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Winter Olympics 2014 Events, Start Date, and News: What Athletes and Nations Have the Most on the Line?

First Posted: Dec 20, 2013 09:37 AM EST

Will Lindsey Vonn complete the most unlikely comback in Skiing history?

In November, the reigning female Olympic Downhill Gold Medalist took a nasty spill on a practice run. The outcome of the fall was severe as it was later revealed that Vonn partially tore a reconstructed ligament in her right knee. Just a month later, Lindsey is already almost at 100 percent, blowing by conventional recovery time periods. Even NFL All Pro running back Adrian Peterson took longer to heal after a similar injury.

Will Gay athletes rise to the occasion or falter under the pressure of increased media scrutiny?

Russian President Vladimir Putin reiterated to International Olympic Committee head Thomas Bach that gay athletes would be fully welcome to participate in Russia back in October.

"We will do everything to make sure that athletes, fans and guests feel comfortable at the Olympic Games regardless of their ethnicity, race or sexual orientation. I would like to underline that," Mr Putin told Mr Bach.

However Vitaly Mutko, a Russian politician in charge of sports and tourism, has said that the gay ban will apply to anyone and everyone. With all the pressure that already comes packaged with a ticket to the Olympics, will LGBT athletes rise up or falter? It's anyone's guess, but here's hoping for a great showing by LGBT athletes despite the ridiculous law on the books.

Can the Canadian Men's Hockey Team repeat with another golden performance?

Sidney Crosby's overtime game-winning shot against American goaltender Ryan Miller was an amazing way to win a medal. The American team was heartbroken and doesn't look like they will be as loaded this time around. Meanwhile, Team Canada will be extra motivated to win on Russian soil. Expect Crosby to have another successful tournament. Hopefully the United States pulls out a stunner, but it looks like it's a two-way Canadian-Russian race to the top.

Will Lolo Jones silence her critics and top the podium in Women's Team Combined Bobsled?

It was called the choke heard round the world. At least that's what Lolo Jones felt like after her 7th place finish in the women's 100-meter hurdle final at the 2008 Summer Olympics. Her mind-blowingly bad misstep consisted of clipping the penultimate hurdle while blowing away the field. Instead of rising to the top of her profession, teammate Dawn Harper swooped in and stole the gold medal away from Jones. With a chance at redemption during the 2012 Summer Olympics, Jones again walked away empty handed.

Cue Lolo's decision to compete in the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi. With the height and lean muscle mass needed to excel at bobsledding, can she overcome her demons and break through? She had a successful first season a year ago and hopes to carry that success all the way to the podium. But first Jones has to beat out Emily Azevedo and fellow track star Lauryn Williams for a spot on the US team.

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