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Kathleen Horgan is a contributing writer to The Hudsucker. Specializing in marketing and communications, she currently works at a top sports marketing agency. She is eagerly awaiting her acceptance letter from Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. Follow Kathleen on Twitter at @KathleenHorgan.

Countdown to Sochi 2014

The 2014 Olympic Winter Games are one year away, and host city Sochi, Russia is scrambling to complete construction on event facilities in time for the Games. Though competition starts on Thursday, February 6, the Games will officially kick off with the Opening Ceremony on Friday, February 7 with the competition coming to a close on Sunday, February 23.

The Sochi Winter Olympics is set to be the most expensive Olympics to date with a price tag of $50 billion, a far cry from the initial estimates of $19 billion. According to Russian politician Boris Nemtsov, the cost of the Sochi games is higher than that of all previous winter Olympics combined.

Though much of the Black Sea resort is under construction, a handful of venues have recently been used for test events including the ISU World Cup Short Track event, FIS Cross Country World Cup, and the Grand Prix of Figure Skating Final.

Explore the Sochi venues with a virtual tour in the video below:

The 2014 Sochi Games will see the addition of 12 new sports, bringing the total to 98 medal events in 15 sports.

In addition to the new venues, Sochi will add 12 new events the Winter Games, bringing the total to 98 medal events. Women’s ski jumping will have its Olympic berth in 2014. Men and Women will also compete in the mixed relay biathlon, ski halfpipe, team relay luge, figure skating team event, ski slopestyle, snowboard slopestyle, and snowboard parallel special slalom. Over 50% of the medals will be in ski disciplines.

With the Olympics just around the corner, below are a few athletes to keep your eye on.

The Legends

Image Credit: Zimbio

Heather Richardson
Richardson represented the United States at the 2010 Winter Olympics, but failed to place on the podium. Luckily making the podium hasn’t been a challenge for Richardson recently. At the end of 2012, Richardson set three new track records at international venues. Additionally, she set four new National Records. Richardson is peaking just in time for the 2014 Games, so keep her on your radar.

Image Credit: Rick Bowmer, AP

J.R. Celski
The protege of Apolo Anton Ohno, Celski skated alongside Ohno in the Vancouver games. Celski came home with two bronze medals, but with his consistent performance since 2010, he is expected to improve his medal haul in Sochi. Celski recently set the world record in the 500 meter securing the title of fastest men’s skater in the world.

Image Credit: Getty Images/AP

Meryl Davis and Charlie White
Reigning world champions Davis and White took silver in Vancouver, and after winning 12-straight grand prix medals they are the United States’ best chance at a gold in figure skating in 2014.

Image Credit: Getty Images/AP

Ted Ligety
Ligety has been the most dominant giant slalom skier over the last few years on the FIS Alpine World Cup tour. In 2006, he won the gold at the Torino Games, but failed to reach the podium at the 2010 Games. In recent years, Ligety has improved his all-around resume and hopes to potentially medal in the super combined, slalom events, and super G.

The Hopefuls

Image Credit: US Freeskiing

Gus Kenworthy
Kenworthy was the only skier to compete in three disciplines at Winter X Games 2012 and Winter X Games 2013. Kenworthy landed the first switch triple rodeo 1440 at the Winter X Games 2013, but sustained an injury later in the competition. If he can focus his energy, Kenworthy could take the world by surprise in 2014.

Image Credit: Richard Heathcote/Getty Images

Lindsey Van
Women’s ski jumping wasn’t included in the 2010 Vancouver Olympics, making it the only sport in the Olympics to not include both genders. Frustrated, Van led the charge for the inclusion of women’s ski jumping in 2014. Women’s ski jumping has been added to the Sochi event lineup, so look for world champion Lindsey Van to make the podium.

Image Credit: US Ski Team

Mikaela Shiffrin
At 15, Shiffrin was voted the FIS Alpine World Cup Rookie of the Year and she hasn’t slowed down since. People have called Shiffrin the next Lindsey Vonn, and her performance on the slopes this season has only encourages comparison.

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