Davis is the first speedskater to attempt all five individual distances since Eric Heiden swept the events in 1980. The 27-year-old became the first African-American to win an individual gold medal in the Winter Games with his victory in the 1000m, an event, along with the 1500, which he is heavily favored to win. At a Cup race in December, he shattered his own 1500m world record time by .77 of a second, outskating the competition by more than a second.<br><br><i>For complete galleries of figure skaters, men's hockey players, and U.S. snowboarders to watch, click the "Related Links" below.</i>
2 of 25Jonathan Ferrey/Getty Images
His tendency to be brash and outspoken, which ignited a public spat with teammate Shani Davis in Turin, is unlikely to show itself in Vancouver. Since the 2006 Games, where he collected gold, silver and bronze in the 5000, 10,000 and the 1500, respectively, the Texan has embraced religion, wed and started a family. Hedrick will skate only the 1000, 1500, 5000, and the team pursuit, relying on his strength and technique, though his starts could give him trouble against the breakneck speed of Davis's opening laps.
3 of 25Jasper Juinen/Getty Images
Three-time World Allround Champion Kramer is a household name in Holland where he ranks just below the Dutch soccer team as a national hero. The Sidney Crosby-look alike holds world records in the 5,000 and 10,000 distances as well as the team pursuit. For both individual events he is the favorite for gold, the only shade of Olympic medal he has yet to wear.
4 of 25Martin Rose/Bongarts/Getty Images
After a disappointing showing at Turin (he finished 11th in the 1500 and 19th in the 1000), Morrison has been on track, so to speak, for success in Vancouver. In 2008 he became the world champion in the 1500 and this season he has taken bronze three times in the 1,000 and the 1,500. He will have the support of his older brother Jay, also an elite speedskater, who did not to make the Olympic cut.
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Apolo Anton Ohno
Ohno needs to add only two medals to his five to surpass Bonnie Blair as the most decorated U.S. winter Olympian in history. At his third Winter Games, Ohno, who triumphed in Turin despite injuries, will skate all the individual events plus the medley. Ohno's biggest obstacle in Turin, Korea's Ahn Hyun-Soo, who holds two world records and took gold in three of the four events in 2006, failed to qualify for Vancouver.
6 of 25Carl Yarbrough/SI
Aksel Lund Svindal
Svindal is as diverse of an alpine skier as they come. He's had a world championship podium finish in each of the five alpine disciplines. In 2007, a violent crash in during a training run at Colorado's Birds of Prey threatened his future in the sport when he sustained multiple facial fractures, rib and back injuries, and an 8-inch deep laceration in his abdomen. Svindal comes to Vancouver as a second-time Olympian, seeking his first medal.
7 of 25Alexander Hassenstein/Bongarts/Getty Images
A force on the World Cup circuit, driver Lange has gone 3-for-3 on the Olympic stage. In the midst of a 2008-09 Cup season plagued by team injuries and equipment problems, Lange and his team were unable to defend their 2008 World Championship sweep, finishing fifth in the two-man and taking silver in the four, an event in which Lange has five world championships.
8 of 25Aflo/ Icon SMI
Dubbed "Little Ahn" by the Korean press, the mop-top 23-year-old had two silver medal finishes in 2006 behind superstar teammate Ahn Hyun-Soo, and a gold in the medley--alongside Ahn. In Lee's first year competing at the World Cup level in 2005-06, he finished second overall, behind Ahn. But with Ahn out of the running this year after failing to qualify, look for Lee Ho to make a big name for himself.
9 of 25Doug Benc/Getty Images
At 19, Celski has a distinct recklessness that comes with youth. That aggression nearly put a damper on his Vancouver dreams when, during Olympic Trials in September he crashed into the boards coming out of a turn and severed his left quadriceps muscle with his right skate. The reigning world champion in the 3,000 meter will see his first competition since September when he hits the oval in Vancouver, but he has admitted to feeling hesitant about skating fast.
10 of 25Michael O'Neill/SI
Ryan St. Onge
St Onge, who finished 16th in Turin, is positioning himself for Olympic triumph after winning the men's aerials event at the 2009 Freestyle World Championships. The former ballet-skier plans to unveil a quintuple-twisting triple back somersault (read: three flips with five twists) in Vancouver.
11 of 25Alexander Nemenov/AFP/Getty Images
Ole Einar Bjorndalen
A mainstay on the World Cup and Olympic scene, Bjorndalen comes into his fifth Winter Games after an impressive showing at the 2009 World Championships last February, where he won four golds. He currently needs four medals to surpass countryman Nordic skier Bjoern Daehlie as the most decorated Winter Games athlete; he has nine in four Olympic appearances.
12 of 25Marco Felgenhauer/NordicFocus/Getty Images
The great hope for U.S. Biathlon, in December Burke became the first-ever American biathlete to lead the Biathlon World Cup in points. (Biathlon and Nordic skiing are the only two sports in which the U.S. has never won an Olympic medal.) So far this season, Burke has had five top-eight Cup finishes, including one podium finish in each of the 20k individual race, the 15k pursuit and the mass start events.
13 of 25Nancie Battaglia/SI; Harry How/Getty Images
Olympic mainstay Rahlves retired from alpine competition after his third Olympics in 2006, but couldn't stay away for long. The 36-year-old came out of retirement to try for his first Olympic medal in ski cross--a sport making its debut in Vancouver--having won gold in the event at the 2008 Winter X Games.
14 of 25Dieter Nagl/AFP/Getty Images
Having emerged from a one-year retirement that kept him out of the 2008 World Cup season, Gottwald comes into his fifth Winter Games as the defending champion in the 7.5k sprint and the 4x5k team events. With seven top-5 finishes in his last nine Cup races, Gottwald has also medaled in his last six Olympic starts.
15 of 25Michael O'Neill/SI
Demong is revered by his teammates as one of the hardest workers on Team USA, and that may have something to do with a nightmarish diving accident that almost ended his athletic career. In 2002, Demong dove into a shallow pool, fracturing his skull and some facial bones. His year out of competition, he believes, made him a stronger mental competitor which, along with a world championship gold in 2009, could mean the first ever Nordic combined medal for the USA.
16 of 25Francis Bompard/Agence Zoom, Harry How/Getty Images
It's been four Olympics and zero medals for the 33-year-old Lodwick who retired in March 2006. His two years off gave him the energy he needed to make a comeback, during which he's led the USA to a breakthrough 2009 world championship performance, claiming his first ever world championship gold--two of them-- in the 10k mass start and 10k individual normal hill events. His comeback goals will be fully realized with an Olympic medal, for which he is a serious contender.
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He bears the nickname Il Cannible, but it's the Italian's Olympic success that's truly intimidating: a medal in the past four Games, including gold in Salt Lake City and Turin. But young blood on the luge scene is threatening his dominance. Look for Germany's Felix Loche, who won the single and mixed team world championships in both 2008 and 2009, to put the typically cool Zoggeler on edge.
18 of 25Vincent Jannink/AFP/Getty Images
Having fallen in his only event in Turin, Bøkko will contend for medals in the 1500m, 5000m and 10,000m. Look for him to take a stand against the Netherlands' Sven Kramer to whom he's finished second in both his events at the 2009 World Single Distance Championships and the World Allrounds in 2008 and '09.
19 of 25Cornelius Poppe/AFP/Getty Images
Since bringing Italy its first-ever speedskating medals with two golds and a bronze in Turin, Fabris has been consistent as a top contender on the World Cup scene, but hasn't had either a first place finish or a world title, collecting seven silvers and a bronze in five world championship disciplines. Victory at Vancouver is essential to bring the sport back into the national consciousness of Italy, which is in need of an adequate training venue.
20 of 25Philippe Montigny/Agence Zoom/Getty Images
In January, Turin 15k classic silver medalist Bauer became the first man to win two Tour de Ski championships. On the last leg of the 10-day event, he rallied to overcome Norway's triple 2009 World Championship gold medalist and probable World Cup champion Petter Northug. The 32-year-old continues to have success on the Cup circuit, but has yet to win an Olympic or world championship gold.
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At 19, rising star Schlierenzauer will shoulder high expectations for his Olympic debut. He is coming off a 2008-'09 breakthrough campaign, with the World Cup title and two medals in the world championships, among his many successes. There is reason to believe he could continue his domination of the sport in Vancouver: two of his 2009 Cup wins came at Whistler, the Olympic venue.
22 of 25Kazuhiro Nogi/AFP/Getty Images
Following a dismal also-ran campaign leading up to and in Turin, Ammann is finally showing signs of his old self, the one that rose through relative obscurity to grab two golds in Salt Lake City. Since 2007, the skier with the Harry Potter likeness has collected world championship medals in gold, silver and bronze, closing out his 2008-'09 season with the second highest point total.
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Reigning moguls Olympic champion Begg-Smith was continuing his dominant run with World Cup titles in 2006, '07, and 08 until a torn right ACL ended his 2008-'09 campaign. He is recovering nicely, with three wins and two second place finishes in five straight Cup events. But Frenchman Guilbaut Colas who has twice upstaged Begg-Smith in recent competition could threaten a repeat gold medal performance for the Canadian-born Australian.
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Remembered best for his '06 Olympic flameout, Miller still remains a snow savant who "un-retired'' in September and has steadily improved throughout the World Cup season. He's a threat to win or crash in all five races.
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Chances are you'll hear the 27-year-old Duluth, Minn., resident before you see him. As the skip of the men's team, which could threaten for a medal, he determines the shot placement and exhorts his sweepers by yelling at them from the bottom of his diaphragm. Incidentally, it's a skill that also comes in handy in his day job as a bartender back home.
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