By J. Darin Darst
Every two years I take a nice break from college football and really get involved in the Olympics. Usually, the Summer Games are more exciting than the Winter Games, but I still enjoy the two-week event.
The Olympics provide us with so many intriguing storylines and features on athletes, but here are the five that I will be keeping my eye on the most:
1. Shani Davis: Forget the fact that Davis had a feud with Stephen Colbert last year (Davis called the comedian a jerk) and now he has a spat with US Speedskating over entering the team event. The real story is Davis is one of the best speed skaters in the world and holds the world records in both the 1,000-meter and 1,500-meter races. In the 2006 Olympics, Davis became the first African-American athlete to win a gold medal in an individual event, but this time around will try to become the first man since Canada's Gaetan Boucher in 1984 to pull off the 1,000/1,500 double.
2. Women's Figure Skating: Kim Yu-na vs. Rachel Flatt: Women's Figure Skating is the darling of the Olympics and this year is no exception. The finals are always the most-watched event of the Winter Games and should be once again (Feb. 25 at 8 p.m. ET). Flatt won the U.S. Championship, but lost to Korea's Yu-na at the Skate America Grand Prix last year by 15.07 points. Both women should medal, but the question is who gets gold? Keep an outside shot on 16-year-old Mirai Nagasu, who could crash the party.
3. Lindsey Vonn and Bode Miller: Vonn is the best female skier in U.S. history, but a shin injury might cost her a chance at an Olympic medal. Vonn was in the 2002, 2004 and 2006 Winter Games but has never medaled. This was supposed to finally be her year, but now she has to tackle this injury. We will know soon if she can ski or not because her first event is Sunday in the Super Combined. As for Miller, here is a guy who has so much talent, but can't seem to keep his head straight. He attempted to win five medals at the 2006 Olympics, but walked away with zero. He was disqualified in the Combined event and earned a DNF in the Super G and Slalom. Miller is back again and will compete in all five skiing events, this time hoping to earn some hardware.
4. Men's Hockey: We know the women's gold medal will come down to Canada or the United States, but the men's event is going to be great. Canada and Russia are the favorites with the United States having an outside shot to medal. With Sidney Crosby, Jarome Iginla and Martin Brodeur representing Team Canada, it would be a major disappointment in the home team wasn't playing for the gold medal. Russia meanwhile features Ilya Kovalchuk, Alexander Ovechkin and Evgeni Malkin. Canada plays Team USA on Feb. 21, while the gold medal will be handed out Feb. 28.
5. Shaun White and Lindsey Jacobellis: All the U.S. snowboarders are ones to watch, but these two definitely stand out. White, aka "The Flying Tomato", will be looking for another gold medal in the halfpipe. White earned a 46.8 out of 50 at the 2006 Olympic games and a record 49.50 at the U.S. Grand Prix. Can White earn a perfect score? We will find out on Feb. 17. The story on Jacobellis is simple -- she was dominating the Snowboard Cross race until the second-to-last jump, where a small hot-dogging move cost her gold. She ended up falling, recovering just in time to earn the silver. She will seek redemption this time ... and a gold medal.