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Sochi Olympics: Team USA medal predictions by Examiner.com

Shani Davis is targeting a three-medal performance in Sochi to lead Team USA
Photo by Atsushi Tomura/Getty Images

With a record-setting 230-athlete contingent, the U.S. Olympic Team is stoked to once more win the overall podium count in the 2014 Winter Olympics. But will this elite talent be able to pull off this goal, and eclipse its historic 37-medal haul from the Vancouver Olympics?

This challenge is a tough one, with Lindsey Vonn and Evan Lysacek out due to injuries and some veterans like Gretchen Bleiler and Simon Dumont upstaged by younger athletes. Across 15 sport disciplines and among 98 events, a whopping 294 medals are up for grabs at the Sochi Olympics that officially began today.

Here’s how I see it playing out, ranging from those disciplines that are least likely for medals, to the slam-dunk disciplines where medals are gimmes for Team USA. I also list the athletes who I believe are sure bets and have the best chances to score medals – that make up my predicted medal count of 31 podiums. And, I also throw a bone to the dark horses who may also seal the deal, like Andrew Weibrecht did in the Vancouver Olympics super-G race.

Biathlon: 0 medals

Dark Horse: Tim Burke

Curling: 0 medals

Dark Horse: Women

Luge: 0 medals

Dark Horse: Erin Hamlin, Team Relay,

Nordic Combined: 0 medals

Dark Horse: Team

Cross Country Skiing: 1 medal

Best Chance: Kikkan Randall

Figure Skating: 1 medal

Sure Bet: Meryl Davis and Charlie White

Dark Horse: Gracie Gold

Skeleton: 1 medal

Sure Bet: Noelle Pikus-Pace

Dark Horse: Matt Antoine

Ski Jumping: 1 medal

Best Chance: Sarah Hendrickson

Dark Horse: Lindsey Van

Ice Hockey: 2 medals

Sure Bet: Women

Best Chance: Men

Short Track Skating: 2 medals

Sure Bet: JR Celski

Best Chance: Men’s Relay

Alpine Skiing: 3 medals

Sure Bet: Ted Ligety, Mikaela Shiffrin

Best Chance: Bode Miller

Dark Horse: Julia Mancuso

Bobsled: 4 medals

Sure Bet: Steve Holcomb (2), Elana Meyers

Best Chance: Jamie Greubel

Long Track Speedskating: 5 medals

Sure Bet: Shani Davis (2), Heather Richardson

Best Chance: Brittany Bowe, Men’s Team Pursuit

Snowboarding: 5 medals

Sure Bet: Shaun White, Kelly Clark, Jamie Anderson

Best Chance: Lindsey Jacobellis, Hannah Teter

Dark Horse: Nick Baumgartner, Arielle Gold

Freestyle Skiing: 6 medals

Sure Bet: Hannah Kearney, Nick Goepper

Best Chance: Maddie Bowman, Patrick Deneen, Devin Logan, Dave Wise

Dark Horse: Keri Herman, Heather McPhie, Torin Yater-Wallace, Dave Wise

Other pundits predict better results: Yahoo clocks in at 33, while the optimistic Associated Press estimates a whopping 42 medals.

Subscribe to all my articles as I continue my year-long coverage of the Sochi Olympics on-site next week.