The US has virtually guaranteed that it will finish first in the overall Winter Olympics medal count for the first time since 1932, and only the second time ever. The US holds a 34-27 lead on Germany entering the last full day of competition today.
It’s also now certain that the US will break its record for most-ever medals won in a Winter Olympics (34), set in 2002. Team USA is in the men’s hockey final Sunday, guaranteeing at least one more silver.
What remains uncertain is whether the US will be able to tie or surpass its record for most gold medals in a Winter Olympics (10), also set in 2002. It currently has eight.
Why are those funky Vancouver medals so big?
Here is a brief look at American chances in medal events for Saturday, Day 16.
Curling (men): Canada is the strong favorite to pick up its ninth gold here – succeeding where the Canadian women surprisingly fell short Friday. They face the fantastic pants of Norway. The bronze-medal match pits Sweden, who curls like it were a sport in the X Games – all daring and risk – against Switzerland.
Scoring explained in seven easy steps
• American medal chances: none
Cross-country (women’s 30 km mass start): Two racers to watch: Justyna Kowalczyk could win Poland’s first-ever gold (or silver) in cross-country skiing, and Marit Bjoergen of Norway has already won four medals here, though the 30 km is twice as long as the next-longest race here.
• American medal chances: none
Speedskating (men’s and women’s team pursuit): Coming from nowhere, the US men are already qualified for the final against the Canadians guaranteeing them at least silver. The Canadians enter as the favorite, however.
Let the US-Canada rumble begin!
The women, perhaps even more surprisingly, defeated the strong Canadian team to advance to the semifinal. They are decided underdogs against the Germans in their semifinal but could take bronze with a victory over the loser of the Japan/Poland semifinal.
• American medal chances: (men) guaranteed; (women) fairly good
• American medal chances: slim (Chris Klug)
Alpine skiing (slalom): The story here is that the Austrian men are looking to win their first medal of any color at the Vancouver Olympics – a remarkable shutout. They are a strong favorite to medal here, with three slalom skiers in the top 6 of the World Cup standings, including current World Cup overall leader Benjamin Raich.
Frenchman Julien Lizeroux, Croatian Ivica Kostelic, and Swiss Silvan Zurbriggen are also favorites. America will look to Ted Ligety and Bode Miller as decent medal chances. Miller skis so fast and close to the edge that if he finishes, he could well medal.
• American medal chances: fair (Ted Ligety, Bode Miller)
Bobsled (four man): Steven Holcomb piloted the USA 1 sled to a 0.40 lead in heats 1 and 2, setting track records on both runs. As the top-ranked four-man pilot in the world, he’s in pole position to win gold. Behind him are Canada 1 and Germany 1.
Just how long has it been since the US took gold in four-man boblsed?
• American medal chances: very good (USA 1)