The 2014 Winter Olympic Games are upon us, as the world’s attention will soon focus on Sochi, Russia. More than 2,500 athletes from 88 different nations are scheduled to compete in 98 events over 15 disciplines from Feb. 7-23 in the Russian resort city located on the coast of the Black Sea.
And while the IOC and Sochi Games have their own official accounts, Athlon Sports has put together its list of the 25 other must-follow Twitter accounts for the 22nd Winter Olympics. Whether you are looking for up-to-the-minute coverage or are more interested in what goes behind the scenes or with the athletes themselves, the accounts listed here should be able to satisfy your informational and entertainment needs.
What is curling? Think of it as something akin to shuffleboard on ice. Its origins date all the way back to the 16th century and it was part of the inaugural Winter Olympics in 1924. It’s been an official event since the 1998 Nagano Games and The Curling News, the self-described “global authority” on the sport, will have blanket coverage of both the men’s and women’s tournaments in Sochi. And if you can't get into the sport, there's always the fashion.
Another one of the Winter Games’ unique events, biathlon combines cross-country skiing and rifle marksmanship. The United States has never won an Olympic medial in biathlon and will be looking to make history in Sochi with its largest team (5 men, 5 women) in 22 years.
Luge may get its name from a French word that means “small coasting sled,” but when it comes to Olympic-level competition it’s all about speed. Of the three Olympic sliding sports, which also includes bobsled and skeleton, luge is the fastest and most dangerous. One- or two-person sleds race down the track feet-first at speeds up to 87 mph. The United States’ 10-person team (7 men, 3 women) features six first-time Olympians and medal hopeful Erin Hamlin. No American woman has ever medaled in luge at the Olympics.
Speed skater Shani Davis’ Twitter handle reads “Not your average Olympic Champion,” and it’s perfectly understandable why he would make such a claim. During the 2006 Olympics in Turin, Italy, Davis became the first African-American from any nation to win a gold medal in an individual sport at the Winter Games. He repeated his feat in the 1,000 meters four years later in Vancouver and enters these games looking to add to his overall medal haul (four total) and become the first American man to win three gold medals in a single event.
Around The Rings certainly knows its way around the Olympics; having covered them for more than 20 years. Expect their reporters to have the Sochi Games blanketed with plenty of news, interviews, features and other information posted from now until the Closing Ceremonies.
The US Bobsled & Skeleton Federation (USBSF) is the official governing body for the sports of bobsled and skeleton. The U.S. bobsled and skeleton contingency captured two medals four years ago in Vancouver and will be looking for similar, if not better, results in Sochi led by Steven Holcomb, Christopher Fogt and Lolo Jones, to name a few.
A member of the gold medal-winning four-man bobsled team in Vancouver, Steven Holcomb is back for more. A five-time world champion, Holcomb’s story of how he overcame depression and an eye disorder to achieve his goals has already been an inspiration for many.
Kikkan Randall loves going up and down hills and the 31-year-old Alaskan is competing in her fourth Olympics. A World Champion cross-country skier, Randall is considered a medal contender in the individual sprint event in Sochi. If she makes the medal stand, Randall would become the first American woman to win an Olympic medal in cross-country and the first U.S. athlete period to medal in the discipline since 1972.
U.S. speed skaters have won 85 Olympic medals, including four at the Vancouver games. You can follow the team’s progress and experience in Sochi through the association’s official account.
The 18-year-old Eagle-Vail, Colo., native may be young and competing in her first Olympics, but Mikaela Shiffrin is no stranger to the big stage. Already the youngest American skier to be World Cup champion (slalom), Shiffrin will be “searching for the fastest way down the mountain” in Sochi.
A relative newcomer to the Winter Olympics, there’s no questioning the growing popularity of snowboarding worldwide, as evidenced by the number of countries sending competitors for the six events (three men’s, three women’s). Once again, the U.S. team should be one of the top groups in Sochi led by Shaun White, Hannah Teter, Kelly Clark, Lindsey Jacobellis and also including the brother-sister tandem of Taylor and Arielle Gold, among others.
A four-time World Champion alpine skier, Ted Ligety won gold in the alpine combined in the 2006 Turin games. Participating in his third Olympics, Ligety is looking to bounce back from a disappointing showing four years ago in Vancouver.
The United States is sending its largest ski and snowboarding team ever with a record 94 athletes set to compete in Sochi. On the skiing side, 31 different athletes have previous Olympic experience, including six gold medalists. Nordic combined skier Todd Lodwick is competing in his sixth Olympics, which is the most for any U.S. skier in history and ties the most ever by a winter Olympian. The team members range from 37 years old to 15, as the skiers will compete in alpine, cross-country, freestyle, Nordic combined and ski jumping events.
One of the more high-profile events of the winter games, this is the official account for the governing body for figure skating in the U.S.
A four-time U.S. champion in men’s figure skating, Abbott is looking to bring home a medal in his second Olympics. The 28-year-old isn’t all business, however, as he’s a self-described “total goof ball,” a side of his personality that comes across on his Twitter account.
Has an Olympian ever had a more appropriate name? Women’s figure skater Gracie Gold will be looking to live up to her last name in Sochi as the 18-year-old tries to join the ranks of U.S. greats Peggy Fleming, Dorothy Hamill, Kristi Yamaguchi, Tara Lipinski and Sarah Hughes.
Similar to basketball in the Summer Games, professional hockey players will comprise the majority of the rosters of those countries competing in Sochi as the NHL will take a two-week break. The U.S. men’s and women’s team are defending silver medalists but have their sights set higher this year. You also can follow the action on NBC’s hockey Twitter account, @NBCOHockey.
With Lindsey Vonn (see below) sidelined, Julia Mancuso is arguably the face of the U.S. women’s ski team. The 2006 gold medalist in the giant slalom, “Super Jules” will be skiing for even more success in Sochi.
The official account of the U.S. Olympic Committee, this year’s team of 230 athletes is the largest delegation for any nation in the history of the Winter Games. Over 200 U.S. Olympians are on Twitter and all of them along with exclusive behind-the-scenes coverage can be found here.
The official broadcast partner of these Winter Games, NBC will have comprehensive coverage of the events in Sochi across all of its platforms. This account will feature instantaneous updates, firsthand accounts, behind-the-scenes photos, observations and so much more.
The most decorated American Winter Olympian of all-time, speed skating great Apollo Anton Ohno will get a different taste of the games in Sochi. The eight-time medalist won’t be competing on the track and instead will serve as a correspondent and analyst for NBC Sports. Besides should something go wrong during his commentary, all Ohno has to do is break out his dance moves, right?
A knee injury will keep Lindsey Vonn from being on the slopes in Sochi, but the 2010 Vancouver gold medalist in the downhill will still be visible during these Winter Games. The 29-year-old will be a part of NBC’s broadcast team, appearing on both the “Today Show” and on the network’s other platforms as a stateside correspondent. There’s also a chance you may see some updates about a certain golfer too.
The rare two-Olympic athlete, Lolo Jones is competing in her first Winter Games as a member of the U.S. women’s bobsled team. A World Champion hurdler, a medal in Sochi would be Jones’ first after failing to reach the stand at both the 2008 Beijing and '12 London Olympics.
Like Shani Davis, Shaun White also has a chance of making history as he comes to Sochi with hopes of winning a third straight gold medal in the halfpipe. Regardless of if it’s a snowboard or skateboard, White is well known for winning (most gold medals and overall medals in X Games history), huge aerial tricks and his red hair. Just don’t call him “The Flying Tomato” anymore.
A three-time U.S. champion and two-time Olympic figure skater, Johnny Weir will serve as an analyst for NBC Sports’ coverage. Weir is known for his colorful personality, flamboyance and fashion sense, among other things. It’s no stretch to say that Weir may end up being one of the most fascinating and intriguing figures to follow in Sochi.