photo courtesy of NY Daily News

By Mark Dourmashkin ’14Staff Writer

Some of the best athletes in the world will take stage in Sochi, Russia for the XXII Winter Olympic games Friday, Feb. 7th. The last time Russia hosted the Olympics games it was still the Soviet Union and the United States, among other nations, did not participate. Later this week, Sochi will be the home for the 22nd winter games with 88 different nations participating with over 2,500 athletes combined.

After winning the overall metal count with 37 medals at the 2010 Vancouver Winter Games, the United States team will look to repeat their dominating performance in Russia.

The United States will bring a record total of 230 athletes to this years’ Sochi Winter Olympic games. The United States’ Olympic team is headlined by skier Bode Miller, who will be competing in his fifth Winter Olympic games, and needs three medals to tie the most by any American. Miller’s teammate, Todd Lodwick, who competes in Nordic combined, will become the first American to compete in six Olympic games.

A familiar face on the Olympic women’s ski team, Lindsey Vonn, will miss out this year. Vonn, a four-time World Cup champion, will not be competing this Winter because she re-injured her right knee while crashing during a training session in November.

With Lindsey Vonn out, all eyes will be on eighteen-year-old skiing sensation Mikaela Shiffrin. Shiffrin will compete in the giant salmon and heads to the Sochi Olympics as the reigning world champion and World Cup title-holder in slalom.

The women’s figure skating team will be headlined by Gracie Gold, who won gold at the 2014 U.S. Figure Skating Championships, and Polina Edmunds, who a silver at the World Championships. Both will be making their first appearances at the Olympics this year.

The United States has not had much success with cross-country skiing at the Winter Olympic games, winning only won one medal in the last 38 years, but Kikkan Randle gives the United States a rare chance at cross-country gold.

After losing to Canada in sudden-death overtime at the 2010 Vancouver Olympic games, the United States, among 10 other nations, will look to defeat Canada, the defending Winter Olympic men’s ice hockey champions.

The USA men’s hockey team will be lead by Buffalo Sabres goaltender, Ryan Miller. He is joined by his fellow NHL star Patrick Kane, who has been one of the top scorers this season and has a Stanley Cup MVP under his belt. USA will face stiff competition against the world’s best, including the 2013 World Champions Sweden, the home team Russia, and the defending 2010 Winter Olympics champ Canada.

Another star to watch includes women’s hockey superstar, Hilary Knight. After losing to Canada in the gold medal game at the 2010 winter Olympics, Knight and the USA women’s team are primed to compete with the best in the world.

After earning a record 37 medals at the last Winter Olympic games, the United States athletes are heading to Sochi with confidence. The United States, including the rest of the participating nations, has been well aware of the outside attention drawn to the games. With all the speculation of a terror threat, overspending and anti-gay legislation, the center of attention is being drawn away from the athletes and the upcoming winter Olympic games.

However, once the ceremony commences on Friday, the world will be watching some of the world’s finest athletes compete against one another.