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Sochi medal count a mystery to U.S. Olympic Committee executives

October 01, 2013|By Helene Elliott
  • Skier Lindsey Vonn helped the United States win 37 medals at the 2010 Vancouver Winter Olympics. How many will the U.S. win at Sochi next year?
Skier Lindsey Vonn helped the United States win 37 medals at the 2010 Vancouver… (Wally Skalij / Los Angeles…)

PARK CITY, Utah — The Team USA Media Summit has featured lots of optimistic talk about the medal prospects for U.S. athletes at the Sochi Olympics in February, and with good reason. Based on their performances in recent international events, U.S. athletes in a wide range of disciplines should be represented on the medal stand.

But getting an estimated medal count from U.S. Olympic Committee executives seemed as difficult Tuesday as going down the track in a bobsled, landing a quadruple toe loop jump in figure skating, or pulling off a switch-double-corkscrew maneuver in snowboarding.

Alan Ashley, chief of sports performance for the USOC,  smiled when the question was posed to him Tuesday during the Media Summit.

“That’s a very popular question with our board, as well,” he said.

U.S. athletes won 37 medals at the 2010 Vancouver Games, the most won by a U.S. delegation at a Winter Games. Nine of those medals were gold, 15 silver, and 13 bronze. That was a dramatic increase over the U.S. total at Turin, Italy (9-9-7), and a slight increase over Salt Lake City (10-13-11), where U.S. athletes had home-continent advantage.

Ashley wouldn’t give a projected medal total but said all indications are that U.S. Olympians will do well at Sochi, Russia.

“We have a great group of athletes that’s starting to coalesce toward bringing our best in Sochi,” he said. “I think we’re going to have a very strong team…. I’m confident we’re in the right place.”

That all sounded fine, but Ashley might have to come up with a more precise answer soon. Larry Probst, chairman of the USOC, indicated that the potential medal haul is uppermost in the minds of many USOC executives.

“I’m hoping to get a much more definitive answer to that question next week at our board meeting,” he said.

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