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Gracie Gold, figure skating (United States)
Poised to be the breakout star of Sochi and the new face of American figure skating (prepare for pun-tastic headlines), the 18-year-old had a statement win at the U.S. Championships in January, posting national records in both the short skate and the free skate en route to the title. Fun fact: Her twin sister, Carly, is also a figure skater.
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Mikaela Shiffrin, alpine skiing (United States)
With Lindsey Vonn out of the Olympics, the 18-year-old is the heir apparent to her ski queen throne. Shiffrin has dominated the slalom circuit since her World Cup debut in 2011, when, at 16, she became the youngest American to win an alpine title. The reigning slalom world champion, she has won seven World Cup crowns and the season World Cup title in 2013.
3 of 16 Doug Pensinger/Getty Images
Shaun White, snowboarding (United States)
The Flying Tomato is gunning for the first three-peat in Olympic snowboarding in the halfpipe, where he will likely whip out his latest trick, the frontside double cork 1440. (Lest we forget, he dropped the then-groundbreaking double McTwist 1260 on his victory lap in Vancouver.) Should he do it, he'd also be the first American man to three-peat in any sport at the Winter Games. White was also slated to compete in slopestyle, a new Olympic event, in which he's a five-time gold medalist at the Winter X Games, but withdrew to focus on the pipe three-peat.
4 of 16 Song Kyung-Seok-Pool/Getty Images
Kim Yuna, figure skating (South Korea)
The reigning Olympic champ took the 2011-12 season off, but didn't miss a beat in her return: She won her second world title last year and two more South Korea national titles. Kim, who has never finished off the podium in her career, would be the first figure skater to defend an Olympic title since Katarina Witt in 1988. She plans to retire after Sochi.
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Meryl Davis and Charlie White, ice dancing (United States)
Since claiming silver in Vancouver, Davis and White have established themselves as the ones to beat. They are the six-time reigning U.S. champions, five-time reigning Grand Prix champions, four-time reigning Skate America champions and two-time world champions. Not only that, but they hold the world records in the short dance, free dance and combined scores.
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Kelly Clark, snowboarding (United States)
The most decorated snowboarder, male or female, in history, Clark, fresh off her fourth straight Winter X Games gold, is headed to her fourth Olympics after taking gold in the halfpipe in 2002 and bronze in 2010 (she finished fourth in Torino). She has only upped her game since Vancouver, becoming the first woman to land a 1080 in competition in 2011 and winning 16 straight contests in 2012.
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Evgeni Plushenko, figure skating (Russia)
Plushenko, who underwent back surgery last spring, made Russia's Olympic team just under the wire last month, taking its sole men's spot over younger compatriot and Russian nationals champ Maxim Kovtun (Plushenko finished second). The 31-year-old, who won silver in 2002, gold in 2006 and "platinum" in 2010, could become the most decorated figure skater in Olympic history if he medals in the individual and the new team events. (Swede Gillis Grafstrom holds the record with four medals.)
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Sara Takanashi, ski jumping (Japan)
The 17-year-old holds a record 19 World Cup victories in women's ski jumping, which was finally accepted into the Olympics in 2011 after years of protests. She's also a world champion in the mixed event and a silver medalist in the individual event, having been edged out by her chief rival, American Sarah Hendrickson.
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Shani Davis, long track speed skating (United States)
Davis, who was the first black athlete to win individual gold at a Winter Olympics, is seeking to be the first person to three-peat in the 1000 meters. Like Shaun White, he'd be the first American man to win three golds in any sport at a Winter Games (White will get a crack at it first a day before Davis). Davis, the world record holder in the 1000 and 1500 meters, will also compete in the latter, where he's a two-time defending silver medalist.
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Prince Hubertus von Hohenlohe, alpine skiing (Mexico)
Von Hohenlohe, competing in his sixth and likely final Olympics as Mexico's sole representative once again, won't medal in the slalom, but he'll undoubtedly win best dressed. That's because he'll be racing in a skintight mariachi uniform. The 55-year-old descendant of German nobility, who's a pop star and photographer on the side, says you can call him "the Mariachi Olympic Prince."
11 of 16 Gabe L'Heureux/ Getty Images
Mark McMorris, snowboarding (Canada)
A huge favorite in slopestyle, McMorris, the first person to land a backside triple cork 1440, won back-to-back titles at the Winter X Games in 2012 and 2013. He seemed to be on his way to a three-peat last month before falling on his third run and fracturing a rib, but he vows to be ready for Sochi.
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Lolo Jones, bobsled (United States)
The controversial hurdler, who failed to medal in Beijing and London, will make her Winter Olympics debut as a brakeman. Jones, who took up bobsledding after Beijing, has already courted drama after being named to the Olympic team over more experienced pushers. Fellow track star Lauryn Williams is also on the bobsled team, making them the ninth and 10th Americans to compete in both the Summer and Winter Olympics. Only 128 athletes in total have competed in both.
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Patrick Chan, figure skating (Canada)
Chan has been virtually unbeatable since finishing fifth in Vancouver. The seven-time reigning Canadian champ claimed his third consecutive world title last year and won all but four major international events in the past four years (he got three silvers and a bronze instead). Now that he's mastered the quad, Canada may very well be looking at its first men's Olympic figure skating champ.
14 of 16 Filippo Monteforte/AFP/Getty Images
Viktor Ahn, short track speed skating (Russia)
Formerly known as Ahn Hyun-Soo, Ahn, a three-time gold medalist in Torino, left South Korea for Russia in 2011 due to lack of support from his native country and chose Viktor as his new name because it means winner. Ahn, who did not qualify for Vancouver because of injuries, will aim to put Russia on the map in the typically South Korea-dominated short track, where Russia has only ever won one medal — a bronze as part of the Unified Team in 1992.
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David Wise, freestyle skiing (United States)
Dubbed The Undude, Wise is the heavy favorite to win the inaugural gold in the ski halfpipe after collecting his third straight Winter X Games title. He's also the reigning world champion and is coming off a stellar 2013, during which he also won his sixth national title and the Grand Prix finals.
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Lindsey Jacobellis, snowboarding (United States)
Will the third time be the charm for Jacobellis? The snowboard cross star, who infamously fell after showboating and settled for silver in Torino and got disqualified in the semifinals in Vancouver, is chasing the elusive Olympic gold medal that is missing from her trophy case. She missed nearly two years after tearing her ACL in January 2012, but came back with a vengeance, winning her eighth Winter X Games gold last month.