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American headliners take center stage today

Associated Press Apolo Anton Ohno has U.S. record-tying six career medals. (FILE Associated Press)
Associated Press Apolo Anton Ohno has U.S. record-tying six career medals. (FILE Associated Press)

VANCOUVER, British Columbia – The United States has already won more medals than it did the last time the Olympics were in Canada – and the best may be still to come.

Of course, at the Vancouver Games, nothing is guaranteed.

Lindsey Vonn, Shaun White, Shani Davis and Apolo Anton Ohno are all competing Wednesday in what is shaping up as the most intriguing day so far for the U.S. Those four Americans had high hopes coming in to the 2010 Games, although it’s been anything but smooth sailing for a couple of them.

NBC will showcase the four in prime time Wednesday. Vonn is skiing in the downhill, and White will compete in the halfpipe. Davis will try for gold in 1,000-meter speedskating, and Ohno races in preliminary short-track heats.

“I’ve given up a lot in my life and my career to be here,” Vonn said. “I hope it all pays off.”

Even after being shut out Tuesday, the U.S. has won eight medals so far, one behind first-place Germany. The Americans won only six medals at the 1988 Winter Games in Calgary.

Now, the stage is set for some of the headliners of these Olympics, but will they live up to the hype?

Vonn has endured the most adversity, battling an injured shin. She hasn’t competed yet because of uncooperative weather that delayed some Alpine events, so it’s hard to say how she’ll fare. Today’s downhill is her top event.

“I was just trying to fight my way down,” Vonn said after training Monday. “I know I can grit my teeth and do it.”

Davis finished 12th in the 5,000, nearly 14 seconds behind winner Sven Kramer.

White has been working on the Double McTwist 1260, a move that requires him to pack 31/2 spins inside of two head-over-heels flips.

Aside from that, White’s been a bit coy about his planned run.

Ohno has already won a medal at these Olympics, crossing the finish line in second place in the short track 1,500 when two South Koreans took each other out in a crash on the final turn. That was his sixth career medal, tying Bonnie Blair for the U.S. Winter Games record.

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