medal in ski cross.
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.
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.
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.
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.
*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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