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United States on track for lowest Winter Olympics medal total in 20 years

UPDATED: Sat., Feb. 17, 2018

United States’ Lindsey Vonn reacts in the finish area after competing in the women’s super-G  in Jeongseon, South Korea, on Saturday. (Christophe Ena / AP)
United States’ Lindsey Vonn reacts in the finish area after competing in the women’s super-G in Jeongseon, South Korea, on Saturday. (Christophe Ena / AP)
Los Angeles Times

PYEONGCHANG, South Korea – It’s the halfway point in these Winter Games and time to look at how the U.S. is doing. And the optics are not good. Based on expected results, the U.S. should finish with between 19 and 23 total medals, its lowest total in 20 years.

It’s probably not a breakdown in how the different governing bodies care and train their athletes but more a case of some of the athletes just not living up to expectations.

The Alpine skiing team has been disappointing with, through Saturday, no men’s medals. Mikaela Shiffrin and Lindsey Vonn both failed to medal in women’s disciplines you thought they should. Nathan Chen’s disastrous short program compromised a medal for him despite a great long program. Lindsey Jacobellis, the best-known women’s snowboarder, failed to hit the podium and gain some redemption.

So, with a week to go, how will the United States add to its nine medals it had headed into Sunday morning?

Alpine: Could pick up two medals with Vonn in the downhill and Shiffrin in the combined. (2)

Bobsled: The women are likely to pick up a medal in the women’s race with Elana Meyers Taylor, but Jamie Greubel Poser could sneak in. (1)

Figure skating: Alex and Maia Shibutani will likely win a medal in ice dance, but that’s it. (1)

Freestyle: The men’s halfpipe is likely to get at least two medals between David Wise, Torin Yater-Wallace and Alex Ferreira. Maybe sweep the podium, but that’s being greedy. Gus Kenworthy could hit in the slopestyle and Brita Sigourney or Maddie Bowman could medal in the women’s halfpipe. These are sports in which things can easily go wrong … or right. (4)

Hockey: U.S. women likely lose the gold to Canada. Can’t imagine them not medaling. Not so good outlook for the men. (1)

Snowboard: Look for Chris Corning on the men’s side and Jamie Anderson on the women’s side to hit in the Big Air competition. Should do nothing in parallel giant slalom. (2)

Speedskating: Joey Mantia will possibly medal in the men’s mass start, which would be the only U.S. medal in this sport. (1)

Wild cards: Someone unexpected could medal and someone expected to medal won’t. It all evens out.

Blanked sports the rest of the way: biathlon, cross-country skiing, curling, Nordic combined, skeleton, short-track speedskating.

That gets 21 medals, give or take a few.

So, how does that shape up against the past?

2014-Sochi (28); 2010-Vancouver (37); 2006-Turin (26); 2002-Salt Lake City (34); 1998-Nagano (13).

Now, it would not surprise if the United States Olympic Committee were to say that the medal total was close to expectations. But if that happens, those in the front row of the news briefing should be wary they don’t get poked by officials’ noses growing at an alarming rate.

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